Is the reaction to UIGEA reaching a tipping point?

by Lou on April 23, 2007

“I think a lot of members of Congress voted for that (ban) without having given it a lot of attention,” Congressman Barney Frank (pictured right) said last week, adding, “And I think that there is growing opposition to it.”
Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, plans to introduce legislation “probably next week, maybe the week after” against the Internet gambling ban. “I think,” Frank said, “that this may be a case where, after the fact of having voted for it, people don’t like it and they reconsider.”
Several meetings were held this past week in Washington DC by opponents of the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) to decide how to challenge it.

A meeting last Thursday involved the House Financial Services Committee and online gambling lobbyists, while another meeting that same day involved discussions by major online gaming sites about how best to encourage player and gaming industry support for Congressman Barney Frank’s efforts to repeal UIGEA.

Frank said he plans to introduce legislation to repeal UIGEA next week or the week after. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) last week, Frank said that resistance to UIGEA is continuing to grow. On April 13 I reported in an earlier blog post that Frank said, “I think a reconsideration among my colleagues is beginning. I want to get it undone. I plan to file legislation.”
Frank also stated that he would not move forward with the bill until other lawmakers are on board. “The first thing is to plant the banner out there and see how many people rally around it.”

The recent spate of meetings in Washington DC certainly seems to constitute a rally around the anti-UIGEA flag, just as Frank hoped.
While Frank’s efforts are designed to rescue online gaming, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) plan to introduce legislation that calls for a year-long study of Internet gambling by the National Academy of Sciences. This approach is supported by the American Gaming Association, which represents the major brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States.

Frank indicated he might support the Berkley-Porter bill, but added, “I want to go beyond the study.”

The Poker Players Alliance, chaired by former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), intends to seek legislation to exempt online poker from UIGEA.

“In a number of areas, I am a libertarian,” Frank told the LVRJ. “I think that John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ is a great statement, and I was just rereading it. I believe that people should be allowed to read and gamble and ride motorcycles and do a lot of things that other people might not want to let them do.”

The goals of Frank, and those of the American Gaming Association and the Poker Player’s Alliance are not identical. The PPA represents online poker. Frank is working on behalf of his libertarian vision of individual rights. The AGA supports a study that will underpin efforts to legalize online poker in the Untied States. This legislation would pave the way for major, well-known Nevada casinos to get into the online gaming business in a big way — either with or without the current group of online casinos now operating offshore due to current US law.

While all parties have an interest in overturning UIGEA and creating a regulated climate for online gaming in the United States, their paths begin to diverge once that particular Rubicon has been crossed. Then it becomes a land rush of sorts, with all the major entities trying to stake out their position as the leading luminary in a more translucent, braver, and brighter online world than you might imagine given the current state of affairs right now.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: