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Frank’s Bill to Regulate Online Poker ‘Unlikely’ to be Heard This Month

The Future of Online Poker in the United States -- Part 3


Rep. Barney Frank will not likely hold a hearing on HR 2267 until at least October.Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to explicitly legalize and regulate online poker in the United States is “unlikely” to be heard this month, as the Congressman focuses on financial regulatory reform, the Poker Players Alliance told Card Player this week.

However, the PPA will be actively pushing his second poker-related bill, which would delay the implementations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act for one year, and is hopeful that bill could be voted on by the House Committee on Financial Services as early as this month.

“The feedback we got (from a meeting with Rep. Frank’s staff this week) was that it’s unlikely that we will hold a hearing in September; however, the door is not closed on that,” said PPA Executive Director John Pappas, speaking about H.R. 2267: The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, a bill Rep. Frank introduced in May that would regulate the online poker industry.

With that reality in place, the PPA is actively moving on Rep. Frank’s other poker-related bill, H.R. 2266: Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act:, a piece of legislation that would delay the full implementation of the UIGEA from Dec. 1, 2009 to Dec. 1, 2010.

“Quite honestly, the preference of the PPA is to move [H.R. 2266] sooner rather than later, and not wait until October,” said Pappas. “We believe that the bill as it stands right now faces some opposition if it’s a simple delay. However, we’re working with the opposition to see if a compromise could be drafted.”

While Pappas didn’t expand on the type of compromises the PPA would be willing to offer, it is evident that such sacrifices could help simplify and expedite the process for H.R. 2266 to get passed.

“We’re hopeful that if we can present to Chairman Frank a compromised bill that could easily go through his committee without too much fighting and debate — that we could get that done possibly in this month,” said Pappas.

If it were a non-controversial bill, it likely wouldn’t be bogged down with a hearing and hours of discussion on both the committee and House floor.

“Hopefully, we wouldn’t even have to have a hearing. It could be a mark-up. A hearing is where you sit and talk about the bill. A mark-up is where you actually vote on it,” said Pappas. “The hope from our side is that if we can craft a non-controversial compromise, it is something that could be heard and voted on by the committee this month.”

If it were approved by the committee, the bill could be passed by the House as a typical corrections bill, “like where they name post offices and things like that,” said Pappas.

While he is eager to move on the delay bill, Pappas expressed disappointment to Card Player after he was told that Rep. Frank’s overarching piece of poker legislation probably wouldn’t be the subject of a hearing until at least October.

“Obviously, that’s not what we wanted to hear, but it’s the reality of the Congress and the reality of their schedule,” said Pappas. “What the PPA is going to do is continue to push for it as soon as possible, but in the meantime, build as much support for the legislation both on the committee and off the committee.”

Rep. Frank had previously told Card Player that he hoped to hold a vote on The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act by this month.

That act has 55 co-sponsors in the House, but Pappas expects that number to move “closer to 70” in the next few weeks.

Rep. Frank’s bills, along with Sen. Robert Menendez’s “Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Protection and Enforcement Act,” are the major focus of the PPA right now. However, Rep. Jim McDermott has introduced a bill this year entitled, “Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act,” which would collect a tax on companies collecting online poker revenue. Rep. Shelley Berkley introduced a bill requiring the study of the effects of online poker last year, but declined to introduce it again in this legislative session, saying that she no longer thought it was necessary.

This was the third and final part of a series, “What’s Next? The Future of Online Poker in the United States.” For a more complete picture, read Part 1, which focused on the banks’ preparation for the UIGEA regulations, and Part 2, which focused on the possibility of intrastate poker.