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A Good Start for Barney Frank's Bill

May 28, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Riding high on an exclusive profile in the New York Times over the past weekend, as well as a surge of popularity in other news media and blog outlets across the gaming world, Barney Frank’s anti-UIGEA legislation, The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, is off to a promising start.

While the New York Times article is more of an informational piece that spends just as much time talking about the opposition than actually describing what the new bill would do, other news stories have been far more positive. The bill’s overall chances are seen as being very good so far, with almost two dozen sponsors already signed on — a far better start than Frank’s past attempts.

“Also signing onto the bill is Jim McDermott (D-WA), whose Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act (HR 2268) was introduced on the same day as HR 2267,” writes Tom Jenkins at Poker News Daily. “The bill, which is similar to a measure introduced last year, calls for 2% of internet gambling deposits to be taxed, raising money for the Federal Government in the process. Frank is HR 2268’s lone co-sponsor, as the two pieces of legislation are companion bills. Steve Cohen (D-TN) is also a co-sponsor of HR 2267. …

“Other co-sponsors of HR 2267 include Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Mike Capuano (D-MA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Jim McGovern (D-MA), George Miller (D-CA), Tom Perriello (D-VA), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Robert C. Scott (D-VA), and Melvin Watt (D-NC).”

The chances of the bill’s success also lie in the effectiveness of the opposition. Perhaps the best-known opponents are Christian-focused organizations and professional sports leagues. However, many members of the traditional land-based gambling industry are also opposed to online gambling legalization, fearing that the increased competition will further damage their already-suffering bottom lines. (Which makes the recent news that Harrah’s supports Frank’s bill all the more significant. Read about that here.)

Many eyes are now focused on Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Reid is a Nevada politician who, like all Nevada politicians (it is said), relies on support from casinos to retain political power. And, as Majority Leader, he also holds a lot of influence; whether he decides to support or oppose the bill will likely play a large role in whether or not it succeeds. And whether or not he supports the bill may ultimately be the decision of the land-based casinos so powerful in his home state. Let’s just hope they take Harrah’s forward-looking attitude, and embrace online gambling instead of trying to outlaw it.  

Read the New York Times article here; read the Poker News Daily article here. An interesting analysis of Harry Reid’s role in the situation can be found here.