Online gambling legislation debated in House

21 July 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Today, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing to discuss the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267). The legislation, introduced by Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), would regulate Internet gambling activity in the U.S. and require licensed operators to put in place safeguards to protect against underage and problem gambling.

"With the recent passage of financial reform legislation, it's great to see the Financial Services Committee now with the opportunity to focus its attention on other issues such as Internet gambling regulation", said Michael Waxman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. "Today's hearing demonstrates that regulating Internet gambling remains a top priority for Chairman Frank. We're optimistic that this hearing will give the Committee the final push it needs to schedule a vote on the bill."

Committee members heard testimony from representatives of the financial services, tribal and poker communities who spoke in support of regulating Internet gambling.

Ed Williams, member of the Board of Directors of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) spoke of the challenges faced by financial services companies who are forced to comply with burdensome rules in an attempt to prevent unlawful Internet gambling transactions. Williams testified that H.R. 2267 would promote "…regulatory simplicity while assisting financial institutions compliance with UIGEA."

Lynn Malerba, Tribal Chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribe discussed the role tribes engaged in the gaming industry play in Internet gaming and praised Chairman Frank for the great respect he has shown "…for tribal sovereignty by actively seeking the input of tribes" to ensure their fair treatment under the legislation.

Professional poker player Annie Duke testified about the consumer safeguards and revenue potential under H.R. 2267. Duke maintained that American poker players "…want to play on sites licensed in the United States, which will provide for even greater consumer protections for the player and yield badly-needed tax revenue for state and federal governments."

With Committee members reengaged on the issue, today's hearing sets the stage for a vote on Chairman Frank's legislation.

"Lawmakers who have not yet taken a position on this issue should realize that their constituents are likely among the millions of Americans who wager online despite attempts to prohibit the activity," said Waxman. "Members would best serve their constituents by accurately representing their interests and supporting Chairman Frank's bill."

Internet gambling regulation has been the subject of several previous congressional hearings. Most recently, in May 2010, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to discuss the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010 (H.R. 4976), a companion piece of legislation to the Frank bill introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) that would ensure the collection of license fees and taxes on regulated Internet gambling activities. According to a tax revenue analysis conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation, regulated Internet gambling is expected to generate nearly $42 billion in revenue for the federal government over its first 10 years. Estimates suggest that it would also generate as much as $30 billion in new revenues to the states.

In addition to permitting licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from individuals in the U.S. and mandating consumer protections, Chairman Frank's legislation reinforces the rights of each state to determine whether or not to allow Internet gambling activity for people accessing the Internet within the state and to apply other restrictions on the activity as determined necessary. Since its introduction in May 2009, a bi-partisan group of 69 co-sponsors has signed onto the legislation. A recent analysis by H2 Gambling capital predicts that Internet gambling regulation would create up to 32,000 jobs over its first five years.

For additional information on today's hearing and complete witness testimonies, please visit the House Committee on Financial Services Web site.