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The Latest Attempt to Take Down UIGEA

3 March 2011 by admin

John-CampbellEver since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006 by attaching it to the SAFE Port Act after its congressional vote, there have been efforts to repeal it. So far, all of those efforts have failed. The most vocal opponent has been Barney Frank, the Massachusetts liberal representative who has become most identified with online gambling.

Last year, there was a sense of optimism as he and Texas Republican Ron Paul teamed for a bill that would have replaced UIGEA with a regulatory system. As that bill failed to reach a vote by the end of the 111th Congress, all efforts would have to start from scratch this year. Now those efforts are underway but Frank is no longer the leader.

The Hill has reported that Republican John Campbell (California) plans to introduce legislation similar to Frank’s bill from last year. Frank will partner with Campbell as a co-sponsor. There is no current timetable for when the legislation will be introduced, since Campbell is still ironing out some details and has not yet decided to which committee he wants to submit.

It’s interesting that Frank will not be proposing the bill this time. Maybe he feels that the legislation has a better chance in the Republican-controlled House if led by a Republican. Frank also has considerably less sway than he used to. Though he is still a ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, he used to be the chairman. He lost that position when Republicans took the House in November. The current chairman is Spencer Bachus (Alabama). Campbell is a member of the committee, but not a ranking one. Campbell supported Frank’s bill last year, while Bachus opposed it.

All of this comes on the heels of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto of intrastate online gambling in the Garden State. Sources are still optimistic that the bill can be revised to address Christie’s concerns so it will be signed. Florida, California and Iowa also have proposed online gambling regulation bills. Some pessimists thought that the Republican takeover in November would mean UIGEA is here to stay, at least for a while. These developments, however, show that government prohibition on the activity certainly won’t go unchallenged, no matter who is in power. Anti-gambling laws and policies are being attacked at the federal and state level once again in 2011. Time will tell if this year’s approach is more successful.

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