The Act starts with the findings of a report from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, chaired by Republican Kay Coles James, which states that Internet gambling is a growing problem for banks and credit card companies and that ‘new mechanisms for enforcing gambling laws on the Internet are necessary.’
However the bill then reads that ‘no person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept any money transfers in any way from a person participating in unlawful Internet gambling.’ Under the Wire Act, this would mean that online gaming companies would not be able to accept payments or wagers by credit cards, electronic fund transfers, and even paper checks, for services deemed to be risking something of value on the outcome of a contest, sports event or a game subject to chance.
It also targets affiliates who direct traffic to online gambling sites, for financial reward. This would capture affiliates under an aiding and abetting clause, potentially allowing them to be charged under the new bill.
The bill advises banks and other companies involved in electronic money transfers to follow in the footsteps of Visa, who created the merchant code 7995 in 2001 to avoid having its cards used for online gambling.
Federal regulators have 270 days from the date this bill is signed into law to implement new regulations to identify and block money transactions to gambling sites. President Bush is set to sign the bill into law within the next few weeks, meaning that the regulations could go into effect by the beginning of July 2007.