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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Barney Frank introduces bill to repeal UIGEA

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Barney Frank has been well known as many things throughout his tenure as a Massachusetts Congressman, but now he's coming to be known as the best friend online poker has in the US Congress. Today Frank, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007, a measure designed to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act, passed by Congress in late 2006.

"The existing legislation is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans and this interference should be undone," said. Rep. Frank. This new law would establish a framework by which online gambling companies could become federally licensed to operate in the US, freeing US citizens to place bets online legally. All licenses would include protections against underage gambling, money laundering and fraud. Frank sees the licensing of online gambling in the US as a means to raise many millions of dollars in licensing fees, which could pay for other government programs.

"I think a lot of members of Congress voted for that (ban) without having given it a lot of attention," Frank said last week. "And I think that there is growing opposition to it," he said. "I think that this may be a case where, after the fact of having voted for it, people don't like it and they reconsider."

The UIGEA passed 409-2 after being attached to the Safe Port Act in the late evening hours of the last night before legislators were to go home for recess. Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee championed the bill as his own personal agenda as former Senate Majority Leader. Frank has famously called the Internet gambling ban as one of the "stupidest" bills ever passed.

Frank understands that it may be difficult to overturn the bill in a tightly-contested Congress, "But I know (lawmakers) are hearing from people who don't like it now. So I'd say the situation is very fluid," Frank said.

"In a number of areas, I am a libertarian," Frank said. "I believe that people should be allowed to read and gamble and ride motorcycles and do a lot of things that other people might not want to let them do."

In addition to Frank's work to overthrow the ban, Democrat Shelley Berkley and Republican Jon Porter, both of Nevada, also are planning to propose legislation soon that would call for a one-year study of Internet gambling by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Poker Players Alliance, represented by former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., also may seek legislation that would exempt online poker from the ban.

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