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Barney and Campbell launch federal bill

In a bi-partisan move Thursday, Californian Republican John Campbell and Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank introduced the 2011 model Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.

The new attempt at federal legalisation of online gambling has been keenly anticipated for the past few weeks following the (temporary) failure of state Sen. Ray Lesniak's New Jersey intrastate bill.

Early reports suggest that the new proposal is almost a carbon copy of Frank's HR2267, which failed to make the House floor for debate and vote before the last Congress adjourned, along with another federal measure aimed at legalising online poker sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid.

The last Frank bill attracted a bipartisan mix of some 70 co-sponsors, but early reports on the new initiative do not mention the current position.

Campbell and Frank were supported in the introduction of the bill by Representatives Peter King (Republican) and Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado.

Supporters of legalisation argue that the 2006 UIGEA law has done little to deter Americans who want to gamble from seeking out offshore online gaming sites. They say the United States should legalise online gaming and set up a regime to tax and regulate it to ensure consumers are better protected, and that tax revenues from online gaming could raise billions of dollars over the next decade.

"Clearly, Americans want to gamble on the Internet, and policymakers need to provide both the freedom to do so, as well as ensure that appropriate consumer protections are in place," Campbell said in a statement. "Regulating online gaming and making certain that these sites are operating legally in America will also create economic growth through generated tax revenue and the possibility of attracting foreign players to U.S. sites."

The Poker Players Alliance, which has been closely monitoring the new bill's progress, issued a press release late Thursday commending the introduction of the new bill and calling for its timely consideration.

PPA chairman and former Senator, Alfonse D'Amato, said: "Given that millions of Americans currently play online poker, states across the country are recognizing the value in licensing and regulating the game and many are introducing their own laws to allow for residents to play in a safe, regulated market while collecting millions in tax revenue.

"However, instead of a patchwork of state laws limiting the pool of players against whom residents can play and serving to only protect the Americans in those states, the time is now for Congress to step up and pass federal legislation, like the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, that allows the entire country to benefit.

"The comprehensive bill closely reflects H.R. 2267, which passed through the House Financial Services Committee in July 2010 with overwhelmingly bipartisan support and addressed concerns raised in the hearings.

"Calling for the implementation of new technologies to prevent under age play and problem gambler abuse, the bill expands consumer protections not included in the current Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

"In addition, the federal government and the states will have the authority to prevent consumer fraud and generate revenue through taxes that are currently being paid to competing countries.

"Key provisions of the bill include, among other things:

  • Thorough vetting of potential licensees and creation of an OFAC-style list of illegal operators;

  • Mandatory implementation of technologies to protect against underage gambling using the commercial and government databases used for online banking to verify age and identity;

  • Requirements for operators to set daily, weekly or monthly limits on deposits and lossesto monitor and detect individuals with excessive gaming habits;

  • High standards to thwart fraud, abuse and cheating to ensure fair games for customers;

  • Regulation to prevent money laundering; and,

  • Processes to prevent tax avoidance.

"I commend Representative Campbell and Ranking Member Frank for their leadership to protect players' rights while implementing important consumer safeguards. We look forward to supporting this vital legislation as it moves through the legislative process," D'Amato concluded.

With the Republicans controlling Congress, and online gambling's arch-enemy Representative Spencer Bachus now chairing the House Finanacial Services Committee, the new bill faces some formidable obstacles in the months ahead.

Source: InfoPowa News

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