March 10, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – The issue of legalizing and regulating online gambling and Internet poker in the U.S. has certainly grabbed more mainstream media headlines in 2009 and 2010 than it did immediately following the passing of the UIGEA in 2006. However, back when it wasn’t such a popular cause, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank was still fighting for it, though often quietly and unsuccessfully.
Now, Frank’s latest online gambling legalization bill, a holdover from last year called “H.R. 2267: Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act”, continues to quietly gather support in anticipation of a possible vote later this year (after a number of false starts last year). The bill has just received its 66th co-sponsor, Ohio Congressman Charles Wilson, a number of media sources are reporting.
Despite recent competition in the form of a new tax overhaul bill that includes a clause to legalize online gambling that, according to Poker Law Bulletin, “borrows wording from Rep. Barney Frank’s bill”, Frank’s bill still remains more attuned to the realities of the online gambling world than the newer bill (although not all in the gambling industry are thrilled with it, particularly those in the sports betting markets).
That other bill leaves online gambling as mostly an afterthought. “Mainstream media coverage of the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act introduced in the Senate two weeks ago often didn’t even mention the bill’s clause to license and regulate Internet poker,” writes PokerNews.com. That may work to online gambling’s advantage: If it becomes legalized by being buried in other legislation, it may avoid the long, drawn-out debate that Frank’s bill has had to endure. (And, after all, the law attempting to outlaw online gambling, the UIGEA, was itself passed by being buried in other, can’t-miss anti-terrorism legislation.)
“If poker is to get enough support in Congress or the Senate to win a majority vote, this is probably the way for it to happen,” PokerNews.com adds. “Winning a stand-alone vote on poker is unlikely, and really, it’s unnecessary. We all remember how this trouble started in the first place. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act road to passage on the coattails of the completely unrelated Safe Port Act. It’s the way of politics, and the poker industry is learning to play the game.”
However, Frank’s bill remains the favorite for most in the industry. The biggest advantage of Frank’s bill remains the fact that, flawed though it may be, it would specifically legalize online gambling on a nationwide scale, thus more likely preserving the existing ability for online gambling affiliate marketers to promote international brands. That’s a benefit that may be lost if the U.S. proceeds to approach online gambling regulation on a state-by-state basis, which may already be happening.