Feds issue rule aimed at Internet gambling ban

The Bush administration issued a final regulation Wednesday aimed at banning Internet gambling, drawing criticism from Democrats who mentioned it would burden financial companies.

The rule from the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve needs those companies to resolve procedures to prevent payments in connection with unlawful Internet gambling. They would be expected to comply by Dec. 1, 2009.

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., had inquired the Treasury this week not to move ahead now, saying it would "burden the financial services industry at a time of economic emergency."

The rule doesn't define "unlawful Internet gambling." That has been an issue since Republicans pushed by ways of the law that the new rule puts in place, by attaching it to a port safety bill in 2006.

The law sought to curb online gambling by prohibiting financial institutions from accepting payments from credit cards, verifies or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers. But the law didn't offer an understandable definition of Internet gambling, as a replacement referring to existing federal and state laws, which themselves provoke differing interpretations.

Banks and other financial institutions complained they were being forced into a law enforcement role when Congress couldn't even define what behavior it was trying to prevent. Payments are complicated to track anyway and online gambling companies can disguise themselves with relative ease.

Frank's committee passed a bill this year searching to block the rule from taking end result and first defining what was illegal online gambling. The decision did not pass the House.

"The clock is ticking on President Bush's prohibitionist crusade contrary Internet gaming and that is clearly why these flawed regulations are being forced on the financial services industry at the notably last minute," Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., mentioned in a statement.

Berkley, in conjunction with the rest of Nevada's House delegation and the state's gambling industry, supports legislation that would need a study of Internet gambling and the affects of regulating it.

U.S. bettors have been estimated to supply at least half the income of the $16 billion Internet gambling industry, which is largely hosted on overseas sites.
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