America’s Bad Bet: How The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Of 2006 Will Hurt The House
Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law
Will Hurt The House
PeterPaul Shaker J.D.
ight c 2007
by the authors. Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law is produced
by The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/jcfl
AMERICA’S BAD BET: HOW THE UNLAWFUL
INTERNET GAMBLING ENFORCEMENT ACT OF
2006 WILL HURT THE HOUSE
America’s Second Prohibition, centered on online gambling, has
met criticism at home for its impractical and hypocritical nature, and
earned disdain abroad for its disrespect of World Trade Organization
(the “WTO”) obligations to equal market access. By preventing
American financial institutions from facilitating online wagers, the
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (the “UIGEA”)
ushers in an era of greater risk to American online gamblers, many of
whom ignore the law and continue to place Internet wagers through less
reliable means. Further, the UIGEA continues America’s recent attack
against online gambling providers—an attack the WTO deems a
violation of the General Agreement on Trades and Services (“GATS”),
to which the United States is a party. Continued resistance to these
WTO obligations could come back to haunt America as the WTO may
suspend trademark and copyright protection agreements, opening up a
floodgate for worldwide knockoffs of American intellectual property.
Congress should repeal the UIGEA, thereby preventing a Second
Prohibition and protecting American intellectual property interests.
In 2006, the Internet gambling market was expected to reach $15
billion worldwide, eclipsing the 2005 total of $12 billion,1 half of which
came from the pocketbooks and piggy banks of as many as 23 million.2
Internet gambling activity is specifically high in the U.S. market not
because of America’s greater thirst for action but rather because of
∗ J.D. Candidate 2008, Fordham University School of Law. The author would like to
thank Professor Harold F. Moore for his comments and direction in writing this paper.
1. Jeremy Herron, Internet Gambling Still Expected to Grow, (Oct. 16, 2006)
2. Frank Ahrens, New Law Cripples Internet Gambling: Banks Are Barred From
Handling Transactions, WASHINGTON POST, Oct. 14, 2006, at A1.
America’s technological advances which make Internet gaming
possible.3 Gambling is a generally accepted pastime in much of the
world and enjoys a $260 billion global market.4 Both the Asian and
European Internet gambling markets are expected to grow as broadband
Internet connects more of their cities and villages to the World Wide
In October 2006, Congress passed the UIGEA, which seeks to
prevent online gambling by criminalizing fund transfers from American
financial institutions to gambling websites.6 The global nature of the
Internet renders the UIGEA’s aim impractical as bettors sidestep illegal
fund transfers by using online third-party vendors, whose activity is
beyond the reach of American lawmakers.7 Further, UIGEA conflicts
with the United States’ WTO commitments, specifically GATS.8
This paper argues that the UIGEA hurts American interests and
should be repealed and replaced with laws that monitor and regulate
Internet gambling. Part I of this paper focuses on American legislative
history of gambling and the United States World Trade Organization
obligations. Although individual states are the ultimate arbiters of the
types of gambling that may take place within their borders, the federal
government has the power to regulate interstate gambling activities. In
doing so, however, the federal government must remain cognizant of
America’s foreign obligations, namely to the World Trade Organization.
Part II presents and analyzes relevant UIGEA provisions. The bill’s
legislative history depicts its shadowy eleventh- hour addition to the
overwhelmingly supported Safe Port Act, leaving UIGEA provisions
bare and lacking real teeth. Part III looks at the domestic and foreign
effects of UIGEA. At home, people are still gambling online but with
fewer safeguards and higher risk. Abroad, America is publicly running
afoul of its World Trade Organization obligations, an act that could cost
3. Herron, supra note 1; see also C. Jeremy Pope, Losing the Battle But Winning
the War: The Federal Government’s Attempts to Regulate Internet Gaming Through
Utilization of the Wire Act and Other Means, 75 MISS. L.J. 903, 904 (2005).
4. Herron, supra note 1.
5. Id.; see also United States General Accounting Office: Report to Congressional
Requesters, Internet Gambling: An Overview of the Issues, GAO-03-09, 17 (2002)
(explaining that “over 50 countries and foreign jurisdictions, mostly in Europe, the
Caribbean, and the Australia/Pacific region, have legalized Internet gambling”)
[hereinafter GAO Report].
6. Ahrens, supra note 2.
7. See infra notes 116-20 and accompanying text.
8. See infra notes 136-39 and accompanying text.
the United States a pretty penny.
