Farewell to Barney Frank; missing my chance to vote for Internet gambling's champion

1 December 2011
I was a big fan of Barney Frank, even before I lived in Massachusetts. The 16-term Congressman from Newton, Mass., is a fiery liberal who takes no prisoners. He points out hypocrisy wherever he sees it, and will even go after a sitting president in his own party if he disagrees with the policies of the administration.
When I started writing about the gambling industry I learned a lot more about Frank. He was a staunch opponent of all efforts to "ban" Internet gambling. He did the impossible, making Congressional hearings on the topic entertaining, while also making a lot of commonsense points and making those who opposed his view look silly.
"I am struck by frankly what seems to be a inconsistency on the part of some of my conservative colleagues who bemoan the nanny state, who talk about limited government, who urge the government to stay out of people's lives, who also argue that the Internet ought to be a free of restrictions, but who then single out the Internet for restrictions on personal choices to be made by individuals," Frank said at one hearing.
And after a series of sex scandals rocked the GOP in 2009, Frank had this zinger for online gambling opponents.
"This is another case of my Congressional colleagues, who are as you well know for the exemplary moral lives they all live instructing the rest country how to come up to the high ideals we meet so regularly."
After the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush, he immediately started to work on a bill that would regulate and license Internet gambling operators, because he felt that Americans should be able to spend their money in whatever manner they chose. And since our offices are in his district, he even responded to our CEO with a personal letter (displayed in our offices) outlining his reasoning for regulating the industry.
While our offices have always been inside the borders of Frank's district, Rep. Stephen Lynch has been my representative over the past five years. His support for online gambling was tepid at best; he voted in favor of legislation similar to the UIGEA sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in the summer of 2006, and then failed to vote at all when Frank, then Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, held a committee vote on his bill that would regulate the industry in the summer of 2010.
So needless to say, I was overjoyed when I learned that as a result of redistricting, Frank would be representing my town. Then, a few days later, he announced that he would not seek reelection.
I realize that for the vast majority of the voters in my district, Internet gambling regulation isn't a make-or-break issue. And, with the exception of those of us who rely on the industry for our livelihood, it probably shouldn't be. But I hope that the candidates who get on the ballot to take Frank's place next November have the same stance he does when it comes to online gambling and that I'll finally be able to cast a vote for someone who clearly supports the industry in which I work.
The reality is, however, that whoever takes his place will be a junior member of the House and won't have the power or sway Frank does. Thankfully, Frank isn't the only champion of the Internet gambling fight. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and John Campbell (R-Calif.) have taken the baton since the Republicans won the majority in the House last year, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is a born-again supporter in the Senate. But we are losing a fighter who has always seen the light. And when I'm watching a yawn-inducing live stream of the first hearing on Internet gambling held in 2013, I'm really going to miss him.

Aaron Todd

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Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.