The Chairman of the House Financial Committee in Washington, Barney Frank, has today unveiled his latest attempt at re-legalizing online gambling. Frank has been a consistent supporter of poker and gambling in general and is seen by many as the industry’s most powerful political ally.
The ‘Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act’ does not set out to repeal the UIGEA, merely to craft exemptions for those companies who fulfill the regulations it sets out. Gambling companies who wish to legally reenter the U.S. will be required to acquire an operating license and will be held up to a standard of acceptable behavior.
Before descending into dense technical detail concerning the application of these new rules, the bill lists five conditions all gambling companies hoping to operating within the U.S. will have to conform to. It will be required that sites:
(A) Are in good financial and legal standing, and of good character, honesty, and integrity
(B) Utilize appropriate technology to determine the age and location of users
(C) Adopt and implement systems to protect minors and problem gamblers
(D) Adopt and implement systems to enforce any applicable Federal, State, and Indian tribe limitations on Internet gambling
(E) Have in place risk-based methods to identify and combat money laundering and
fraud relating to Internet gambling, and to protect the privacy and security of users
In the dying days of the Bush administration anti-gambling members of Congress forced through a set of regulations designed to clarify the overly vague UIGEA. Banks were ordered to put in place systems designed to block payments to providers of “illegal online gambling” by December 1st this year. Frank has brought in a companion bill that asks for the deadline to be put back by a full 12 months.
The Poker Player’s Alliance have voiced their full support for Frank’s initiatives. “We are grateful for Chairman Frank’s leadership and will be activating our grassroots army made up of over one million members to help him drive legislation,” said PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato. His organization recently pledged to spend over $1 million supporting the cause of online poker during this Congressional session.
It has also been revealed that some of the gambling industry’s big hitters have been lobbying hard in support of Frank’s endeavors. Online horse-racing site Youbet.com have hired a full time lobbyist to work in Washington, as have casino group Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. The firm, who own and organize the World Series of Poker, have spent $405,087 from January to March working to support the bill’s introduction today.
Frank has stated that his primary concern is to “enable Americans to bet online and put an end to an inappropriate interference with their personal freedom.” The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act is sure to come against heavy opposition, but Frank has been quoted as being “mildly optimistic” about its chances. With grassroots action and big-money industry support behind him these new developments certainly represent the best chance of reintroducing legal online poker to the United States.
The full bill can be read here.