I. BACKGROUND OF AMERICA’S ATTACK ON INTERNET GAMBLING
A. America Builds its House
States have the right to regulate gambling activities within their
borders, while the federal government is allowed to regulate interstate
gambling activities.9 Generally, the perception is that gambling is best
regulated on the local level, and that the federal government supports the
states in enforcing their own laws.10 Currently, forty-eight states and the
District of Columbia allow some type of gambling activity, while only
Utah and Hawaii restrict all forms.11
The commerce clause allows Congress to regulate all interstate
commerce, including interstate gambling.12 Federal gambling laws do
not replace state laws, rather they protect them from circumvention in
interstate and foreign commerce.13 Congress passed a series of laws
meant to restrict gambling activities, including the Wire Act, the Travel
Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act.14 Collectively, these acts
are referred to as the federal anti-racketeering laws,15 and they were
intended to curb organized crime.16 These laws were not meant to usurp
the states’ police power over gambling activities;17 rather they were
intended to bring organized crime bosses under federal jurisdiction for
violating multiple state gambling laws.18
The Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) takes the view that these
anti-racketeering laws extend to Internet gambling businesses.19 The
DOJ relies mainly on the Wire Act,20 which makes it a crime to use a
wire communication to engage in the “business of betting or
wagering.”21 The Wire Act does not criminalize the act of gambling,
only the business of gambling.22 The DOJ contends that although the
Wire Act and related anti-racketeering laws predate the advent of the
Internet, the Internet falls reasonably within the statute’s wording.23
The DOJ uses the Wire Act to prosecute operators of gambling
websites.24 In 2001, the DOJ used the Wire Act as the basis to prosecute
Jay Cohen for operating World Sports Exchange, which allowed
American bettors to place sports wagers.25 In July 2006, the DOJ used
the Wire Act to prosecute BetonSports.com CEO David Carruthers for
allowing Americans to wager on sports and casino games.26 The DOJ
does not differentiate between the type of Internet gambling activity
offered by the website, interpreting the Wire Act as reaching sports
wagers, casino games, and games of chance.27
The circuits do not agree that the Wire Act universally applies to
online gambling.28 In United States v. Cohen, the second circuit court
found that the Wire Act applied to online sports wagers.29 Cohen did
not consider whether the Wire Act applied to games of chance such as
casino games.30 With In re Mastercard International, the Fifth Circuit
found that the Wire Act did not apply to games of chance in that “a plain
reading of the statutory language [of the Wire Act] clearly requires that
the object of the gambling be a sporting event or contest.”31 Neither the
20. GAO Report, supra note 5, at 11.
21. 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a) (2007); see also GAO Report, supra note 5, at 12-13
(explaining that ambiguity surrounding the phrase “wire communication” may develop
as Internet technology becomes wireless).
22. Rodefer, supra note 15; see also Pope, supra note 3, at 907-08.
23. GAO Report, supra note 5, at 12 (“Internet gambling falls into this category, as
bets are generally placed at a personal computer in one state or country and received at
a server in another state or country.”).
24. Ahrens, supra note 2.
25. See generally U.S. v. Cohen, 260 F.3d 68 (2d Cir. 2001).
26. See generally Chuck Humphrey, BetonSports Charges: History of Online
Gambling Criminal Charges,
http://www.gambling-law-us.com/Articles-Notes/onlinegambling-arrests.htm (last visited May 22, 2007).
27. Cohen, 260 F.3d 68.
28. Pope, supra note 3, at 908-10.
31. 132 F. Supp. 2d 468, 480 (2001), aff’d, 313 F.3d 257 (5th Cir. 2002); see also
Pope, supra note 3.
second nor the fifth circuit agree with the DOJ’s view that the Wire Act
applies universally to online gambling.
Congress has considered the issue of Internet gambling on several
occasions since the phenomena’s birth in the early 1990’s.32 In 1996,
Congress created the National Gambling Impact Study Commission to
examine the social and economic impacts of gambling in general and
also Internet gambling specifically.33 In 2002, Congress requested that
the United States General Accounting Office (the “GAO”) examine U.S.
payments systems with respect to Internet gambling.34 While Congress
could have addressed its concerns about Internet gambling following
either of its inquiries, Congress chose not to take restrictive actions
against online gamblers, gambling websites or financial institutions
B. World Trade Organization Obligations
Formed in 1995, the WTO is a trade association designed to
facilitate trade and foster economic relationships36 among its 150
member nations.37 The WTO has three aims: to help trade flow freely,
to serve as a forum for trade negotiations and to serve as a forum for
dispute settlement.38 The WTO functions as a forum for continuous
negotiations and allows member nations to fine-tune trade policy.39
WTO members submit their disputes concerning their economic
relationships to a Dispute Settlement Board (“DSB”)40 whose holdings
are binding unless overturned by a vote of every member nation.41 The
DSB administers WTO rules and procedures and has the authority to
establish panels, adopt panel reports, monitor implementations of panel
rulings, and authorize suspensions of WTO concessions and
obligations.42 The United States has agreed to take trade disputes
arising under its WTO commitments before the DSB.43
GATS is the official trade agreement governing trade in services
