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Appeals court UIGEA is not unconstitutionally vague
WASHINGTON (9/3/09)—The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has had its vocal detractors and staunch supporters since even before it became law in 2006 and regulators have since been struggling with the task of implementation. In a recent opinion issued this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that UIGEA is neither unconstitutionally vague nor does it violate gamblers’ right to privacy. The decision involves a suit filed in 2007 by the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association Inc., of New Jersey, against the U.S. Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Reserve System. The FTC and Fed are the federal regulatory bodies tasked with crafting rules to put the law into effect. In March 2008, U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper dismissed the New Jersey association’s challenge of UIGEA’s constitutionality and the Sept. 1 court of appeals decision upholds that ruling. The Internet Gambling law forbids the placing, receiving or in any other way knowingly transmitting a bet or wager using the Internet. Financial institutions are statutorily prohibits financial institutions from processing transactions used to place illegal bets online. A three-judge appeals court panel, rendering the 10-page decision, declared that UIGEA “clearly provides a person of ordinary intelligence with adequate notice of the conduct that it prohibits.” Credit Union National Association (CUNA) General Counsel Eric Richard Wednesday said, “This decision, however, in no way addresses the costly and vague unfunded mandate this law place on credit unions and other financial depository institutions.” Richard reiterated CUNA’s support for enforcement of reasonable laws to prohibit unlawful Internet gambling. “However, UIGEA inflicts unreasonable policing requirements on financial institutions, which have proven difficult for financial institutions to meet,” he said. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has introduced two bills on this issue. The first, the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act (H.R. 2266), would push back implementation of UIGEA by a year. It’s currently due to take effect on Dec. 1, this year. CUNA supports this bill. Frank’s second bill, the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267), would allow Internet gambling companies to accept bets from persons in the United States if they are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department and maintain effective protections against underage and compulsive gambling and money laundering and fraud. CUNA hasn’t taken a position on this legislation. Neither bill has yet been scheduled for committee consideration.


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