Time is of the essence: HR2267 (update)

Bid to legalise and regulate US internet gambling is running out of time

Internet gambling's US champion, Congressman Barney Frank, has dampened hopes of an early debate on his HR2267 proposal to legalise online gambling in the Unites States, telling the Washington DC publication The Hill that he thinks it unlikely that the bipartisan measure will reach the House floor before the midterm election distractions in November.

Frank is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which in July this year approved the bill for further debate after it had been subjected to several amendments (see previous InfoPowa report).

Congressman Frank told The Hill that he wanted to see a floor vote on the legislation but that a 'cramped' House work schedule indicated it would be tough to move his bill this (September) month.

“I’m not optimistic,” Frank said, adding that he does not have a commitment from the Democrat House leadership that they would move the bill before the traditional lame-duck session.

Frank said that he has lobbied senators on the possibility of moving his bill to the Senate to step up the pace. A companion measure has been introduced there by the Senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, but it has so far not attracted any co-sponsors (Frank's bill has bi-partisan support from 70 Representatives in the lower House.)

Confirming Frank's opinion, a Senate Democratic aide indicated to The Hill that it is highly unlikely HR2267 will move before the election. The staffer added there is a small chance it might move in the lame-duck session as an attachment to a jobs bill. He pointed out that whilst the bill faces many obstacles, it does have a key desirable component - it raises much-needed tax revenues.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee who has been working with Frank, has introduced a bill that would set up the necessary infrastructure to tax legalised Internet gambling. McDermott’s bill would raise $72 billion over 10 years from new taxes on the industry. The bill is currently stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee.

In his interview with The Hill, Frank said he would like the House Ways and Means Committee to mark up McDermott’s bill so it could be paired with his.

“My ideal would be that Ways and Means would do that and they would come out together,” Frank said.

McDermott’s office, however, told The Hill that the tax bill is not likely to be marked up by Ways and Means before the November elections because of time constraints.

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