Representative Frank Introduces Legislation
May 07, 2009
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Ever since the Obama administration took charge in January 2009 the online gaming community in the United States has been waiting for Representative Barney Frank to introduce his anti UIGEA legislation. The wait has taken a few months, but the legislation was finally introduced on the 6th of May. The bill was introduced by Barney Frank and Peter King.
The primary objective of the legislation is to create a regulatory framework for online gambling in the United States. The bill states, “Internet gambling in the United States should be controlled by a strict federal licensing and regulatory framework to protect underage and otherwise vulnerable individuals, to ensure the games are fair, to address the concerns of law enforcement, and to enforce any limitations on the activity established by the states and Indian tribes.” Thus the bill at the outset provides for the states and Native American tribes to impose stricter regulations including banning online gambling altogether.
Considerable emphasis has been placed on responsibilities of the operators to whom licenses would be issued. Licenses would be issued for a five-year period after a rigorous background check. The responsibilities of the operators would include ensuring that all players are of legal age, ensuring that problem gamblers are adequately protected, ensuring that the games offered are fair, collecting taxes from customers and paying those along with their own taxes, safeguarding against financial crimes and in general addressing any other issues the law enforcing agencies may have. The bill defines sports betting on the Internet as illegal.
The bill has received praise from several quarters. Buffalo State business law professor Joe Kelly said, “The bill was very impressive and thorough.” He was particularly impressed by the requirements needed for the operators to obtain licenses. The online gambling industry has come out in full support of the bill. Poker Players Alliance Chairman and former Senator Alfonse D’Amato has promised grassroots support for the legislation. Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative said that it was time for Congress to admit that banning online gambling has failed and that a regulatory approach is now essential.
Representative Jim McDermott introduced a companion bill to the one introduced by King and Frank. That bill requires licensed operators to pay a 2% fee to the government on all deposits. While introducing his bill McDermott said that the UIGEA had done nothing except drive the online gaming industry away from the United States. Because of this America is losing billions of dollars in federal and state taxes every year.
Earlier Frank had said that the reason for the delay in introducing the bill was that he wanted to address the concerns of the possible opponents of the bill in order to ensure quicker movement of the bill through the legislative process. The online gambling community is hoping that Frank has done his homework well.