by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Although the Payment Systems Protection Act (H.R. 5767) failed last month, this is certainly not the end of the road for internet gambling advocates. The fight for online gaming regulation continues in the form of four other Congressional bills, H.R. 2046, H.R. 2140, H.R. 2610 and H.R. 2607.
When the Payment Systems Protection Act was presented before the House Financial Services Committee, all but four Democrats and three Republicans voiced their support. Incidentally, there were six Democrats and six Republicans absent from the voting process. It is possible that these missing votes could have launched the bill forward.
The bill would have given a more clear definition to the banks asked to enforce the UIGEA of what constitutes as illegal internet gambling. Neither the proposed rules written by the U.S. Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board nor the UIGEA define which types of transactions the financial institutions are to stop. However, because of the scare tactics used by the opposing argument, including moral objections and “child safety,” H.R. 5767 is dead. Online casino gamblers are left wondering where we go from here.
H.R. 2046 or the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, proposed by Representative Barney Frank, currently has 48 cosponsors. This bill was introduced in April of 2007 and under its jurisdiction individual states would be permitted to determine what types of internet gaming they will or will not allow. It would also force online casinos or other gaming sites to be monitored and regulated under specific guidelines. H.R. 2046 was last introduced to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection on April 30th, 2007.
Representative Shelley Berkley proposed H.R. 2140 in May of 2007. The bill requests a comprehensive study of Internet gambling to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences to determine the U.S. response to online gambling. With 73 cosponsors, it was last referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in June of 2007.
H.R. 2610, proposed by Representative Robert Wexler in June of 2007, advocates for online casino games like poker, chess, bridge or mahjong that require more skill than chance. The bill would exempt certain online games from the UIGEA to the extent that “the game provides for competition only between and among participants and not against the person operating the game; the operator is in compliance with federal regulations governing games of skill.” It too remains in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and has 22 cosponsors as of June 7th, 2007.
Finally, there is H.R. 2607, proposed by Representative Jim McDermott in June of 2007 with just one cosponsor. If passed it would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to establish licensing requirements and fees for Internet gambling operators. The latest major action taken on behalf of the bill was its introduction to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Online casino players can watch progress on these bills at pokerplayersalliance.org or govtrack.us. It is hoped that these bills will be well received by Congress in the future.