Internet poker players in the U.S. and online gambling companies around the world are recovering from the news that Barney Frank’s anti-UIGEA bill has been delayed. The worsening financial situation in the U.S. has meant that Frank, as head of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, needs to focus his attentions away from online gambling. Representatives have confirmed that the bill will likely face a hearing no earlier than September.
The Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act was introduced by Frank after he had brought in measures to help America cope with recession. It was hoped that finishing his work with the bailout would mean that he could devote more of his time to repealing the UIGEA. However, things have not brightened on the economic forecast and Frank is once again tasked with overseeing the recovery.
The bill had been picking up steam in Washington, having amassed over 35 co-sponsors in the last few months. Supporters will be hoping that political enthusiasm for the return of online gambling will remain healthy during the delay. The bill’s chances were also aided by the U.S. government’s unpopular decision to seize $30 million worth of online poker funds owed to American players.
Many online poker companies who withdrew from the U.S. following the introduction of the UIGEA had been preparing the ground for a return. Organizations such as PartyPoker have been settling law suits and setting up a safe and legal move into to the American market. This setback is sure to impact their financial predictions, as well as disappoint the legions of poker players and fans awaiting a return to legal online poker.
There is still hope on other fronts however, particularly in iMEGA’s case against the U.S. Department of Justice. The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association have been fighting a long running legal battle against the U.S. government, in an attempt to have the UIGEA ruled unconstitutional. Oral arguments in this latest leg of the case are set to be heard on 7th July at the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “We feel very confident that when the judges take a look at the law, they will see just how defective it is and will overturn it,” said iMEGA chairman Joe Brennan.
The online gambling ban is also under attack from across the water. The EU recently completed a report which concluded that the U.S. has unfairly discriminated against European companies by restricting their access to the U.S. market. The report also stated that the case could be taken to the World Trade Organization, but it is believed that the EU would look to negotiate a settlement before resorting to the WTO.