May 5, 2009

Congressman To Unveil Online Gambling Bill

U.S. Representative Barney Frank said in a statement on Tuesday that he will unveil legislation on Wednesday to roll back a U.S. ban on online gambling.

Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said the new bill would exempt operators that are licensed and regulated from the ban enacted in 2006.

Frank said the bill will "enable Americans to bet online and put an end to an inappropriate interference with their personal freedom."

"The new bill would create an exemption to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) for operators that are licensed and regulated," the statement said.

The new bill would likely be opposed by antigambling Republicans.  The ban was imposed during the Bush administration and has damaged U.S.-European Union
trade ties.

The UIGEA bans U.S. banks, credit card and financial companies from handling Internet gambling bets and has been the target of fierce criticism.

The U.S. ban on Internet gambling has been challenged as an unfair trade restriction at the World Trade Organization.

Also, the European Commission has launched an investigation into whether the U.S. gambling ban discriminated against EU firms.  European online gambling firms lost billions of euros after Congress made it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. 

The majority of the White House and Congress was controlled by Republicans when the law was approved.  Now the Democrats have the power in both branches of government, but it is unclear how the Obama administration will handle the issue.