among WTO members.44 The WTO provides member nations a list that
classifies service sectors and sub-sectors negotiable under GATS.45
GATS regulates a number of different services and operates as a
multilateral framework of principles meant to liberalize trade regulation
among WTO members.46 One goal of GATS is to reduce restrictions
that might unfairly discriminate against foreign service providers.47
Therefore, GATS allows WTO members to implement regulations
adverse to WTO liberalization objectives only if such regulations are
supported by national policy objectives.48
According to the Schedule of Commitments (“SOC”), WTO
member nations may choose which services are subject to GATS.49 The
SOC is a list of obligations by which member nations of the WTO agree
to be bound.50 A service industry is subject to GATS once a WTO
member lists that service industry in its SOC.51 If a member lists a
service industry on its SOC, all future laws and regulations implemented
by that member must comply with GATS.52 The WTO interprets the
United States’ GATS commitments to include specific commitments for
gambling and betting services.53
In August 2003, Antigua and Barbados brought a GATS violation
claim against the United States, arguing that certain United States
measures prevent the cross-border supply of gambling and betting
services.54 Antigua and Barbados alleged that the aforementioned three
U.S. federal laws (the Wire Act, the Travel Act, and Illegal Gambling
Business Act) were inconsistent both with U.S. GATS obligations and
with the U.S. Schedule of Specific Commitments annexed to GATS.55
The United States invoked a GATS exception, asserting that the federal
laws were “necessary” for the protection of public morals.56
In November 2004, the dispute resolution panel ruled in favor of
Antigua and Barbados, finding that the United States had violated its
GATS obligations.57 The panel concluded that the three federal laws
prohibit cross-border supply contrary to U.S. market access
commitments.58 The panel rejected the United States GATS exceptions
as the United States failed to prove that the three federal laws were
necessary for the protection of public morals, citing legislative gambling
carve-outs throughout the United States, particularly the Interstate Horse
Racing Act.59 The United States appealed the panel’s findings.60
In April 2005, the appellate panel also found that the United States
had violated its GATS obligations.61 The appellate panel upheld both
the panel’s finding “that the United States’ Schedule includes a
commitment to grant full market access in gambling and betting
services” and the panel’s finding “that the United States acts
inconsistently with Article XVI:1 and sub-paragraphs (a) and (c) of
Article XVI:2 by maintaining certain limitations to market access that
are not specified in its Schedule.”62 The appellate panel found that the
three federal laws were justified under Article XIV(a) but that the
United States had failed to show that these laws satisfied the overarching
goal of Article XIV,63 as will be discussed in detail in Part III below.
XIV(c), which exempt legislation “necessary to protect public morals or to maintain
[The] three U.S. laws (the Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gambling Business
Act) . . . , on their face, prohibit one, several or all means of delivery included in mode
1 (i.e. cross-border supply), contrary to the United States’ specific market access
commitments for gambling and betting services for mode 1. Therefore, the United
States failed to accord services and service suppliers of Antigua treatment no less
favourable [sic] than that provided for under the terms, limitations and conditions
agreed and specified in the US Schedule, contrary to Article XVI:1 and Article XVI:2
of the GATS (i.e. concerning market access).
59. Id.; see also 15 U.S.C. §§ 3001-3007 (The Interstate Horse Racing Act).
63. Id. The appellate panel
reversed the Panel’s finding that the United States had not shown that the three federal
statutes are “necessary to protect public morals or to maintain public order” within the
meaning of Article XIV(a); found that the United States’ measures are justified under
Article XVI(a) of the GATS as measures “necessary to protect public morals or to
maintain public order;” and upheld, albeit on a narrower ground, the Panel’s finding
In April 2005, the DSB adopted the panel report as modified by the
appellate panel and recommended that the United States bring the
inconsistent measures into conformity with its GATS obligations.64 The
U.S. intended to comply with the DSB recommendations through
legislation.65 Rather than pass any legislation ameliorating the DSB
concerns, in April 2006, the U.S. informed the DSB that it had been in
compliance with its recommendations all along, using as evidence a
DOJ statement made before a U.S. House of Representatives
The Department of Justice views the existing criminal statutes as
prohibiting the interstate transmission of bets or wagers, including
wagers on horse races. The Department is currently undertaking a
civil investigation relating to a potential violation of law regarding
this activity. We have previously stated that we do not believe that
the Interstate Horse Racing Act, 15 U.S.C. §§3001-3007, amended
the existing criminal statutes. In view of these circumstances, the
United States is in compliance with the recommendations and rulings
of the DSB in this dispute.66
Antigua and Barbados assert that the U.S. has failed to comply as
the DOJ statement was in fact one of the arguments proposed to and
rejected by both the panel and appellate panel.67 Antigua and Barbados
have requested that the DSB establish a panel assessing U.S. compliance
that the United States had failed to show that these measures satisfy the conditions of
the chapeau of Article XIV.
