Markup of Pro Online Poker Bill Could Be Set Week of July 26th
The House Financial Services Committee meeting that took place on July 21, 2010 that was set to discuss Congressman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act HR 2267 that aims at repealing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA) and a lot more than talk happened. Bolstered by the presence and testimony of the well-known poker pro and celebrity Annie Duke, the meeting turned into a lively debate and ended in a stunning announcement by Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) that he would offer an amendment in a yet to be scheduled markup hearing the following week of July 26, 2010.
Annie Duke Was Just One of Five to Give Testimony
Annie Duke who spoke on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) naturally came out in defensive of online gambling, specifically online poker which most believe to be a game of skill and not luck. Many opponents to online gambling say that regulating online poker would only make the issue of problem gamblers even worse. To this Duke argued that of the 70 million poker players in American only 1% are considered problem gamblers.
Michael Fagan, a Law Enforcement and Anti-Terrorism Consultant, came out against HR 2267 and its attempted regulation of online gambling. His opinion was based on his opposition to the offshore nature of current online casinos and poker rooms that he sees as illegal operators under the UIGEA. Mr. Fagan was by far the harshest critic of HR 2267 who gave testimony Wednesday. Lynn Malerba who is the soon-to-be chief of the Mohegan Tribe gave a balanced opinion of the purposed bill in that her tribe, which operate land-based casinos, stressed that “cooperation rather than conflict” is the best course of action with regulating online gambling.
Tom Malkasian, the Vice Chairman for the Commerce Casino, appeared lukewarm as he gave his testimony saying that he believed HR 2267 was flawed in that the possible revenue assumptions stated in the bill are “fundamentally flawed”. His main argument was on the fact that foreign operators would have a leg up on the growth of American based online gambling operators given they have an unfair advantage of knowing the market.
Ed Williams, President, and CEO of the Discovery Federal Credit Union, mainly stuck to the flaws in the UIGEA in that it is vague and does not offer sufficient guidelines for what is illegal online gambling. This statement might not have helped HR 2267, but it most certainly helped establish the distinct problems with the UIGEA.
What the Congressman from the Committee Thought
Overall the committee itself was mixed. Campbell backed HR 2267, but he also faced opposition on the committee from its ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA). Baca specifically voiced his ardent opposition to HR 2267 as he believes the bill would threaten over 20,000 jobs in his native California and also the livelihoods of the Mohegan Tribe.
Barney Frank had to leave part way through the meeting to attend to other business, but Congressman Campbell might as well have been his tag team partner as he said at the end of the meeting that he will offer an amendment to HR 2267 in a markup hearing the following week of July 26, 2010 to help bolster the bill. He plans on adding that the use of sophisticated technologies must be instituted and that there should be a loss limit imposed, which doesn’t even exist for land-based casinos.
Given that the meeting started late at 2:30 pm and finished at 5:00 pm the committee hearing was able to get through a lot and the journey to regulated online gambling may have finally made it to its next major step: a markup. It is said that the markup hearing will be announced from Barney Frank’s office as soon as it is properly scheduled.