Legalized Online Gambling in the US – So Near Yet So Far
The entire online gambling world, especially in USA, was waiting with great anticipation for the news regarding the debate on HR 2267 (anti-UIGEA bill). The news that legalized online gambling would soon be a reality was welcomed heartily by one and all. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) had banned internet gambling, leaving thousands of online enthusiasts highly disappointed. Many of these people started gambling through foreign online casinos and sending millions of dollars abroad but the government soon became wiser and imposed restrictions on money transactions abroad for gambling purposes.
However, there was intense pressure to overturn the UIGEA bill and Representative Barney Frank sponsored HR 2267 that seeks the legalization and regulation of online gambling in the United States. In July 2010, The House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Barney Frank, scheduled the bill for a full house debate. Gambling enthusiasts were delighted at the prospect of being able to gamble legally in the near future. Moreover, the online casino and poker fraternity was also satisfied with this news, although there were many amendments to the bill in the areas of incorporation of social responsibility and sports betting.
HR2267 Debate Postponed
However, HR 2267 seems to have run into rough weather because there does not seem to be any chance that this bill can be moved for a debate this month due to a cramped schedule in the House. Barney Frank, in his interview with The Hill, a publication that reports on various impending legislations on Capitol Hill, revealed that the Democrat House leadership is not in favor of having discussions on this bill on the floor of the House before the midterm elections in November.
Exploring Other Options
Not to be daunted by this reversal, Frank has indicated that he is looking into other viable options like lobbying senators for moving and discussing a similar bill that was introduced by Robert Menendez, the senator from New Jersey. Since the bill could not garner any co-sponsors till now, Frank has been working hard to move it as soon as possible. However, as per independent reports from a Senate Democratic aide, there are many higher priority issues before the House, making it difficult for HR2267 to be included for discussions before the elections.
There is, however, a silver lining to this dark cloud. Since legalizing online gambling can generate much-needed tax revenues, there is a glimmer of hope that HR2267 might be able to move in the lame duck session where only high priority matters are taken up. It will have to be attached to a jobs bill for this step.
There is another option that Barney Frank had tried for pushing HR2267. He indicated that Democrat Representative Jim McDermott from Washington had sponsored a bill that seeks to install the necessary infrastructure for taxing legalized internet gambling. This bill is at present in the House Ways and Means Committee. Frank took the initiative for this bill to be marked up so that HR2267 and McDermott’s bill could move forward together and be scheduled for a full House hearing. According to information from McDermott’s office, time constraints have made it almost impossible for his tax bill to be marked up by the Ways and Means Committee before the November elections.
According to all indications, it seems that online gambling enthusiasts have to wait for some more time for internet gambling to be legalized.