Democratic Representative Barney Frank, last year, positioned himself as one of the United States’ most powerful proponents of legalized, regulated, online poker. His position as the head of the Financial Services Committee means that he possess a platform few poker advocates can boast. Poker fans will be glad to hear that he has made the re-introduction of online poker, and the deconstruction of the UIGEA, one of his top priorities for the coming months.
Since it was snuck into an unrelated Port Security bill in late 2006, Frank has been unashamedly opposed to the UIGEA. Sharing the position of groups such as the Poker Player’s Alliance, he believes that the only way to properly reintroduce poker to legality is through regulation and taxation. Last year he introduced a number of bills designed to topple the ban on online gambling, the last of which was approved by the House of Representatives. However, the sudden financial collapse focused priorities elsewhere, as Frank was tasked with, among other things, organizing and overseeing the banks’ billion dollar bailout scheme.
Now, with more Democrats in Congress, and a new president in power, Frank is once again planning to introduce a bill that will push for the reintroduction of legal online gambling in the United States. In a recent press conference, he outlined the key issues that he would pursue early this year, and among them was online poker legalization. After the announcement, he spoke to Gambling911 saying, “I think if we do this right we should make online gaming legal and subject it to a reasonable taxation like anything else.”
This drive for regulation is also being championed by the powerful lobby group, the Poker Player’s Alliance. Former Senator, and PPA Chairman, Alfonse d’Amato, recently had an article featured in ‘Roll Call’ – an important political newspaper in Washington – in which he pointed out the significant financial benefits that could be enjoyed if online poker taxes were introduced. He pointed to other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where successful taxation had been implemented, as an example of the millions of dollars that the U.S. economy is missing out on. He also challenged the misnomer that a regulated poker industry would lead to a detrimental increase in gambling, saying that: “Regulation of Internet poker does not equal an expansion of gambling in this country. Like it or not, that genie is already out of the bottle. The American market has spoken.”
His sympathies are shared by Frank, who also commented that his efforts do “not conflict to our effort to stimulate the economy. This isn’t bad for the economy.” Whether or not his latest bill will be a success remains to be seen, but its chances have never been better. With the potentially lucrative profits to be made, and a more liberal government in place, there is hope that a fully fledged poker industry could once again be a reality in the the United States.