The Poker Players Alliance might not support Representative Pete Sessions's HR6663 but the Remote Gambling Association – a trade association embracing most of the major UK online gambling companies – certainly does.
This week the RGA endorsed the UIGEA Clarification Act (HR 6663) and expressed strong support for its sponsors for taking positive action to clarify the law.
The intention of HR6663 is to clarify what is and is not legal under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act passed by Congress in 2006, and to ensure that gambling companies active in the US market – but not in sportsbetting – prior to the introduction of the Act, and who withdrew subsequent to it, are not prosecuted.
The RGA has a dog in this fight, in that it has triggered European Union investigations into alleged discrimination against European online gambling companies by the US Department of Justice, an issue that has yet to be debated by teams from both sides (see previous InfoPowa reports). US companies active today have continued to operate with impunity had exacerbated the situation further, the RGA has claimed.
The EU investigation is based on the Trade Barriers Regulation and is expected to reach a decision before the end of this year. The decision will determine whether the case will be sent to the World Trade Organisation for determination, with the prospect of sanctions against the US if the EU wins.
HR6663 has the potential to reduce tensions considerably if passed, by meeting a major concern among European companies – prosecution for events pre-UIGEA.
Clive Hawkswood, the RGA's chief executive, commented this week: “We took our case directly to US legislators who have heard our message, understood the inequity of the Department of Justices’ stance, and appreciated both the unfairness in their enforcement policy and the risk to US priority interests and its reputation if the policy was pursued further. This could be a major step in demonstrating that the rule of law and the integrity of the WTO are still important in Washington.
"Although this is a good sign, unless and until the legalization is passed and comes into force, all EU operators who have ever taken business from the US market are potentially still under threat of prosecution and we will be forced to pursue this matter as far as it needs to go to obtain a sensible solution and fair justice," Hawkswood continued.
He concluded by praising supporters of HR6663, who he said had acted decisively to rectify an unnecessary and avoidable dispute and safeguard both principles of basic fairness and the trading relationship between the US and the EU.
Attracting further attention to the issue are the recent approaches by Congressmen Robert Wexler and Steve Cohen to US Attorney General Michael Mukasey in separate letters urging a halt to the pursuit of EU comapnies for pre-UIGEA activities on the grounds that continued operations could lead to a potentially damaging trade dispute between the United States and the European Union at the World Trade Organisation.