Poker News

On Wednesday, the merits of HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, were debated in the House Financial Services Committee. Now that the banter has ceased, several industry organizations have had a chance to weigh in, including the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA). pro Annie Duke represented the PPA as a witness at the hearing. Her testimony focused on increasing attendance numbers at the World Series of Poker manifesting the continued growth of online poker and the importance of preserving personal freedoms. PPA Executive Director John Pappas commented in a press release on Wednesday, “Our opponents can’t offer a consistent argument on this issue. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Fagan wants to go as far as banning internet gambling outright and Tom Malkasian of the Commerce Casino supports licensing and regulation – just not a competitive marketplace. It seems that our opponents don’t even agree with each other here.”

About halfway through the hearing, Frank observed, “The opposition to this bill consists of people who think [internet gambling] is terrible and people who think it’s so wonderful that they don’t want anyone to compete with them in it.” Pappas concluded his comments on Wednesday’s Financial Services Committee hearing by noting, “The PPA is ready and eager to work with policymakers to continue moving this legislation through the process.”

Commending Duke’s appearance at the hearing was iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan, who told Poker News Daily on Thursday morning, “I’m glad to see that Annie Duke spoke up on behalf of the PPA, but the hearing ended with no real commitment to go forward. At this point, as hard as the PPA has worked, they deserve more than just a hearing every three or four months. They deserve a committee vote. Now that financial reform has passed, we’ll see if Barney Frank (D-MA) can get a vote on his own bill.”

Frank, who chairs the Financial Services Committee, may have a new Ranking Member in the next Congress, as a Politico article on Thursday outlined a possible Republican challenge to Spencer Bachus (R-AL). Frank introduced HR 2267 in May 2009 and the measure has picked up 69 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle. Among its most vocal proponents on Wednesday was John Campbell (R-CA), who expressed a desire to add an amendment to HR 2267 containing an increased use of technology and a loss limit. What the latter’s impact would be on high-stakes cash games and tournaments remains to be seen.

The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI), which was called out by Bachus on Wednesday as “corporate interests protecting the bottom line,” also weighed in on the hearing. SSIGI spokesperson Michael Waxman commented in a press release, “Lawmakers who have not yet taken a position on this issue should realize that their constituents are likely among the millions of Americans who wager online despite attempts to prohibit the activity. Members would best serve their constituents by accurately representing their interests and supporting Chairman Frank’s bill.”

The SSIGI release reminded lawmakers that a licensed internet gambling industry stands to pump as much as $42 billion in revenue into the U.S. economy over 10 years. In addition, up to 32,000 jobs could be created in the first five years according to an analysis by H2 Gambling Capital. The tax companion bill to HR 2267 is HR 4976, introduced by Jim McDermott (D-WA) and discussed in May in the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition to raising funds for states and tribes, HR 4976 institutes a 2% tax on deposits.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest poker legislation headlines.

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