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Barney Frank Keeps the Punters Waiting

26 April, 2009,  Rita Malhotra, Staff writer


Next week, soon, before the end of the month, at the next house session.  News reports for months now have been speculating on when exactly Democrat Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts will introduce his UIGEA repealing legislation.

It is a piece of legislation that has had the gambling world waiting with baited breath now for months.  And is not just operators of online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms who are keeping a close eye on development sin Washington in this regard.

Both the European Commission and the World Trade Organization will be both be very interested also in how this unfolds.  The European Commission, the EU's executive arm has made no secret of the fact that it believes America's current prohibitive approach to foreign online gambling operators is a beach of international trade commitments. 

They want Washington to follow their lead in opening online gambling markets under a regulatory regime.  Under such an approach, the large, EU listed online gambling operators like Party Gaming and Sportingbet, who both pulled out of the US market in 2006 when UIGEA was enacted, will once again have a chance to compete for US customers. 

Meanwhile the WTO has already adjudicated UIGEA and associated anti-online gambling laws contrary to free trade covenants in a case brought by the Government of Antigua Barbuda.  Another case, this time brought by the European Commission is a real possibility if current laws in the US are not changed soon.

It is now widely believed that legislation introduced to repeal UIGEA may well have bi-partisan support despite the fact that a past attempt with similar legislation introduced by Frank in 2007 failed.  The past 2 years have gone a long way to demonstrate that UIGEA is unworkable from a practical standpoint, and the estimated $50 billion tax revenue to be generated over the next 10 years from a regulatory regime must be a very attractive proposition too a government looking at ways to pay off mounting debts amassing from stimulus packages and Wall Street bailouts.

 

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