Internet Gambling Bill Markup Hearing Scheduled for July 27th

 

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On Tuesday, July 27th, the House Financial Services Committee will mark up HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill, which was introduced back in May 2009, boasts a total of 69 co-sponsors – both Democrats and Republicans – and would allow licensed internet gambling companies to solicit business from U.S. consumers.

Markup is one of the final steps of a bill becoming law and involves the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by HR 2267’s primary sponsor Barney Frank (D-MA), approving the measure and any amendments proposed by its members. One such amendment is due from John Campbell (R-CA), who stressed the importance of utilizing technology to the fullest extent possible and incorporating a loss limit into Frank’s bill. Whether the rest of the House Financial Services Committee will agree is anyone’s guess.

During Wednesday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing on HR 2267, Frank produced letters written by the Financial Services Roundtable, United States Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, all of which wholeheartedly endorsed the bill. He also pointed out, “The opposition to this bill consists of people who think [gambling] is terrible and people who think it’s so wonderful that they don’t want anyone to compete with them in it.”

Seven bills will be marked up on Tuesday and the proceedings will get underway at 10:00am ET: HR 5814 (Public Housing Reinvestment and Tenant Protection Act), HR 4868 (Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act), HR 3421 (Medical Debt Relief Act), HR 4790 (Shareholder Protection Act), HR 5823 (United States Covered Bond Act), and HR 476 (Veterans, Women, Families with Children, and Persons with Disabilities Housing Fairness Act). Frank will determine the order that the seven pieces of legislation are addressed.

In September 2008, the House Financial Services Committee approved HR 6870, the second incarnation of the Payments System Protection Act, by a 30-19 margin. The bill would have assisted banks and other financial institutions in deciding what is permitted under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). However, it was not acted upon by the close of business on Capitol Hill in 2008 and consequently fell by the wayside.

In Wednesday’s hearing, UB.com pro Annie Duke, who took to the witness panel on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), tried to calm members’ concerns about the “Wild West” of the internet gambling world: “[Online poker sites] are looking at the distribution of the win-loss rates and checking the random number generator. These sites are in some ways more secure than brick-and-mortar.”

Duke also made it a point to remind the Committee on multiple occasions that the UIGEA was merely a “banking law” that did little to protect consumers from rogue internet gambling operations: “One of the big issues I have with the UIGEA is that it doesn’t protect minors or consumers. It’s strictly a banking regulation. I would like to see more regulations to use majority verification software. Most of the reputable operators do this and they’re licensed by friends of this nation like the U.K.”

Following the conclusion of Wednesday’s informational hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, PPA Executive Director John Pappas looked forward to HR 2267’s continued progress: “As interest in and awareness of licensing and regulating online poker grows among members of Congress and the Administration – and with it the consumer protection and tax revenue benefits that accompany licensing and regulation – the PPA is ready and eager to work with policymakers to continue moving this legislation through the process.”

Stay tuned to MacPoker.com for the latest legislative updates.

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