Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced two bills today that would dramatically alter the online poker landscape if passed. One bill seeks to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, while the second bill proposes to delay the UIGEA implementations, which are set to begin Dec. 1.
“The government should not interfere with people’s liberty unless there is a very good reason,” Frank said at a news conference today while introducing the bills.
The major bill, entitled “The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act,” will repeal the major obstacles of the UIGEA and go further in protecting Americans from fraud, while safeguarding against underage and problem gamblers, Frank argues.
New York Republican Peter King and Nevada Democrat Shelley Berkley have signed on as co-sponsors.
The Poker Players Alliance, poker’s largest advocacy group, has worked with Frank in the crafting of the bill. The membership organization released a statement early today in full support of Frank’s legislation.
“Online poker is a legal, thriving industry and poker players deserve the consumer protections and the freedom to play that are provided for in this legislation,” said PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato, a former Republican Senator of New York. “We are grateful for Chairman Frank’s leadership, and will be activating our grassroots army made up over one million members to help him drive legislation.”
Frank proposed a similar bill in 2007 that never made it to the House of Representatives floor for a vote. However, the current bill has already earned new support.
According to Bloomberg News, Harrah’s Entertainment registered to lobby in support of online gaming for the first time, spending $405,087 from January to March of this year.
“This is a thriving industry,” said Harrah’s vice president Jan Jones. “They can put in a regulatory structure and they can tax it.”
Frank’s bill would explicitly allow Americans to gamble online with companies that are licensed by the Treasury Department. It would not, however, legalize sports betting.
Frank told Card Player that it would probably be at least September until his bill makes it the House floor for a vote. The Congressman and the PPA encourage all supporters of the bill to write their members of Congress.
“The best thing for the poker community to do now is to rally behind Congressman Frank and his bill,” said John Pappas, the executive director of the PPA. “You need to make sure you tell your congressman or congresswoman how important this bill is to you.”