Upcoming Hearing on Internet Gambling Bills

Barney Frank has managed to find time amongst the financial meltdown, health care and the global war on terror to arrange for a full hearing of the House Financial Services Comittee on his two ‘gambling bills’ – H.R. 2266, Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, and H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement

Barney Frank has managed to find time amongst the financial meltdown, health care and the global war on terror to arrange for a full hearing of the House Financial Services Comittee on his two ‘gambling bills’ – H.R. 2266, Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, and H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. This hearing most likely will not produce any great changes, but it is a good sign. A sign that perhaps Washington is realizing that they can’t stop Internet gambling, so, maybe a legal, regulatory stance would be better than the prohibitionist tact that has prevailed via our legislators in recent years.

“The government should not interfere with people’s liberty unless there is a good reason,” Frank said. “This is, I believe, the single biggest example of an intrusion into the principle that people should be free to do things on the Internet. It’s clearly the case that gambling is an activity that can be done offline but not online.”

H.R. 2266 is almost a moot point by now. On Black Friday the government delayed the implementation of the UIGEA for 6 months. Mr. Frank’s bill is looking to delay it for a year. 6 months, a year, either works in the favor of everyone involved. However, by delaying the implementation of the regulations for basically all of 2010 it would give Frank’s other bill a chance to gain some ground. H.R. 2266 has a total of 54 sponsors who hopefully will attend the hearings.

Hr. 2267 is the big one. And it has more support with 63 co-sponsors. This is the bill to actually legalize betting on the Internet here in the U.S. Well, at least for poker and potentially casino games and other forms of gambling, but not sports betting. That is hurdle that no one is willing to tackle . . . yet.

The bill states that “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.” Opponents argue that legalized online gambling is a danger to our youth and this bill includes safeguards to prevent underage or compulsive gambling and other illegal activity, to protect consumers who gamble online. To further emphasize this point, the name of the bill, unlike former versions by Frank and Robert Wexler, now includes ‘Consumer Protection’ in its name.

The most significant thing that these hearings give the Internet gambling community, operators and U.S. players alike, is hope. Hope that someday, in our lifetime, placing a wager from the confines of you own home will be 100% legal and regulated in the States. The last time Barney Frank brought a similar anti-UIGEA bill before the Finance subcommittee there was a tie vote to move it out of committee. And in the U.S. Government, a push is a loss. A single vote in favor of what was then H.R.5767 would have accelerated this process and hope would have been alive for the past 13 months. We urge all readers to contact their Representatives. You can find your reps here. Please take action today!

Taking action is the most important thing that a concerned online player can do to support online gambling in the US. The OSGA can’t do this alone. A successful hearing on Thursday will hopefully lead to a Committee vote in support of these bills.

You can view the proceedings live starting at 10AM on December 3 via the house.gov website. View the debate directly here.

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