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CUNA backs lawmakers urging for UIGEA delay
WASHINGTON (10/6/09)—At a time of economic crisis, it is too great a burden on regulators and the financial services industry to move ahead with rules to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), according to a bi-partisan coalition of 19 lawmakers. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and 18 other members of that panel sent an Oct. 1 letter to the heads of the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board, the agencies charged with implementing UIGEA. The lawmakers requested the UIGEA effective date be pushed back a year. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica Monday applauded the committee’s letter urging delay. “While CUNA supports efforts to eliminate payments to unlawful Internet gambling businesses, we have consistently raised concerns about impractical aspects of UIGEA,” Mica said in a letter addressed to Frank and circulated to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, as well as National Credit Union Administration Chairman Deborah Matz. Under the Internet gambling law, credit unions, as well as other financial institutions, must establish and implement policies and procedures to identify and block restricted transactions, or rely on those established by the payments system. In the committee’s letter to Geithner and Bernanke, the lawmakers acknowledged that the regulators did not seek the task of implementing what has always been a controversial law. “We…believe this is an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis, and it contradicts the stated intent of the Financial Services Committee,” the letter stated. CUNA opposes the agencies' draft implementation proposal. Also, CUNA testified against the plan at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in April. CUNA witness Harriet May, president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, reiterated CUNA's concerns that aspects of the proposal would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement. May also said financial institutions could be swamped by the compliance burdens associated with UIGEA. The current plan to implement the complicated law, she said, lacks clarity and sufficient definition of terms. The lawmakers’ correspondence also referenced H.R. 2266, a currently pending bill that would push the UIGEA compliance date back to Dec. 1, 2010—one year from the current date. Without predicting the outcome, the letter states, “We believe this legislation is likely to move.”


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