January 26, 2010 (CAP Newswire) — Just when it looked like the political situation in the U.S. was shaping up for a pro-online gambling year in 2010, the recent Senate race upset that saw a conservative Republican take liberal Democratic icon Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat may help to change all that.
Although, even with that Senate win, the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate, the balance is now closer, and the party is less likely to try to push through more controversial legislation — particularly since Kennedy was one of the Democrats’ key members, bearing a huge level of influence that is now gone.
And since online gambling is still considered a highly controversial topic in the United States, it may well be considered too hot to touch by the Democratic leadership, often regarded as timid by political observers.
“Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the Speaker of the House, the most powerful person in the House of Representatives. As such, she has substantial influence over her Democratic colleagues in the House. In order to remain Speaker of the House, Pelosi needs to make sure that the Democrats maintain their majority. She will discourage her colleagues from taking stances that could endanger the majority and her position,” writes Matthew Kredell at PokerNews.com.
“This is why, if Frank’s bill can get through his Financial Services Committee and go in front of the full House this year, the legislation is likely to stall at that point and not go up for a House vote.” Read Kredell’s article here.
Moreover, the Republicans are showing that they’re not likely to relent in fighting online gambling legalization. Two weeks ago, Republican Senator John Kyl, one of the most local opponents of online gambling in the U.S., protested the delay of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) by stalling approval of Department of Treasury officials.
“Senator Kyl’s hold is preventing six appointed officials from getting to work,” writes Maria Del Mar at Poker News Daily. “All of these posts are clearly of great importance to the Obama government and, even for the most hardcore poker fans, it should be clear that they ought to have a much higher priority than the UIGEA’s implementation or repeal.” Read that article here.
Economics expert Pat Garofalo, writing at The Wonk Room, also criticized Kyl’s actions, writing: “Now, I don’t have much of a position on these internet gambling regulations, but suffice to say, a six month delay in implementing them doesn’t seem like the end of the world … Kyl’s action really does highlight how far conservatives have gone to prevent Obama’s appointed officials from doing their jobs.” Read Garofalo’s original post here.
These signs are ominous. Despite a new hope being born with the delay of the UIGEA, it’s clear that the prospects for regulating online gambling and Internet poker in 2010 remain extremely uncertain, despite Barney Frank’s continued struggles in that area.
Still, the Poker Players Alliance is pressing on. The online poker advocacy group is reportedly pushing hard for progress on Barney Frank’s HR 2267 (The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act), angling for a formal “markup” of the bill in February. (A “markup” is when a bill is submitted for debate; in that process, it’s often amended, or “marked up”.)
Now at almost 70 sponsors, support for Frank’s bill is still growing even as the Congress at large continues to drag its feet on the topic. “According to [PPA Director John] Pappas, Frank expressed his desire to hold a markup hearing next month, which could lead to discussion of HR 2267 on the floor of the House of Representatives later this year. From there, Frank and the PPA could elect to attach the measure to another piece of legislation, similar to how the UIGEA became a part of an unrelated port security bill in 2006,” writes Dan Cypra at Poker News Daily. Read that article here.
Stay tuned to the CAP News page for more info on what develops. In the meantime, to get up to speed on the topic, check out this great one-page UIGEA history/recap at The Heartland Institute.