Sponsored by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.),69 UIGEA was
added to the Safe Port Act (HR 4954)70 at the urging of Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-Az.).71 Goodlatte
sponsored the bill because of his belief that Internet gambling hurts
All the problems that manifest themselves with gambling, even in
heavily regulated states, are even worse on the Internet. There are
family problems, bankruptcy problems, gambling addiction,
gambling by minors, using gambling to launder money for criminal
and terrorist organizations and organized crimes. It does not help our
President Bush signed the bill into law in October, 2006.73
UIGEA is based on two bills that previously failed to gain
Congressional approval, H.R. 4411 and H.R. 4777.74 The “Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2005” (H.R. 4411) sought to
criminalize facilitating unlawful Internet gambling transactions.75 The
“Internet Gambling Prohibition Act,” (H.R. 4777) “was designed to
expand the coverage of the Wire Act to most types of gambling services
offered over the Internet.”76 UIGEA does not expand the scope of the
Wire Act by criminalizing Internet gambling, rather UIGEA aims to
prevent Internet gambling by making it difficult for Internet gamblers to
B. Key Provisions
UIGEA begins with Congress’ findings and purpose.78 Congress
found (1) that Internet gambling is funded primarily through electronic
means,79 (2) that a 1999 congressional commission recommended
legislation prohibiting electronic fund transfers to Internet gambling
sites,80 (3) that Internet gambling is a growing problem for some
financial institutions,81 and (4) that new mechanisms are needed if law is
to keep pace with technology.82 Congress notes that UIGEA does not
alter any federal, state or tribal law regulating gambling.83
With congressional purpose established, UIGEA proceeds to define
key terms relating to the Act. UIGEA defines a bet or wager as risking
something of value on a contest, sporting event or game subject to
chance.84 A wager also includes purchasing an opportunity to win a
prize when that opportunity is subject predominantly to chance.85
Further, a wager includes any instrument or information that facilitates
the movement of gambling funds.86 UIGEA does however exempt
certain activities from being considered a bet or wager.87 A bet or wager
does not include any activity governed by the Securities and Exchange
Commission88 or any activity exempt from regulation under the
Commodity Exchange Act.89 UIGEA also exempts from consideration
several types of fantasy sports.90 UIGEA defines unlawful Internet
gambling as knowingly transmitting a wager via the Internet where such
wager violates any applicable federal, state or tribal law.91 UIGEA
exempts from consideration intrastate bets,92 intra-tribal transactions93
and activities allowed under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.94
After defining its relevant terms, UIGEA then creates prohibitions.
UIGEA prohibits any person engaged in the business of betting or
wagering from accepting an unlawful Internet gambling wager via
credit,95 electronic fund transfer,96 check97 or other financial
transaction.98 UIGEA extends the prohibition to all financial
institutions, requiring them to identify and block the restricted
transactions.99 UIGEA exempts restricted transactions that are not
practical to identify and block.100
Finally, UIGEA creates the framework under which its prohibitions
will be enforced. Federal financial institution regulators and the Federal
Trade Commission are charged with enforcing UIGEA.101 Under
UIGEA, both the United States attorney general102 and state attorney
generals103 may bring suit in federal court to prevent or restrain
restricted transactions.104 Successful prosecution carries a criminal
penalty of a fine and no more than five years in prison.105
UIGEA’s definition of unlawful Internet gambling is ambiguous as
it is inconsistent with federal case law.106 UIGEA allows the DOJ to
prosecute American financial institutions that facilitate a wager on a
contest, sporting event, or game of chance,107 but in interpreting the
Wire Act, the courts have only deemed Internet wagers on sports and
races illegal.108 Internet casino games (which are games of chance) fall
outside the scope of the Wire Act and are legal.109 Further, the courts
have never spoken to the legality of Internet poker.110 The Poker
Players Alliance asserts that poker falls beyond both the Wire Act and
UIGEA because poker is a game of skill, not chance.111
UIGEA exemptions allowing financial institutions to facilitate
wagers conflict directly with the rationale for enacting UIGEA. As
mentioned above, Goodlatte proposes that Internet gambling creates a
moral hazard issue.112 The aim of UIGEA is to curb online gambling by
preventing American financial institutions from facilitating fund
transfers.113 Yet, UIGEA creates exceptions in which American
financial institutions may facilitate several types of Internet gambling
including securities trading, fantasy sports, intrastate wagers, intratribal
wagers and activities relating to the Interstate Horseracing Act.114 In
order to realize fully its policy goals, UIGEA would have to eliminate
UIGEA will not achieve its aim of preventing financial transactions
between American bettors and Internet gambling sites for two reasons—
bettors skirt the law by using e-wallets115 and American financial
institutions are exempted from monitoring checks:
The act makes it illegal for banks to transfer money from customer
accounts to online gambling firms. But for the most part, bettors
don’t pay their online bookies directly. Payments usually are routed
to offshore firms through an online intermediary such as
Canadianbased Neteller,116 the biggest money-transfer firm in this sphere. In
addition, American banking lobbyists insisted that the most basic
form of payment be exempted if the industry was to support the law.
That’s the good old-fashioned check—both paper and electronic
versions—whose volume made them impossible to monitor. So
checks are exempted.117
Many e-wallets fall outside the reach of UIGEA as they are
incorporated in foreign nations and are not subject to U.S. regulations.118
Further, gambling transactions from foreign e-wallets are difficult to
monitor because e-wallets mix illegal Internet gambling transactions
with other, legal transactions.119
In order to dissuade players from placing wagers, UIGEA would
need to criminalize the act of online gambling itself.120 As worded,
UIGEA provides no disincentives for the average Internet bettor, who
faces no criminal liability.121 Further, Internet gamblers need only spend
a few extra minutes setting up an e-wallet in order to navigate UIGEA’s
current restrictions.122 Bettors are not inconvenienced by UIGEA123 and
anything short of criminal liability is unlikely to dissuade them.124
Even if UIGEA were to impose criminal penalties on individual
bettors, two huge obstacles would have to be surmounted for
enforcement: the privacy of the home and the anonymity of the Internet.
