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Barney Frank Discusses Online Poker on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Frank Takes on Leno In Debate Over the Legalization of Online Poker


Rep. Barney FrankCongressman Barney Frank (D-MA) joined Jay Leno on The Tonight Show on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, HR 2267 — the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act — which is in Committee.

Frank began his debate with Leno by pointing out the obvious … that the federal government was wasting an opportunity to collect billions in taxes by not legalizing and regulating online poker in the United States.

“We now make it illegal for adults to gamble on the internet,” Frank said. “If you have some guy who wants to play poker on the Internet, we say it’s illegal. Why [anybody] thinks that’s the government’s business is beyond me. We could make billions of dollars a year by making it legal and taxing it.”

Though Frank had the obvious support of the audience, Leno was quick to disagree, pointing out that live gambling is acceptable because it isn’t readily available.

“Vegas works because you have to go to the desert to get there,” Leno said. “You lose your money and you come home. You can’t go to the desert again until you get more money. If you’re sitting at home and you’re up late at night and you got your little credit card, next thing you know … it’s like a mini bar.”

Frank immediately shut down that argument, pointing out that there were casinos all over the country in places such as Tunica and Atlantic City. He then explained that HR 2267 excludes the use of credit cards and only allows payments through debit and prepaid cards, theoretically to avoid having people gamble with money they don’t have.

Though the conversation shifted from online gambling to the lottery’s impact on education to the legalization of marijuana, Frank recapped his entire argument with one single point: “As a general rule, the government shouldn’t be trying to live people’s lives for them.”

Frank’s bill has also met some opposition from some California land-based casinos including the Bicycle Casino, Hollywood Park, Hawaiian gardens and most notably, the Commerce Casino. Commerce Casino board member Tom Malkasian testified in opposition to the bill during a hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee in July.

Last week, Malkasian and fellow Commerce board member Haig Papaian issued a statement that California’s largest poker room supports online poker but the Frank Bill would “would ship jobs, revenue and taxes beyond our communities.”

Californians, according to state wide studies, wager an estimated $13.4 billion annually.

You can watch Frank’s appearance on The Tonight Show below.