U.S Set To Push Online Gambling

The politics news portal National Journal reported a newfound vigour to drive legislation to put in place a regulatory framework for online gambling. It all started with the passage of Barney Frank’s HR 2267 in the House Financial Services Committee the previous month.

In March 2010 Democrat House Representative from Washington, Jim McDermott, introduced the bill HR 4976, which named the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010. This was a companion bill to the HR 2267.  In contrast HR 2267 concentrates on the regulatory framework, HR 4976 authorizes amendments to the Internal Revenue Code and to levy taxes and fees on online gambling it also indicates how the collected taxes are to be utilised.  This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee to be discussion and marked up.

Now that HR 2267 has cleared its committee, McDermott is pushing House Representative Sander Levin to schedule a mark up hearing for HR 4976. Levin is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. According to the National Journal report Levin has not made a decision as yet whether HR 4976 should be marked up or not.  

In the case of HR 2267 this task was much easier because Frank was both the bill’s sponsor and the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.  This mark up is imperative since the House discussion on both bills can be held simultaneously and a full floor vote could be scheduled before the House takes the October break to campaign for the November elections.  Issues in both bills are largely common a simultaneous hearing would avoid duplication and consequent delays.

In due course both bills will have to be passed by the Senate as well and there Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid holds the key.  It is said that the bills cannot pass the Senate unless they have his support. Reid is a native from Nevada, which is the home of the land casinos.  He indicated that he will not take any steps that will impact the interests of the land casinos or take away jobs from Nevada. Since the land casino lobby has been divided on the issue Reid has been neutral.

Now the Reno Gazette-Journal has reported that Reid has expressed his willingness to support a limited form of online gambling legislation. He has agreed to regulated online poker only, but remains opposed to other forms of online gambling like casino, bingo and sports betting. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Reid made this announcement while addressing Nevada casino executives at a meeting at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. This should end the seesaw reports that have surfaced in the various press forums about which way Senator Reid will swing.

Whether Frank and McDermott accept online poker legislation is yet to be seen.  Incidentally the powerful sports bodies had forced Frank to drop sports betting from the purview of HR 2267.



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