The determined efforts by politicians, horseracing associations, the PPA, iMEGA and other groups and individuals to postpone the December 1st implementation date for the regulations supporting the UIGEA may have paid off.
A wide range of reliable sources were reporting late Wednesday that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have compromised on the implementation date, postponing it for six months instead of the year requested. The sources all claim that an official announcement on the postponement is imminent.
Congressman Barney Frank and the Poker Players Alliance preferred not to comment until the official announcement, but Joe Brennan Jnr of iMEGA said: “It's really surprising we got this concession. It's very unusual for any department of the government to essentially forestall an act of Congress. This is a testament to the power of Congressman Frank. This has been his pet issue, because it is part of his core values, for some time now.”
News of the postponement comes on the heels of Monday's announcement by Congressman Frank that his two proposals – HR2266 on postponing the UIGEA for a year, and HR2267 on the legalisation of online gambling in the USA – would be the subject of a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington DC on December 3rd .
The hearings are a significant development in attempts to legalise online gambling or at least ensure the legislation gets a fair and proper political debate, given the support Frank has for his proposals, the questionable manner in which the UIGEA was rammed through Congress in October 2006 and the subsequent “last minute” promulgation of the supporting regulations in the dying hours of the Bush administration.
Regarding the hearings, John Pappas, executive director of the PPA observed earlier this week: “We thought it would probably have to wait until January, so we're pleasantly surprised to see this happen in December. I think Barney is sending a strong message to regulators and others that he's serious about changing this law. He's going to move forward with his plans to license and regulate this industry.”
Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative spokesperson Michael Waxman commented: “Chairman Frank is clearly indicating his commitment to switch the government’s position on Internet gambling, replacing attempts to prohibit the activity with a regulatory framework where consumers are protected.”
Secretary Geithner was faced with a powerful combination of petitioners for the postponement of the UIGEA regulations, starting with letters from Congressman Frank and 19 other Representatives and gaining momentum with a major petition from the PPA, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and American Greyhound Track Operators Assocation. Six Kentucky Representatives also added their weight to the appeal earlier this week .
Two acknowledged opponents of Internet gambling, Senator Jon Kyl and Representative Spencer Bachus, protested against any delay in implementation.