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Washington
House committee considers UIGEA tweaks
WASHINGTON (6/24/08)—The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to mark up several bills Wednesday, including one that addresses problems with the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). That bill, the Payment System Protection Act (H.R. 5767), would block the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board from adopting their current plans to implement UIGEA. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) opposes the agencies’ draft implementation proposal. Under the Internet gambling law, financial institutions must establish and implement policies and procedures to identify and block restricted transactions, or rely on those established by the payments system. 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. CUNA also testified that credit unions' have a fundamental concern that they already have an “extraordinary" burden with "heavy policing responsibilities" under the Bank Secrecy Act and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) rules. CUNA warned an increased policing role could interfere with financial institutions' fundamental business to provide financial services to their communities. It is expected that the committee’s version of H.R. 5767 will impose a two-step rulemaking process: First, the implementing agencies would hammer out a definition of what constitutes unlawful Internet gambling and report it to Congress. Then, if Congress had no objections to the definition, the Treasury and Fed would go ahead and draw up implementing rules for UIGEA. There is a possibility that an amendment will be added to H.R. 5767 at the time of the vote, one which would require that Treasury maintain a list of unlawful Internet gambling providers.


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