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Lawmakers: Treasury Shouldn't Waste Time on Online Gambling

4/23/08 - The Hill - View Source

By Susan Crabtree 

A bipartisan group of House Financial Services Committee members have warned U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials not to waste any more time trying to implement a ban on online gambling. 

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the panel, along with Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), sent a letter Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke telling them to hold off on writing new regulations based on the law governing Internet gambling, which was approved by the Republican-majority Congress in 2006.

The lawmakers, who said they are determined to overturn the law, highlighted issues they said are more important priorities for the nation's financial institutions, such as the home mortgage crisis.

"We believe it would be imprudent for you to devote additional agency resources to this Sisyphean task, especially as we intend to vigorously pursue legislation to prevent the implementation of these regulations," the members said.

The 2006 law fails to define the term "unlawful Internet gambling," leaving it up to banks and financial institutions to reconcile the conflicting state and federal laws and court decisions when determining whether to process a transaction, the members wrote. Some of the information needed to make the determination could be unavailable to banks because customers or financial institutions in foreign countries may be unlikely to provide it.

The letter follows a Financial Services Committee hearing early this month at which Treasury and Federal Reserve officials described the regulations implementing an online gambling ban as vague, confusing and burdensome.

Frank and Paul have introduced legislation that would prohibit the implementation of the law's regulations.

The letter was sent the same day the Poker Players Alliance announced that its membership had reached 1 million. The group also announced the launch of a voter registration program and a political action committee.

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