The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Barney Frank released details of his new legislative proposal aimed at legalising online gambling in the United States Wednesday ahead of a delayed press conference re-scheduled to late afternoon Washington time.
Titled the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act the proposal seeks to overturn the controversial and much villified Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006, which outlawed financial transactions with online gambling companies and has caused billions in damages to European companies forced to withdraw from the US market.
The bill seeks to issue licenses to online gambling operators, but only those who are in good financial and legal standing and of good character, honesty and integrity, and whose prior activities, reputation, habits and associations do not pose a threat to the public interest or to the effective regulation and control of of the licensed activities.
Pre-licensing checks are likely to be stringent, and would be operators will have to demonstrate that they possess the requisite expertise to professionally manage Internet gambling operations. There will be an insistence on operators having the technology and systems necessary to effectively combat money laundering and fraud, exclude underage and problem gamblers, meet tax requirements and comply with US federal and state laws.
Applications are open to all entities, who will have to supply detailed financial records and personal details of directors in order that credit and criminal histories can be checked.
The nature and depth of background checks will be decided by the Secretary for the Treasury, who will be charged with the approval and monitoring of licensees and may call on the US Attorney General for enforcement and compliance issues.
Licensing terms will be for five years, renewable conditional on good conduct and efficiency, and the Secretary for the Treasury will have authority to terminate the licenses at any time if a licensee does not comply with requirements. Terms of imprisonment of up to five years are provided for under the Act.
Congressman Frank later told reporters that he intends to move the bill before the House's August break, but that he will be introducing special legislation titled the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act of 2009 aimed at delaying for a year the implementation of the highly controversial and much delayed regulations supporting the UIGEA, which were rushed through in the twilight months of the Bush administration and are due to finally go into effect on 1st December.
This will allow the new Democrat controlled Congress to decide a national policy.
Representative McDermott is also re-introducing a companion bill aimed at ensuring that individual and corporate taxes owed on regulated Internet gambling activities are collected.
There are already rumblings from Republican politicians like Spencer Bachus, and from national sports leagues and conservative Christian groups, which indicate that the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act is unlikely to enjoy a trouble-free passage.
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