Barney Frank Returns with New Bill
One of the most prominent and influential advocates for online poker is the Chairman of the House Financial Committee, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. He spoke out against the UIGEA and has since been trying to introduce legislation to amend it to exempt games of skill, which poker has been proven to be.
In May of 2009, he introduced his latest bill, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. In this case, the bill is not trying to repeal the UIGEA specifically, but to clear the path for licensed and regulated operators to offer online poker to Americans. The bill sets the framework for how poker site operators can apply for and obtain a license to legally provide online poker to U.S. citizens. Specifically, it lists a few conditions that companies must conform to in order to be considered for licensure. It is required that the sites:
- Are in good financial and legal standing, and of good character, honesty, and integrity.
- Utilize appropriate technology to determine the age and location of users.
- Adopt and implement systems to protect minors and problem gamblers.
- Adopt and implement systems to enforce any applicable Federal, State, and Indian tribe limitations on Internet gambling.
- Have in place risk-based methods to identify and combat money laundering and fraud related to Internet gambling, and to protect the privacy and security of users.
Additionally, the bill would require that operators withhold taxes at cash-out. This remains one of the points in the bill that are somewhat unclear. Of course players will have winning and losing sessions and it would not be fair to tax players on all winnings while not being able to net losses somehow. Details such as this will need to be worked out before the final version of the bill would be voted on.
There was hope that the bill would begin to face hearings quickly and the thought of legalized Internet poker by the end of the year was not out of the question. However, with the financial situation in the U.S. still being troubled, to say the least, this bill has been put on the back burner. It is not expected to actually face a hearing before September of this year. That makes it quite likely that the United States will go into 2010 without regulated online poker.
At the same time that he introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation Act, Frank also introduced a companion bill that is likely to face a vote before the end of the year. This companion bill would delay the implementation of the UIGEA for 12 months. Full implementation is supposed to be enforced beginning December 1st of this year. The implementation bill was signed into law by President Bush in the final days before President Obama took over.
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