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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

UIGEA Repeal on List of 2009 Priorities for Barney Frank

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Representative Barney Frank, a long-time Democratic member of Congress from Massachusetts, does not back down when he believes in something. And as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, he has earned the position and the authority to use his rank to fight his battles. As the new Obama administration took office and the committee prepared to hold its first session of the year, Frank spoke about his 2009 agenda, and one of his priorities appears to be the repeal of the UIGEA and the regulation of online poker.

When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed through Congress in 2006 and subsequently signed into law by now-former President Bush, Frank saw it for the invasive, unrealistic piece of legislation that it was and began the fight against its implementation. He drafted H.R. 2046 in early 2007 to call for the legislation and regulation of online gambling, but it was in 2008 that he stepped up his efforts to show that the UIGEA was not only an extreme burden on the banking institutions that would have to enforce the law, but that the law in and of itself was unenforceable. Despite the hearings and the statements on the issue, however, the Bush administration ignored them and went ahead with pushing the regulations through in the last months of Bush’s term, rendering them effective January 19, 2009 and informing banks of their mandatory compliance by December of 2009.

Frank remains more determined than ever to repeal the UIGEA, regardless of the Bush administration’s actions, and take it one step further by pushing for the legalization and regulation of online gambling. In a February 4 interview with the Financial Times, he said that he would be reintroducing a bill, presumably H.R. 2046, to push that goal forward.

In reference to the Department of Justice under Bush, he made mention of its extreme attempts to pursue and prosecute people who were involved in online gaming operations by catching them in transit in and out of the United States, noting that this may cease. “I expect an Obama DoJ to be less zealous about locking people up,” he told the Financial Times. “These outrageous arrests in transit - they should be stopping that stuff.”

Congressman Frank noted that public sentiment is on his side, demanding the right to gamble online in an environment that has become a multi-billion dollar industry. On a predominantly worldwide basis, people and governments have accepted the notion that online gaming is a legitimate business, not to mention a revenue producer for governments that embrace it, and he feels that the new attitude toward the subject will enable it to move his bill through Congress with greater ease than before.

To find out how to contact your member of Congress to stress the need for such pro-gaming legislation and the repeal of the UIGEA, visit the Poker Players Alliance or the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative for easy e-mail access to your representatives.

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