Industry observers will be disappointed if a columnist in the respected Poker News publication is correct this week - he has advised that Barney Frank's latest challenge to the Unlawful INternet Gambling Enforcement Act, along with other proposals, has been delayed by "logistics" and will possibly not be introduced before the end of April as anticipated.
In a "not for attribution" discussion Friday with House Financial Services Committee staffers, the well informed Poker News columnist Denis Campbell writes that the Frank bill sits, as does all legislation, in a queue waiting for review and committee member amendments.
Campbell explains that as is often the case in Washington DC, two other issues jumped ahead of it by making headlines this week. Bankers were roundly chastised by President Obama in a face-to-face meeting for their predatory credit-card pricing increase practices. Headlines showed banks receiving TARP bailout funds were punitively (and without notice) doubling or more than doubling the rate charged to consumers. That prompted lawmakers to immediately jump on the publicity-fueled bandwagon to pass legislation to change the start date of new Federal Reserve rules regarding credit cards scheduled to take effect in 2010.
There is a bill coming through on Monday that will have even more draconian regulation of banks and bankers, and the toxic mortgage bailout bill was already in committee ahead of this bill and nearing its final mark-up. The congestion is acute and there is just one grossly overworked legislative legal counsel currently handling the drafting of all three bills.
Speaking on background, committee staff told Campbell that the credit-card and mortgage bills are taking natural precedence. They expect action this coming week and hope to be in a position to reintroduce the online gaming bill in the coming fortnight.
Campbell was told that there had not been too many changes to the last Frank bill attempting to regulate, licence and tax online gambling and that it was therefore expected that there would not be much opposition in the bill to states “going their own way” on the issue.
"So online gaming will be subject to both federal and state taxation and we can rest assured that it will also have a strong regulatory structure. That is a trend garnering momentum, as seen with the Netherlands, who made recent headlines on their plans to regulate online gaming," Campbell writes, but he warns that opposition to the bill from the usual suspects like the NFL and fundamentalist Christian groups can be expected.
"The NFL is against all gambling on games in which they don’t get a slice of the action, under the pretense of shielding their young, impressionable players, while the Christian far right holds that gambling is a sin and leads one down the path to destruction," he writes.
"One thing for certain: It will not likely be fast-tracked enough to make it through the bill-signing and regulatory process in time for the World Series Of Poker, but it would be a nice Christmas present for gamers everywhere, to have those American fish back in the online pond in a formally regulated way."
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