More tweaks for online gambling bill

Ashley Milne-Tyte Apr 2, 2008


Doug Krizner: Back in 2006, Congress banned banks from processing payments to most gambling Web sites. Lawmakers passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. But after more than a year, this law hasn’t actually gone into effect. That’s because regulators are still tweaking the details of how it’ll work.

Today, there’s a congressional hearing to discuss whether this law is more a burden than a benefit. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: It sounds simple enough: Banks should stop any transaction involving illegal online gambling. The problem, banks say, is not all online gambling is illegal. Take horse racing, for instance. Banks say they can’t always tell whether a transaction is paying off a bet on the ponies or something the government considers more sinister. Wayne Abernathy of the American Bankers Association is set to testify at today’s hearing. He says age restrictions are also tough to enforce.

Wayne Abernathy: How is the bank to know whether that person conducting that bet is a minor? They might have their daddy’s credit card.

And, Abernathy says, reporting suspicious activity is one thing, but playing vice cop is another.

Abernathy: When you say to a bank we want you to stop the transaction, now you’re saying to a bank we want you to be investigator, judge and jury and apply a sanction.

Abernathy hopes regulators will clarify the banks responsibilities in any new rules.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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