Frank reveals online gambling legislation

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Rep. Barney Frank unveiled his much awaited legislation to legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States today.

The Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 would establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework for Internet gambling operators who want to accept U.S. customers.

"We applaud [Financial Services Committee] Chairman Frank's strong leadership to advance a common sense approach to regulate Internet gambling and reverse the intrusive, ineffective and burdensome prohibition," said Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

This legislation is similar to what Frank introduced in 2007 in response to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which attempts to block money transfers from banks and other financial institutions to online gambling sites.

Frank has previously said he believes restricting online gambling is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans and his hope is to reverse the UIGEA.

Along with the act to overturn the UIGEA, Frank is also going one step further, introducing separate legislation today to delay the implementation of UIGEA regulations set to go into effect Dec. 1, 2009.

The legislation will stop Federal regulators from enforcing the UIGEA until Congress has a chance to decide national policy.

"Despite the current prohibition, millions of Americans wager more than $100 billion annually with offshore Internet gambling operators," Sandman said.

"Rather than tell Americans what they can and cannot do online in the privacy of their homes, Chairman Frank's approach to regulate Internet gambling would protect consumers and allow the U.S. to generate billions in new revenue to fund critical government programs."

One of the stipulations for licensing under the new legislation is that companies must maintain effective protections against underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money laundering and fraud, and enforce prohibitions or restrictions on types of gambling prohibited by states and Native American Tribes.

The companies will also be subject to review of their financial condition and corporate structure, business experience, suitability and criminal background. They will also have to agree to be subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The bill also grants the Treasury the authority to enforce the regulations. They can revoke or terminate the license of any online gambling site that fails to comply with the bill's provisions, and violators could be fined or imprisoned for up to five years, or both.

The Poker Players Alliance agreed the new legislation will do a better job of protecting U.S. consumers who choose to gamble online.

According to the PPA, the UIGEA was overly vague and wasn't actually protecting U.S. citizens as it was intended to do.

This new legislation will go much further towards keep children and problem gamblers off these sites, at the same time allowing for strong consumer protections for adult consumers who enjoy playing online poker and other online gambling activities, the PPA claims.

"Online poker is a legal, thriving industry and poker players deserve the consumer protections and the freedom to play that are provided for in this legislation," PPA Chairman and former Senator Alfonse D'Amato said.

"We are grateful for Chairman Frank's leadership and will be activating our grassroots army made up of over one million members to help him drive legislation."

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