Clearly, the bulk of online gambling is done in the home.125
Furthermore, obtaining warrants for the over 20 million Internet
gamblers126 would prove near impossible given the anonymity enjoyed
by bettors.127 The DOJ has pushed Internet service providers to increase
data retention efforts, but Congress has yet to approve such action.128
As worded, UIGEA fails to prevent Americans from gambling online;
further, UIGEA directly has negatively affected the world economy.
III. EFFECTS OF UIGEA Vol. XII
A. UIGEA Caused Decline in Share Value for Several
International Public Companies
When Congress passed UIGEA as part of the Safe Port Act,
numerous international companies experienced an immediate decline in
share value.129 Several public sports-books listed on the London Stock
Exchange lost over half their value on the first day of trading following
UIGEA’s passage—Partygaming PLC lost 2.4 billion sterling (58% of
its value) and Sportingbet PLC lost 497 million sterling (64% of its
value) by the end of the first trading day following UIGEA’s passage.130
Nasdaq-listed companies such as Canada’s Cryptologic Inc. and
Taiwan’s GigaMedia, both Internet gambling software manufacturers,
also experienced significant immediate drops in share value.131
UIGEA’s passage directly cost public companies money.
B. UIGEA Undermined WTO obligations
In its WTO dispute against Antigua and Barbados, the United States
asserted that federal measures preventing Internet gambling satisfied
WTO requirements as measures necessary to protect public morals.132
The panel found that the U.S. laws were, in fact, measures enacted to
protect public morals, but that these measures failed the “necessary test”
required by the WTO.133 The appellate panel, however, found that these
measures did pass the necessary test, but failed the WTO equal
application test as “the U.S. did not demonstrate that the prohibition
embodied in the measures at issue applied to both foreign and domestic
suppliers of remote gambling services.”134 Specifically, the appellate
panel found that the Interstate Horse-Racing Act seemingly allowed
domestic interstate Internet gambling for horse racing.135
As a member nation of the WTO, the United States has a GATS
obligation to open its Internet gambling markets to foreign
competition.136 Prior to the passage of UIGEA, the WTO ruled that the
United States violated it GATS obligations by denying market access to
foreign Internet gambling sites.137 UIGEA was based on two failed
legislative proposals, H.R. 4411 and H.R. 4777.138 In its dispute
settlement report, the WTO explicitly states that “[e]ach Bill is not only
non-responsive to the recommendations and rulings of the DSB, [but
also] each is in fact directly contrary to the recommendations and rulings
in several key respects.”139
As a WTO member, the United States has an obligation to adhere to
Dispute Settlement Board decisions.140 In April 2005, the dispute
resolution panel ruled that the United States must bring its domestic
policy in line with its WTO obligations.141 As the April 2006 deadline
approached, the United States still had not enacted any measures
satisfying the DSB decision.142 One week later, the United States
informed the DSB of its compliance with the DSB ruling based on a
DOJ statement.143 Antigua and Barbados dispute that the DOJ statement
constitutes compliance with the DSB ruling and have requested that the
DSB review the matter.144
The United States’ failure to respect two major WTO obligations,
adherence to GATS provisions and adherence Dispute Resolution Panel
ruling, diminishes WTO credibility and opens the door for other member
nations to neglect WTO obligations:
The failure of countries to adhere fully to their World Trade
Organization obligations would significantly erode, and perhaps
completely vitiate, the ability of the World Trade Organization to
136. See supra notes 57-63 and accompanying text.
138. See supra notes 74-76 and accompanying text.
139. See DSR, supra note 64, at 11.
140. See supra notes 40-43 and accompanying text.
141. See supra note 64 and accompanying text.
142. See DSR, supra note 64, at 3.
143. See supra note 66 and accompanying text.
144. See supra notes 67, 69 and accompanying text; see also DSR, supra note 64, at
15 (implying that the matter is still unresolved but that the “United States has agreed to
accept the establishment of a panel at the first meeting at which this request for the
establishment of a panel appears on the agenda”). As of this point, this Author is
unaware of the establishment of such a panel.
