Barney Frank to Introduce Pro-Online Gaming Legislation Wednesday

On Wednesday there will be a press conference on Capitol Hill at 10:00am Eastern Time, hosted by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA). The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the much-anticipated online gaming authorization bill that will, in its essence, repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and call for a legal, regulatory environment in which online gaming can succeed.

Rep. Frank made no secret of his distaste for the UIGEA when it was passed in 2006, and he launched numerous efforts since that time to repeal the law, render it unenforceable, and spur a movement toward legalized online gaming. And upon the election of President Barack Obama in November of 2008 and his subsequent oath-taking in January of 2009, Frank took his rhetoric about the issue of online gaming to a new level. It was in February that he told reporters that he would introduced a bill to repeal the UIGEA , and he continued to speak about it when more pressing issues like the banking crisis allowed.

In March, Frank announced his decision that his upcoming pro-gaming legislation would be introduced as a standalone bill, noting that he would not want to attach it to other legislation as had been done with the UIGEA, something he called “inappropriate.” “I want to do this with hearings, discussions and votes,” he said.

Whether Frank will reintroduce his 2007 Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA) or an entirely new piece of legislation tomorrow remains to be seen. What is being reported by the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI), one of several lobbying organization supporting Frank’s efforts, is that the legislation will incorporate an “enforcement framework for licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from individuals in the U.S.” into a bill that also includes consumer protections against underage gambling and money laundering.

Upon the release of the news of the Wednesday press conference, SSIGI spokesperson Jeffrey Sandman commented, “We applaud Chairman Frank’s strong leadership to advance a common sense approach to regulate Internet gambling and reverse the intrusive, ineffective and burdensome prohibition. Despite the current prohibition, millions of Americans wager more than $100 billion annually with offshore Internet gambling operators. Rather than tell Americans what they can and cannot do online in the privacy of their homes, Chairman Frank’s approach to regulate Internet gambling would protect consumers and allow the U.S. to generate billions in new revenue to fund critical government programs.”

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