September 16, 2008 — The U.S. House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee has passed Barney Frank's H.R. 6870 bill, PokerListings.com has reported today.
The bill is a direct challenge to UIGEA, and seeks to ensure that "implementation of the proposed Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act regulations doesn't cause harm to the banking and financial industry," wrote Sarah Polson on PokerListings.com earlier today.
While the bill won't exactly eliminate the UIGEA, it's a worthy effort to slow it down and reduce its scope and effect. And while its slowed down, Frank and his allies plan to create an alternative that seeks to actually regulate online gambling instead of criminalizing it.
"HR6870 will try to pick up where the original 'Payment Systems Protection Act' left off, a similar Frank bill which failed due to a deadlocked vote in committee," states PokerRoad.com.
This new bill has already had much more success than the previous bill. Rep. Frank (Democrat, Massachusetts) seems dedicated to this cause and is definitely sticking with this issue, not having let the defeat of the previous bill earlier this summer dissuade his efforts.
"That bill was defeated in committee by a tie vote," writes Polson in the PokerListings article, "and now Frank has reintroduced it with a more targeted approach. Rather than stopping the implementation of the UIGEA, he is using the Payments System Protection Act to try to define illegal online gambling and narrow the focus of the UIGEA.
"One section of the bill limits the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to applying the UIGEA regulations only to online wagering that is already specifically prohibited — namely betting on sporting events.
"Another section asks that the two agencies consult the attorney general to develop and implement UIGEA regulations that clearly define 'unlawful Internet gambling' and only do so after conducting a full economic impact study of the proposed regulations."
Still, the bill has a long way to go. It must pass through the entire House of Representatives, and then through the Senate, ultimately landing on the president's desk (if it makes it that far). And, unfortunately, most bills suffer serious revision during this process.
It was encouraging, however, to see the level of support received by the bill during the day. According to Online Casino Advisory:
"Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, asserted that the bill was wholly a representation of what he thought was in the best interests of the financial community as well as the average citizen.
"William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from Missouri, said Congress should avoid passing laws like the UIGEA which are largely unenforceable. Noting that Spencer Bachus claimed sports leagues were still united against the new bill, even though it still banned sports online wagering, Clay pointed to the hypocrisy involved, as sports gambling is readily available at Vegas sportsbooks.
"Clay stated he didn't see a reason something legal on land should be illegal on the Internet.
"Barney Frank contradicted accusers who said the bill meant government encouragement to gamble online. He pointed out that there should be more than just two areas of behavior: those illegal, and those encouraged by government.
"He noted the right of free people to choose their own course, rather than have government dictate it."