perform its functions. The World Trade Organization has no
resources of its own to enforce compliance. Instead, its authority
“will depend entirely on its credibility.” Defiance of any treaty
creates a risk that the cooperative structure built around that treaty
will collapse. Indeed, one senior trade official has predicted that if
the World Trade Organization’s “authority is once eroded by a big
trading power, that will be the end of the [World Trade
Further, if the United States continues to ignore its responsibilities, it may lose invaluable WTO protections: WTO
If the United States remains recalcitrant, under the WTO rules,
Antigua would potentially have the right to suspend its own
compliance with the treaty that obligates it to respect the United
States’ intellectual-property laws. . . . In such a scenario, Antigua
couldn’t simply be ostracized as a rogue state. It would have every
right under WTO rules to pursue such a course. In fact, Antigua
could go down this road only in response to the United States’
continuing refusal to honor its [sic] international obligations.146
C. UIGEA Increased the Risk to American Bettors
Since the passage of UIGEA, Americans have not stopped
gambling online but have instead shifted their Internet gaming activities
from regulated public websites to unregulated private sites.147 Public
Internet gaming websites are those sites with publicly traded parent
companies.148 Because of both DOJ prosecutions and UIGEA, these
sites are voluntarily removing themselves from the American Internet
gaming market for fear of criminal prosecution and further economic
harm.149 Private Internet gaming sites, such as Bodog.com and
FullTiltPoker.com, have privately owned parent companies.150 These
sites contend that they are beyond the reach of UIGEA and the DOJ and
are continuing to do business as usual with American bettors.151
Public Internet gaming sites are regulated by the exchanges on
which their parent companies trade while private Internet gaming sites
are completely unregulated.152 Regulation of Internet gaming sites
benefit bettors because regulated sites offer financial transparency and
gaming integrity.153 Unregulated private websites answer to no one,
which increases the risk of theft of player funds or skewed odds.154
D. UIGEA Increased the Risk of Money Laundering
The DOJ asserts that Internet gambling increases the risk for money
laundering due “to the volume, speed, and international reach of Internet
transaction and offshore locations of most Internet gambling sites, as
well as the fact that the industry itself is already cash-intensive.”155 One
legislative intention behind UIGEA was to reduce the risk of money
laundering by making Internet gaming transactions more difficult to
complete.156 By preventing direct links to American financial
institutions, UIGEA has not prevented American gamblers from
gambling, but has merely forced them to use e-wallet intermediaries to
151. Id. (explaining that private companies do not interpret UIGEA as banning
casino style games, leaving the industry “in a legal gray area that has existed since
November, 2002, when the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the 1961 Wire Act
only applied to ‘sporting events or contests’ and not to wagers in general”).
[T]he new law will do little to stop online gambling, say gamblers, betting companies,
and industry analysts alike. Instead, the law will drive out regulated, publicly traded
companies like PartyGaming, the Gibraltar-based parent of PartyPoker, and make way
for private gambling companies and banks based in nations where such industries are
loosely policed at best. As a result, the new law could ultimately make billions of
dollars in U.S. online gambling transactions more difficult to trace, and increase the
likelihood that funds end up in criminal hands. “It leaves an opening for some of the
more unscrupulous companies coming in from unregulated places,” says Frank
Catania, former director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
155. John G. Malcolm, 2003 Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Banking,
Housing, and Urban Affairs, http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/Malcolm
Testimony318.htm (last visited May 22, 2007).
156. See supra note 72 and accompanying text.
Preventing American financial institutions from facilitating Internet
gaming transactions will increase the chance of money laundering.158
Direct linking to American financial institutions allows for better
monitoring and reduces the risk of money laundering.159 E-wallets
increase the risk of money laundering because many are incorporated in
countries with lax regulatory oversight.160 Further, when e-wallets
transfer funds to American financial institutions, both gambling and
non-gambling funds are mixed making it difficult for American banks to
E. UIGEA Reflects a Suspect Public Policy Goal
UIGEA’s legislative history reflects the public policy notion that
gambling hurts society and ought to be strictly regulated.162 While
Congress may espouse such a notion, millions of Americans do not and
continue to gamble online, a disregard for legislative authority
paralleling the alcohol prohibition of 1919.163 Although gambling may
in general place a strain on individuals, families, and communities,164
targeting online gambling will not remedy America’s overall gambling
problem because the United States continues to allow numerous
gambling alternatives. Gambling is ingrained in American life: lottery
tickets, bingo, sports betting, office pools, fantasy leagues, horse races,
and Las Vegas are but some of the gambling outlets available in the
United States.165 The addictive nature of gambling itself coupled with
the numerous avenues to gambling have resulted in millions of
Americans developing gambling problems, some so severe that the
consequences are bankruptcy, divorce and even suicide.166 Further,
gambling has turned many addicts into first-time criminals who commit
felonies to pay off gambling debts, particularly financial crimes like
embezzlement, check kiting, tax evasion, as well as credit card, loan,
and insurance fraud.167
As such, state and federal governments have a legitimate interest in
passing laws aimed at protecting public morals.168 A problem arises,
however, when the federal government fails to restrict all forms of
gambling in a uniform manner.169 In deciding that the U.S. failed to
honor its WTO obligations, the appellate panel found that U.S. public
moral concerns are legitimate on their face but fail to pass WTO scrutiny
because U.S. federal measures are not applied equally to foreign and
domestic remote gambling services.170 The fact that the IHA seemingly
allows domestic interstate Internet gambling,171 coupled with the
numerous non-Internet interstate gambling activities that exist across the
United States,172 reflects an inconsistent and therefore suspect public
The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 will have
an effect contrary to its legislative intentions as Americans are not
deterred from wagering online, and as the risk of money laundering will
increase as unregulated private Internet gambling sites replace regulated
public Internet gambling sites. Further, UIGEA undermines United
States’ World Trade Organization obligations as it echoes inconsistent
application of federal laws, with repercussions on a potentially global
scale. Congress should repeal UIGEA and create a regulatory
mechanism satisfactory of the U.S.’s WTO obligations. Doing so will
allow America to avoid a second prohibition and contribute to a more
seamless global economy.
