published on: Monday Oct 02, 2006
<H1>What's NOT Included in The New Anti-Gaming Bill</H1> A Legal Perspective
This weekend, just before congress recessed, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) finally snuck the mildest form of the anti-gaming legislation into an unrelated bill. The Safe Port Act provides $3.4 billion for U.S. port security and attached to that bill is a section making unlawful for banks to send money to Internet gambling sites or their intermediaries.
The bill passed both the House and Senate, meaning that it only awaits the president’s signature before becoming law.
Do not panic. First and foremost, this bill does not criminalize PLAYING POKER. IN fact, the bill does not speak to the poker player at all.
After 10 years, Congress finally passed something relating to online gaming. The bill basically makes it more difficult for players to put their money into an offshore site. However, these sites are not just going to walk away from a 12 billion dollar a year industry. Since the gambling businesses are beyond the hold of U.S. laws, when one funding source is blocked, they will open another.
Next, most banks and credit card companies already refuse to send money to offshore sites. Therefore, there are already offshore third-party companies in place that are more than happy to handle our financial transactions. The bill attempts to forbid financial institutions from sending money to intermediaries as well.
However, the government cannot stop its citizens from sending money out of the country for legitimate purposes. For example, if I want to buy a widget offshore, the Constitution protects my right to do so. As long as there is a third party, not involved in gaming, I am permitted to place my money in that receptacle from a U.S. financial institution and then spend it. Once my money goes to NETeller, I can buy a watch, or pay for a trip. Because there are legally allowable things that can be done after sending the money to NETeller, the government cannot tell my bank not to send my money there. Our Constitution protects one's personal right to send money from a U.S. bank or financial institution to a business outside of the United States.
The company I mentioned is the popular NETeller. Others will soon appear on the horizon. NETeller happens to be a publicly traded company on the London AIM Exchange with a user base of more than 2.3 million customers. More than 1,700 online merchants accept payments through the NETeller system, and most of those companies are not gaming sites. With corporate headquarters in the Isle of Man, the company processes billions of dollars yearly. Companies like NETeller are not going to pack up and disappear. This legislation merely encourages more of the same.
It will be fascinating to watch this issue unfold. If our government tries to stop US financial institutions from sending money to a place like NETeller, this would surely be fodder for a lawsuit.
The issue will probably be decided from a business perspective. If NETeller makes millions from non-gaming related sources and it would hurt their business if they lost US customers, they may voluntarily stop sending money to offshore sites. On the other hand, if a large portion of their business is online gaming, a lawsuit is in the making if NETeller is blacklisted.
The Secretary and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System have 270 days (after the bill is signed by the president) to come up with enforcement policies and procedures.
You can be sure that during this period, there will be lawsuits here, while abroad, there will be plans to protect the 6-billion-dollar-a-year industry by circumventing this new law which is applicable only in the US. Our government cannot make laws that apply to offshore companies who are regulated by the government where they are located.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the offshore sites come up with programs to put large sums of money into their sites now prior to enforcement of the bill. They could offer interest or other large incentives to keep substantial sums online.
The Poker Player’s Alliance president, Michael Blocerek told me this morning that he is “outraged at the way Frist attached the anti-gaming bill to unrelated legislation at the 11<SUP>th</SUP> hour.” The Poker Player’s Alliance is a grass roots organization of more than 110,000 members. Bolcerek said: “During the 270 day period, we will continue to fight to exempt poker.”
There are many interesting twists and turns in this new legislation which I will analyze for our readers next week after the holidays.
They'll never stop us from using our money for whatever widgets we please!
Good points but banks can volumtarilly block transfers. I guess we will find out which banks will and WONT make these transfers. I read that SMALLER banks wont be able to afford to make the changes and enfoce these transfers. I plan to stick with a small bank.
The govt leaned on paypal a few years ago to make them stop sending money to gambling sites and they complied. They are probably based in the US though. Ah the greay area.
I wonder how long it will take that lawsuit to be filed? Can it be a huge suit where thousands if not millions can join it?
PayPal is owned by Ebay! def a US company!
I just called Senator Kerry's office (I live in MA). I asked the person who answered to tell me everything that is taking place with this bill, what to expect, when to expect it and so on. He will be calling me back soon.
I think that the gov't can tell banks not to send money to Neteller since it is clearly an intermediary for gaming sites, and I don't see what in the hell that has to do with the Constitution. Also, on what grounds would Neteller sue within the United States for being "blacklisted." The "equal protection" clause? If that's the case, it won't work because it clearly does not apply to offshore businesses. Maybe you see some other grounds for a lawsuit. If so, enlighten me please.
It seems to me that the best chance to beat this is for the banking industry to start screaming. What is the criteria that must be met before an offshore company qualifies as a prohibited site? As said above, there are many legitimate purposes for a group like Neteller, so how are banks supposed to know? And are the banks responsible for spending the money to find out? This becomes especially relevant as new groups other than Firepay and Neteller emerge since they could easily just block those two, but what if new companies emerge?
That's true. The best thing everyone can do right now is to check with their bank and make sure to say that if it's not allowed they will lose their business.
Neteller and pokerstars are both located at Isle of Man. I think Neteller is traded on the London Stock exchange. I doubt US got any jurisdiction there but the defense and international affairs are runned by the UK and Blair is Bush "main man"...so who knows.
Otherwise invasion is always an option. They did it for the oil and weapons industry...why not for the Casinos and christian right wing radicals? Its possibly there could be "weapons of mass destruction" being hidden at the stratigical island in the Irish sea...
Since its now also ok to set up prisons on foreign soil and use "mild" torture on detainees its only a matter of time before Lee Jones is in a dungeon with a wet rag over his face gasping for air...
"Land of the Free, Home of the Brave"...? Yeah, right....
Okay, maybe a moot point as I don't know all the specifics of the Bill, but based off all the posts banks sending money to NETeller would be regulated, but what about winning and depositing from NETteller to one's bank?
Where do some of you people get such misguided views?? The guy writes an article like that and refers to the Christian Right Wing "Radicals." Notwithstanding this bill, the U.S. still has the most prosperous economy the world has ever seen due in large part to laws that keep government interference low. (In my opinion). We have one of the most civilized societies as well. As for that "mild" torture, that is NOTHING compared to what happens in most countries when you are captured as a POW.
I don't like the new law either, but before you make an American bashing post like that, stop and think. Let's keep things in perspective.
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