May 6, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — The eagle has landed! After months of anticipation, U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank has introduced into the U.S. Congress new legislation that would not only reverse the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006), but would also establish a legal regulatory framework to allow online gambling in the United States.
The new bill, officially called the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act, would give the U.S. Treasury Department the authority to regulate how Internet gambling is conducted in the country. This would be accomplished through a system of licensing of gaming companies; the Treasury Department would have the authority to issue or revoke such licenses.
In an interesting side note, Representative Frank told reporters that he will also introduce a separate piece of legislation that will "freeze" the implementation of the UIGEA.
The bill is highly anticipated not just in the United States, but overseas as well. Online gambling firms based in Europe have “lost billions of euros in value” because of the UIGEA, reports Reuters news services. In addition, the ban has resulted in a tense trade situation between the U.S. and the EU, and some unfortunate (and many say unfair) prosecution of European gambling companies like PartyGaming.
The fact that the Congress and White House are now in Democratic hands is predicted to help passage of the new law. However, it’s still not a sure bet, as opposition to online gambling (and all forms of gambling) remains strong in some U.S. political quarters.
For example, Representative Spencer Bachus, also on the House Financial Services Committee, has already come out in attack of the new bill. "Illegal off-shore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise," Bachus was quoted in the Reuters article. "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."