167. Id. (explaining that “[p]athological gamblers are responsible for an estimated
$1,300,000,000 worth of insurance-related fraud per year”).
169. See supra note 134 and accompanying text.
170. See supra note 132 and accompanying paragraph.
171. See supra note 135 and accompanying text.
172. See supra note 165 and accompanying text.
32. GAO Report, supra note 5 , at 1.
33. Id . (explaining that the comprehensive legal and factual study “recommended (1) that the federal government prohibit any Internet gambling not already authorized and encourage foreign governments not to harbor Internet gambling organizations, and (2) that Congress pass legislation prohibiting the collection of credit card debt for Internet gambling”).
34. Id .
35. Pope , supra note 3, at 905 ( explaining that the federal government uses decades old statutes to prosecute Internet gambling operations because specific “federal legislation aimed at combating Internet gambling has failed to gain passage by Congress”).
36. Philip M. Nichols , Trade Without Values, 90 NW. U.L. REV. 658 , 658 - 59 ( 1996 ) (describing the World Trade Organization formation as a result of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations) .
37. See Understanding the WTO: Members and Observers , http://www.wto.org/ english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm (listing 150 member nations) (last visited Apr . 16 , 2007 ); see also US Paves Way For Russia WTO Entry, BBC NEWS , Nov . 19 , 2006 , http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6163008.stm (reporting Russia's impending entry into the WTO, bringing total WTO membership to 150 nations) .
38. Craig A.A. Dixon , Note, Environmental Survey of WTO Dispute Panel Resolution Decisions Since 1995 : “Trade at All Costs?”, 24 WM. & MARY ENVTL. L . & POL'Y REV . 89 , 91 - 92 ( 2000 ).
39. Nichols , supra note 36, at 659.
40. Jay L. Eizenstat , Comment, The Impact of the World Trade Organization on Unilateral United States Trade Sanctions Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 : A Case Study of the Japanese Auto Dispute and the Fuji-Kodak Dispute, 11 EMORY INT'L L. REV . 137 , 149 ( 1997 ).
41. Nichols , supra note 36.
42. Eizenstat , supra note 40.
43. Id . at 151.
44. Stewart M. Young , Article: Whistleblowing in a Foreign Key: The Consistency of Ethics Regulation under Sarbanes-Oxley with the WTO GATS Provisions, 32 DENV . J. INT'L L . & POL 'Y 55 , 59 ( 2003 ).
45. World Trade Organization: Services Sectoral Classification List, MTN .GNS/W/120 (July 10, 1991 ), http://www.takuzinis. lv/xhtml1.1/20040417.html (last visited May 22 , 2007 ). These services include business, communications, construction, distribution, educational, environmental, financial, health, tourism, recreational and transport . Id.
46. Young , supra note 44, at 60: With trade in services, one does recognize the legitimate need for regulations. There is a legitimate purpose to restricting trade in services to maintain proper quality for those services domestically, while there is also a legitimate need to liberalize the trade of these services as well. GATS is a mesh of these two legitimate needs; allowing countries on the one hand to keep their legitimate restrictions and regulations on certain industries, while also creating an atmosphere of liberalization of trade in those industries through an international agreement .
47. Id . at 61.
48. Id . (explaining that “the WTO seeks to ensure that member nations do not attempt to hinder international trade unless the WTO member has legitimate and genuine objectives (known as a national policy objective within the wording of GATS)” ).
49. Id . at 62.
50. Id . at 63.
51. Id .
52. Id . at 64.
53. United States - Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services, World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement: Dispute DS285 , (Jan. 5 , 2007 ) http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds285_e.htm. The WTO views Internet gambling as a service covered by GATS sub-sector entitled “Other Recreational Services (except sporting)” to which the United States claimed no exception in its Schedule of Commitments . Id.
54. Id .
55. Id . (stating that Antigua claimed violations of GATS Articles II, VI, VIII, XI, XVI and XVII) .
56. Id . (stating that the U.S. claimed exceptions under GATS Articles XIV(a) and
69. Ahrens , supra note 2.
70. I. Nelson Rose, Gambling and the Law: The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 Analyzed ( 2006 ), http://www.gamblingandthelaw.com/columns/2006_act. htm (last visited May 22 , 2007 ).
Professor I. Nelson Rose is an internationally known scholar, public speaker and writer and is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on gambling law. A 1979 graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a tenured full Professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California, where he teaches one of the first law school classes on gaming law.
I. Nelson Rose , http://www.casinocitytimes.com/news/article.cfm?contentID= 161472 (last visited May 22, 2007 ).
71. AFX News Limited, Roundup: Online Gaming Stocks Plummet After AntiGaming Legislation Passed , http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/afx/2006/10/02/afx 3059915. html (last visited May 22 , 2007 ); see also Rose, supra note 70 . UIGEA “was rammed through Congress by the Republican leadership in the final minutes before the election period recess . According to Frank R. Lautenberg ( D-NJ), no one on the Senate-House Conference Committee had even seen the final language of the bill .” Id.
