Friday, May 08, 2009

Spencer Bachus Responds To Frank Bill, by Earl Burton - Poker News Daily - 7th May 2009

After the announcement on Wednesday of Massachusetts’ Democratic Representative Barney Frank’s bill to curb the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, reaction has been quick. The ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee - of which Frank is the Chairman – has issued a negative response that should come as no surprise as he was one of the key players in the creation of the UIGEA.

Republican Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama issued a statement after Rep. Frank’s announcement yesterday that insinuates that he will fight any legislation that Frank attempts to put into law. Rep. Bachus’ website trumpets proudly that he, “…is an author of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which banned the use of credit cards and other financial instruments from being used for illegal on-line gambling.”

Rep. Bachus’ statement touches on many of the reasons that the Republican-led Congress used in 2006 for pushing the UIGEA through. “Illegal off-shore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age”, he states. He also offers that the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 was, “…commonsense, bipartisan legislation aimed at combating criminals from preying upon American’s youth. That legislation was supported by a broad coalition that included college presidents, the American Bankers Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and major sports organizations.”

Rep. Bachus does not comment, however, on how the UIGEA was tacked on to a piece of legislation that was viewed as a “must pass” portion of national security, the Port Act. He also fails to address that there was no debate over the UIGEA, either in committee or on either floor of Congress; in an important difference, Rep. Frank’s bill is being put to committee for discussion on its own merits and freely debated in the halls of Congress.

The bill that Rep. Frank is proposing is the H.R. 2267 - the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 - and it would be a significant change to current views of Washington regarding the regulation of online gaming and poker. Language of the bill states, “Internet gambling in the United States should be controlled by a strict Federal licensing and regulatory framework to protect underage and otherwise vulnerable individuals, to ensure the games are fair, to address the concerns of law enforcement, and to enforce any limitations on the activity established by the States and Indian tribes.”

The federal government – and in particular the Secretary of the Treasury – would be in charge of licensing and regulating the online gaming industry under the Frank proposal. Companies that pursue licensing would have to provide in-depth detail as to their personal backgrounds and the solidity of their companies. It also includes a proviso that ensures the potential licensee would vigorously work against, “fraud, money laundering, and terrorist finance.” The licenses would last for a five year period and would not allow the holder of the license to partake of any actions that are covered by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which explicitly prohibits sports betting.

With Rep. Frank finally proposing his bill to curb the UIGEA, the debate can now begin. It is thought, with a Democratic-controlled Congress as well as the current Obama Administration in the White House, that the possibilities for change regarding the online gaming and poker industry can be achieved. Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the situation in Washington and report on any new developments. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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