House Financial Services Committee chairman, Rep. Barney Frank has told reporters in Washington that the time has come to regulate Internet gambling rather than outlaw the pastime.
He finally introduced a bill on Wednesday this week that will certainly please the many blackjack and poker players in addition to those that enjoy a game of roulette, keno or craps and all games of chance that can be played interactively on the many online casino websites.
Opposition is naturally high in profile as many conservative groups are still adamant that all forms of gambling still exploit the vulnerable and in particular the poor. This same opposition is responsible for the last year ban which has cost the US treasury potentially billions of dollars in lost revenue from the taxation and regulation that a properly crafted bill would have provided.
The bill being introduced by Frank will require all Internet gambling operators and providers to be legally licensed by the US Treasury Dept and carefully regulated to ensure minors and other vulnerable groups are protected as well as ensuring all games offered are fair and properly tested and audited. As a part of the regulatory application process for gambling companies to adhere to, the department will review financial statements as well as criminal and also credit histories.
Nevada Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkely, whose district also includes Las Vegas, has voiced her support for Barney Frank’s bill. Berkely had sponsored legislation previously that required a study of the effects and processes pertaining to online gambling. However, the Senate’s majority leader, Rep. Harry Reid, also of Nevada has voiced his opposition to all forms of Internet gambling, which is a blow for the smooth passage of Frank’s legislation.
Senator Alfonse D’Amato, who chairs the highly respected Poker Players Alliance and is a former NY Republican, has stated that the Alliance will spend as much as $3 million to lobby in the current session of Congress in an attempt to overturn the present Internet gambling ban.
Others in opposition to Frank’s proposed bill include the high profile National Football League. It says that gambling poses a threat to its games’ integrity and has made a priority of preserving the online gambling ban.
Frank’s bill does however contain provisions that attempts to address any such concerns by maintaining the general prohibition on any sports gambling. Around half of the Internet gambling industry, worth around $16 billion and largely hosted on websites registered to operators licensed overseas, is fuelled by gamblers in the United States.