72. Ahrens , supra note 2.
73. Id .
74. Rose , supra note 70.
106. See Rose, supra note 70.
107. See supra notes 84 , 91 , 99 , 102 and accompanying text.
108. See Rose, supra note 70; see also, supra note 31.
109. See supra note 31 and accompanying text .
110. See Rose, supra note 70.
111. Poker Players Alliance, Memo to Members, available at http://www.pokerplayersalliance.org/alerts/Poker_Players_Alliance_Action_Plan_Oct._ 1.pdf.
112. See supra note 72 and accompanying text .
113. See supra note 77 and accompanying text .
114. See supra notes 88-90 , 92 - 94 and accompanying text.
115. Associated Press, Experts: Online Gambling Ban Won't Work , http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933, 224839 ,00.html (last visited May 22 , 2007 ) (explaining that online payment processors are known as e-wallets) .
116. In January 2007, Neteller voluntarily removed itself from the U.S. online gaming market following the arrest of 2 of its executives, who were charged with money laundering. See Aaron Todd, NETeller exit impacts U.S. Internet gambling market (Jan . 18, 2007 ), http://aarontodd.casinocitytimes.com/articles/32260.html. Epassporte.com, MyWebAtm, and YouTeller have emerged to replace Neteller as the ewallets of choice for U.S. online gamblers . See Haley Hintz, U.S. Friendly Online Poker Rooms: Where to Play, How to Pay, http://www.pokernews.com/news/2007/2/ us-friendly -online-poker-rooms . htm (last visited May 22 , 2007 ).
117. John Heylar, New Anti-Gambling Law Won't Stop Online Bettors, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id= 2611872 (last visited May 22, 2007 ).
118. See Rose, supra note 70.
119. See GAO Report, supra note 5 , at 27. The report states that e-wallets: [E]nable consumers to use their credit cards to set up accounts with many kinds of Internet-based merchants, including online casinos. The issuers indicated that while on-line payment providers did not circumvent the coding system, most aggregators' transactions were not coded to reflect the purpose or type of transaction such as Internet gambling. Because credit card transaction codes can be obscured as the transactions pass through such intermediaries, issuing banks cannot determine whether credit card funds are being used for Internet gambling . Id.
120. David H. Lantzer , Internet Gaming Tax Regulation: Can Old Laws Learn New Tricks? , 5 CHAP. L. REV. 281 , 285 ( 2002 ) (explaining that gambling legislation is ineffective as long as bettors are exempt from prosecution).
121. See Rose, supra note 70 ( “Being in the 'business of betting or wagering' still does not include mere players .”); see also 31 U.S.C. § 5363 ( 2007 ).
122. Catherine Holahan , Online Gambling Goes Underground: A U.S. Law Aimed at Cracking Down Internet Gambling May Drive the Practice More Into the Shadows and Do Little to Deter Bettors, http://www.businessweek.com/print/technology/content/oct2006/tc20061019_ 454543 . h tm (last visited May 22, 2007 ).
123. Id .
124. See Rose, supra note 70.
125. Lara Farrar , Caught in the Gambling Web , http://www.cnn.com/ 2006/TECH/internet/07/20/online.gambling/index. html (last visited May 22 , 2007 ).
126. See Ahrens, supra note 2.
127. See Farrar, supra note 125.
128. Hintze , Haley. U.S. Justice Dept. Officials Continue Push for Increased NetMonitoring , http://www.pokernews.com/news/2006/10/justice-officials -push-netmonitoring . htm (last visited May 22 , 2007 ). On October 18 , 2006 : FBI Director Robert Mueller called on Internet service providers to record and store records of their customers' online activities to a greater degree than that currently mandated by law. The move, part of the greater battle between governmental control and the freedom and flow of information that the Internet represents, is likely to trigger fierce debate as privacy and law-enforcement concerns butt heads in a legal battle that's now expected to occur early in 2007.
129. See AFX News Limited , supra note 71.
130. See AFX News Limited , supra note 71.
131. See Herron, supra note 1.
132. See note 56 and accompanying text.
133. Bridges: Weekly Trade News Digest , Antigua, U.S. Gambling Dispute: Appellate Body Issues Mixed Report , http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/05-04-13/story2.htm (last visited May 22 , 2007 ).
134. Id .
135. Id .
145. See Nichols, supra note 36 , at 708-09.
146. Henry Lanman , Rolling the Dice: The United States Big Legal Gamble With Internet Gaming , http://www.slate.com/id/2153352/fr/rss (last visited May 22 , 2007 ).
147. See Holahan, supra note 122 (explaining that, during the weekend following UIGEA's signing, several private Internet gambling sites “saw record numbers of players . . . , according to Louisiana's Casino City, which monitors traffic on online poker sites in its trade journals .”).
148. Id .
149. Id .
150. Id .