Frank talks online gambling in Review Journal

Barney Frank
Rep. Barney Frank

While Rep. Barney Frank's bill to overturn an Internet gambling ban seems to have stalled in Congress, he told the Las Vegas Review Journal this week that pressure from foreign countries could help breathe new life into the legislation.

Frank introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act into the House of Representatives earlier this year. It was last brought up in June when Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, conducted a hearing.

No further action is planned on the bill this year, but Frank told the Review Journal the bill isn't dead, but it's not very active.

"It depends on whether or not there's support," Frank said in the article. "I don't think there's support for it yet. It's growing."

Initially he said it would be up to gamblers to push the effort to get the bill passed, but he also said international pressures could also move the bill along faster.

"If the EU (European Union) gets into the WTO (World Trade Organization) thing, that's a lot more pressure," he said.

The WTO has ruled on more than one occasion that the online gambling ban in the United States violates international trade agreements the nation agreed to when it joined the organization.

The U.S. has two choices to comply with the current agreements. It can either legalize the industry or it can outlaw all forms of online gambling. Currently it allows online horse race betting and online state lotteries.

Instead, the nation is choosing to face the penalties and change its agreements with the WTO to exclude online gambling.

However, Frank's bill would go a long way to bringing the nation in line with the current trade rules. His proposal is to legalize the industry so it can be properly licensed, regulated and taxed.

So far his bill has 36 cosponsors behind it. One of those sponsors is Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who has legislation of her own dealing with online gambling that she's introduced in the House.

Her bill calls for a one-year study of the Internet gambling industry by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Her bill hasn't been scheduled for a hearing, and she told the Las Vegas Review Journal that she doesn't expect one by the end of this year. However, she expects more action on Internet gambling issues in 2008.

Two other online gambling bills have been introduced in Congress as well. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) proposed a bill that would exempt poker and other skill games from a gambling ban. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) also proposed a tax on gambling companies if they are regulated and licensed in the nation.

Studies have shown that the United States could potentially bring in billions of dollars in tax money from the online gambling industry if it were made legal there. Some stakeholders have also argued that the industry would be safer if it were properly regulated rather than banned and forced underground.

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