The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006 or more commonly known as the Safe Port Act was enacted by the 109th Congress. What most people do not know is that Title VIII of this Act includes a hastily put together Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act as well.
Section 802 is cited as "Prohibition on Acceptance of Any Payment Instrument for Unlawful Internet Gambling." In laymen’s terms, this is the legislation that prohibits online gambling and deems it illegal. In order to fully appreciate the significance of this Act it is necessary to cite the findings, verbatim. Therefore, we will cite sections of this act that directly catapulted this legislation into law.
"Prohibition on Funding of Unlawful Internet Gambling Findings"
Congress finds the following:
Definitions: The term bet or wager:
In General.—The term 'unlawful Internet gambling' means to place, receive, or otherwise knowingly transmit a bet or wager by any means which involves the use, at least in part, of the Internet where such bet or wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State or Tribal lands in which the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.
"Prohibition on Acceptance of Any Financial Instrument for Unlawful Internet Gambling"
The problem with UIGEA is that it is ambiguous at best. Since it was enacted, banking institutions have had a difficult time enforcing the act because it is neither clear cut nor does it fully explain how to implement the law in all areas of internet gambling. Moreover, there are several states in the US wherein this law either does not apply, or has not been fully implemented due to the inarticulate findings of Congress.
Subsequently, Congressman Barney Frank introduced a bill entitled "The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009." Hearings were held on this issue to determine its efficacy, and we are still waiting for this bill to be passed by Congress. Currently, it has 63 co-sponsors. The bill would "establish a foundation to permit licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from individuals in the U.S." Moreover, it would seek to allow the rights of each state to determine the efficacy of online gambling activity, and apply other restrictions on the activity as they deem necessary.
As we begin a new decade, it is our hope that Congress will revisit this issue and clear up the inconsistencies that have made the UIGEA unenforceable by enacting the Barney Frank Bill.