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Barney Frank Reintroducing Internet Gambling Legislation

Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) revealed in an article with the Financial Times this week that he plans to reintroduce legislation that is favorable to internet gambling “in the next few weeks”. Frank introduced HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act during the previous session of Congress, the bill established a full licensing and regulatory framework for the industry in the United States.

The timeline of a few weeks was confirmed by Steven Adamske, Press Secretary for Congressman Frank though he would not divulge specifics of the bill. In his statement to the Financial Times the lawmaker from Massachusetts and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said, “I expect an Obama DoJ to be less zealous about locking people up. These outrageous arrests in transit – they should be stopping that stuff.” He is alluding to the arrests of BetOnSports executive, David Carruthers and others which immediately followed the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in late 2006.

The Financial Times added that “public opinion was demanding the right to gamble online” which served as the catalyst behind Frank’s decision to reintroduce legislation. The proposed bill may be similar to HR 2046 which offered licensing opportunities for companies to solicit US customers. Since it was not acted on during the 2008 Congressional session, it must now be reintroduced for consideration.

A study conducted by PricewaterHouse Coopers estimated that up to $40 billion could be generated from the internet gambling industry over a 10 year period. The UIGEA regulations were officially enacted on January 19, 2009, one day prior to the swearing in of President Barack Obama. The passage of the UIGEA caused the largest online poker rooms such as Party Poker, Pacific Poker and Mansion to leave the US market. Many payment processors also left, including Neteller and Citadel Commerce though many players had money tied up in the companies. Despite the UIGEA’s vagueness, its effects have been long lasting in the United States. The effect that its regulations will have on the industry is still unknown.

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