Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Harboring Hope for House Hearing

HopeThere is a hearing scheduled this morning in the House regarding the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. I wasn’t all that enthused the last couple of times the UIGEA was discussed on Capitol Hill. Today’s hearing, however, strikes me as potentially more promising in terms of its practical effects.

Back in November, there was a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss online gambling. That’s the one where Annie Duke testified. This hearing took place during the commenting period for the proposed UIGEA regulations, and in effect that’s all the hearing really amounted to -- i.e., a collection of comments on those regs that had been presented by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Department of Treasury back in October. There was some positive vibe in the poker world following the hearing, but it didn’t really appear to stop or slow the wheels of the UIGEA machine as it courses toward implementation.

Earlier, last June, was another hearing, this one before the House Financial Services Committee, which ostensibly addressed the question “Can Internet Gambling Be Effectively Regulated to Protect Consumers and the Payments System?” I wrote about this one at length in a post titled “A Hearing Impaired.” My title stemmed from my impression that what we had there were a number of folks talking past one another, with those who wanted to see the UIGEA finalized and implemented as soon as possible repeatedly demonstrating an inability (or refusal) to hear what those who opposed the law were saying.

Today’s hearing is being held by the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology, and it comes at a potentially pivotal moment in the UIGEA’s brief, frustrating history.

Since the commenting period closed, we’ve heard from two Republican senators -- neither of whom is particularly interested in legalizing online gambling -- who both strongly oppose the UIGEA and the feds’ proposed regs. In a letter to the the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the senators argued “the proposed rules would inordinately burden every bank, credit union, credit card company, money transmitting business and payment system in the country, leading to non-uniform compliance and confusion.”

That letter was sent back in February. Then in mid-March we began hearing some details about the comments, including the strong objections to the UIGEA levied by the American Banking Association. According to the ABA, “the UIGEA will in the end catch more banks in a compliance trap and do greater damage to the competitiveness of the American payments system, than it will stop gambling enterprises from profiting on illegal wagering.”

The title of today’s hearing gives an good indication of where the discussion stands at the present moment: “Proposed UIGEA Regulations: Burden without Benefit?” The hosting entity -- the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology -- is a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, and the House Banking Committee (chaired by Barney Frank, D-MA), a committee which does, theoretically, have some influence over how the Federal Reserve & the Treasury conducts its business. All of which means today’s hearing might well have some effect on exactly how -- or even whether -- the regulations get finalized and the UIGEA finally implemented.

There are a number of presenters lined up for today’s hearing, representing a variety of different interests and opinions on the matter. Thing gets cranked up about a half-hour from now.

I know yr probably busy cleaning up after all the April Fool’s Day pranks, so I’m gonna go ahead follow the sucker for you and try to report back here either this afternoon or tomorrow.

That’s my hope, anyway. The success of my plan depends heavily on how strong this here cup of java is. Better go brew me up some more.

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Blogger Waldo's Wild Kingdom said...

Thanks for keeping up with the important stuff for us.

4/02/2008 1:03 PM  
Blogger Amatay said...

Gotcha :-)

4/02/2008 1:37 PM  

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