Feeds

Congress still afraid to define 'internet gambling'

Whatever it is. It's illegal

The essential guide to IT transformation

The intellectual haze that envelopes American internet gambling policy thickened the past week, as lawmakers failed to define what exactly constitutes "unlawful" internet gambling. As absurd as it sounds, two years after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Congress still can’t make up its collective mind as to what behavior the law is intended to cover.

A bill before the House Financial Services Committee would have blocked the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve from enforcing the UIGEA. Even worse, it would have forced the lawmakers to define what constitutes illegal online gambling. Alas, the bill died, leaving our fine nation in the dark.

The UIGEA was attached in the middle of the night to a terrorism-related port security bill at the end of a congressional session, meaning that no one actually read it. The purpose of the law was to freeze internet gambling companies out of the American financial system, and the law put the onus on financial institutions to ensure that Americans were not gambling online.

Financial institutions have complained bitterly about bearing a financial burden more properly borne by the federal government’s own law enforcement agencies, and the Treasury Department has dragged its heels on the matter. There has never been any comprehensive federal law covering gambling, and prior federal law seemed to allow some forms of gambling while banning others. Even the World Trade Organization (WTO) got involved, when Antigua-Barbuda, a scrappy Caribbean internet gambling haven, filed (and won) a claim against the US before the international trade body.

"The financial institutions are in the position of being told not process bets, but it's not clear what is legal and what is illegal," said Representative Barney Frank, the committee's chairman, calling it "a job that is undoable." One of the main sticking points has been check processing, which is still largely done by hand.

Ironically, the law had an even greater impact than its drafters had probably hoped for, even though it has never properly gone into effect. The regulations were supposed to have been drafted over a year ago, but the mere passage of the law wiped billions off the market value of internet companies. Throw in a couple of arrests of prominent European gambling executives on other gambling charges, and the market was in chaos.

Certain types of remote gaming are allowed in the US under the law, such as gambling on horse racing or fantasy sports, and even in its twilight state short of full implementation, the UIGEA has widely been viewed as a hand-out to the domestic gambling industry. Gaming, in all its iterations, is an industry ideally suited to the internet medium, and Congress’s craven inability to define its own laws has left American operators out in the cold, or locked up in jail. Until Congress figures out what it wants to do with an industry they wish would go away, financial institutions and gamblers will remain in limbo. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?