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Obama's Midnight Freeze Comes One Day Too Late - But Calls for Citizens to Remake the Country


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
January 21, 2009

            President Obama put a restriction on all pending legislation from his predecessor’s administration, just minutes after being sworn into office. Unfortunately for online casinos, this happened one day too late. The UIGEA was permanently implemented on Monday – the day so many celebrated as George W. Bush’s last day as president of the United States.

            Bush had banned all of Bill Clinton’s last minute regulations after coming into office.  Obama followed this example, refusing to pass any midnight regulations until his administration had time to properly review them.

A press release from the White house yesterday revealed that “White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a memorandum sent to all agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration.”

Much to the dismay of online casino gambling advocates, William Wichterman had pressured the U.S. Treasury Department to complete the new text in the UIGEA by November 19th. By doing so, it was passed within the 60-day deadline for review.

            There is still hope for online casino gambling, however. While the Congressional Review Act of 1996 only allows the administration to reconsider legislation passed less than 60 days prior to Obama’s taking the oath, new legislation is being considered that would enable Congress to overturn any midnight rules.

            Dubbed the “Midnight Rule Act,” a bill proposed by Jerrold Nadler would allow the current administration to review regulations passed within the last three months of the prior presidency (see http://casinointensity.com/news_dtls.php?news_id=174).

            In the meantime, the banking industry continues to express their disapproval of new UIGEA regulations which leave them in charge of enforcing criminal offenses. One of the many reasons that the regulatory act has been criticized by U.S. legislators is that it is too vague in defining what constitutes as “unlawful internet gambling.” Because even U.S. officials are unable to undertake the task of enforcing the law, it has been passed onto financial institutions that are equally as clueless.

            The only comfort banks can take is that the regulations will not go into effect until December 1st. This will allow Congress time to either implement the “Midnight Rule Act,” or overturn the bill itself.  

            Obama’s first proclamation calls on the aid of every American citizen, and so the responsibility of fighting for the right to gamble falls also on residents of this nation. “…I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by the authority invested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

            “In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.”