Mr. President, I would like my colleagues to be aware of an important letter signed by 45 State attorneys general expressing “grave concerns” about Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, H.R. 2046.
The State attorneys general note that the recently enacted Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 has “effectively driven many illicit gambling operators from the American marketplace.” The Frank bill “proposes to do the opposite, by replacing state regulations with a federal licensing program that would permit Internet gambling companies to do business with U.S. customers.” The letter continues:
A federal license would supersede any state enforcement action, because s 5387 in H.R. 2046 would grant an affirmative defense against any prosecution or enforcement action under any Federal or State law to any person who possesses a valid license and complies with the requirements of H.R. 2046. This divestment of state gambling enforcement power is sweeping and unprecedented.
One final but very important point from the letter is the impact of the so-called “opt-out” provisions. Specifically, the letter reads:
[T]he opt-outs may prove illusory. They will likely be challenged before the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization has already shown itself to be hostile to U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling. If it strikes down state opt-outs as unduly restrictive of trade, the way will be open to the greatest expansion of legalized gambling in American history and near total preemption of State laws restricting Internet gambling.
The Frank bill is unacceptable to the State attorneys general and it ought to be unacceptable to Members of Congress as well. I urge my colleagues to oppose the Frank bill or any similar proposals that would create a permissive Federal licensing scheme for Internet gambling.
The blogosphere is boiling over with posts on last year’s UIGEA legislation, which clamped down on online wagering, and where things may be headed in Congress. For a sampling, check out “Online Poker,” “Live Action Poker,” and “USAPokerLife.com.”