Frank questions value of gambling study

Barney Frank
Rep. Barney Frank

While Rep. Barney Frank continues to work with Rep. Shelley Berkley to legalize online gambling in the United States, he has questioned the usefulness of the study she proposed in Congress, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

"Studies don't do much," Frank is quoted as saying in the Journal. "What's to study? Whether or not I should be able to make my own bet with my own money?"

Frank's comments were made during a brief interview after he addressed members of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce at the Library of Congress. The chamber met with federal officials in a series of briefings this week.

Berkley and Jon Porter, both Nevada representatives, introduced the bill in June which calls for a one-year study of the Internet gambling industry by the National Academy of Sciences in order to identify the proper response of the United States to the growth of Internet gambling.

The bill has 64 cosponsors, in comparison to Frank's bill which has garnered 38 cosponsors so far. Despite his own thoughts on a study, Frank is one of those cosponsors.

Berkley is also a cosponsor for his Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, while Porter so far has not signed on as a cosponsor.

Frank's bill seeks to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act that was passed into law in 2006, by enacting his bill which will legalize and create a regulation and licensing process for online gambling companies wanting to do business in the United States.

Frank's bill would help bring the United States back in line with its World Trade Organization obligations as well. Currently the nation is in violation of them; the WTO has ruled more than once that the United States is contravening trade agreements with its ban on online gambling.

Instead of changing federal law to come into compliance, however, the United States is choosing to face the penalties for breaking the agreement and is working to alter its WTO agreements to exclude online gambling.

Those penalties may add up to big money being taken from the United States. Antigua and Barbuda, which initiated the case with the WTO, is asking for $3.4 billion in compensation for the loss of the U.S. online gambling market.

The tiny island nation was a major hub for several online gambling companies with customers in the United States. The $3.4 billion is only its first claim against the U.S. for violating trade agreements. It can also seek compensation if the U.S. changes its WTO agreements.

To get that compensation, Antigua and Barbuda has submitted for the WTO's approval a plan to ignore U.S. copyrights, which would allow them to duplicate software, movies, music and more from U.S. companies.

Even if Antigua and Barbuda is granted the billions of dollars in compensation, Frank says in the Las Vegas Journal that it wouldn't have a significant impact on the U.S. Internet gambling ban.

"The European Union threatens us with much bigger negative consequences," Frank says in the article. Some industry experts are encouraging the EU to claim $100 billion or more for compensation.

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