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Frank's Online Gambling Bill Passes House Finance Committee

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Representative Barney Frank has taken another step on Wednesday in his quest to regulate online gambling in the US. Rep. Frank has proposed bill H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, and on Wednesday the bill passed the House Finance Committee.

The Committee spent the late morning and early afternoon discussing the bill during the markup phase. The online gambling issue at times has been contentious, with Rep. Frank and Rep. Spencer Bacchus constantly battling on different sides of the issue. The debate took a much more relaxed tone today.

Rep. Bacchus did argue that the legislation proposed would bring casino gambling into every house in the US. He urged his colleagues to not support the bill, and even called for Frank to withdraw the legislation. That was not the case, with several lawmakers coming to the aid of Frank and his proposal.

Several amendments were made to the bill. The amendments came from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, and they moved swiftly through the Committee one by one.

In recent months, several states have taken steps towards assuring that parents that are delinquent on child support payments do not have access to casinos of gambling jackpot wins. The House Finance Committee amended H.R. 2267 to include a provision that those behind on child support payments will be blocked from regulated online gambling sites by the sites themselves.

Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan then proposed an amendment to the legislation that exempted state and tribal lotteries from having to be licensed by the Federal government. Rep. Peters asserted that these entities are already subject to state licensing, and that the Federal government should not get a piece of the revenue generated. The amendment passed.

One of the hot topics raised in a hearing last week was what to do with online gaming sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker that have been accepting US customers against the government's wishes. Rep. Bacchus proposed an amendment that would block any sites that have been disregarding US laws regarding Internet gambling from obtaining a license. The prohibition for these sites was agreed upon in the Committee and the amendment was passed.

One point that was brought up during the discussion is the current state of the US in regards to the World Trade Organization. Currently, the US has applied to withdraw from WTO rule in regards to gambling. If accepted, the withdrawal would mean that if Internet gambling was regulated in the near future, the majority of the jobs created by the industry could stay within the US without having to worry about WTO sanctions.

The last amendment before the vote took place dealt with creating a database of statistics without revealing any private information with individual gamblers' identity. This amendment also passed, leading to a vote. The House Committee then passed H.R. 2267, and Rep. Bacchus called for a roll call vote, which is scheduled for 3:20 PM.

As the Committee moved on to the next piece of legislation, Rep. Frank chose to lighten the mood when he announced, "People who don't care about anything but gambling may now leave," which garnered a couple of chuckles from the remaining Representatives in the room.

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