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Washington Post Reports Frank’s Online Gambling Bill is Making Serious Headway

6 February 2010 by Devon Chappell

Spencer Bachus & Barney Frank

Barney, I'm gonna scratch your bill like I scratch a phat mix on the turntables... (Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

When the Washington Post publishes an article titled, “Internet Gambling Again in Play”, then that pretty much means internet gambling is again in play. In fact, up until now, online gambling in the U.S. has never been so close to being regulated.You’ll notice I didn’t use the word liberated, although regulation is something of a liberation in this case. The fact is that strong opposition toward online gambling in the past, not to mention it being a relatively young industry, has helped paint a picture that online gambling does not even stand the slightest chance at being regulated in good ‘ol USA.

Typically, the only media outlets even reporting on regulatory updates, were oftentimes the same forces behind lobbying U.S. politicians, or rather, educating lawmakers on why regulation makes more sense than prohibition, or more importantly, how it can be effectively enforced, much unlike the inherently flawed UIGEA which passed as an attachment to a Port Security bill in 2005, and is still waiting to be enforced (the UIGEA that is – not the Port Security bill).

In fact, the UIGEA was supposed to be implement already this year, but due to heavy resistance by the American Banking Association and several politicians urging the U.S. Treasury to do the same, implementation and enforcement was postponed for another six months, thereby giving Massachusetts Representative and House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Congressman Barney Frank, more time to get his bill – the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA) up for a vote.

With major support from former Republican Senator, Alfonse D’Amato (New York), who is head of the massive poker player’s lobby group, Poker Players Alliance (backed by Canada-based Interactive Gaming Council), Frank’s bill is already up for committee markup in a couple of weeks, and is showing promise for the first time since the passing of the UIGEA. Like I said, it’s even got the attention of the Washington Post.

If Frank’s bill does indeed pass, it would, in effect, overturn the UIGEA, establish federal oversight of online betting companies in exchange for five-year operating licenses, implement protection for minors and compulsory addicts, enforce anti-criminal activity measures, while a companion bill introduced by Washington Democrat, Jim McDermott, would impose a 2% tax on deposits, netting an estimated $42 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. Under the bill, online sports betting would remain illegal (which would appease the NFL and Las Vegas casino sportsbooks), while online poker, skill games such as Mahjong, and online casino games would be legal.

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