According to Reuters reports as the week ended, the next substantial attack on the controversial Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 could commence as early as mid-March 2009.
Spearheaded by Congressman Barney Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, the proposal will seek to repeal the disruptive and much-criticised three-year-old U.S. ban on Internet gambling financial transactions that has caused billions in losses and hurt US trade ties with the European Union.
“I’m going to be pushing it,” Frank told reporters at a press conference to lay out his agenda for reforming U.S. financial regulation.
One of Frank’s aides added that work on drafting the legislation should be completed soon.
Advocates of overturning the UIGEA say it is an unwarranted impingement on personal liberty, and point to independent estimates that the United States could raise nearly $52 billion in revenue over the next decade by taxing and regulating Internet gambling instead of trying to prohibit it.
Controversial “carve-outs” in US law that permit online gambling in the horseracing, fantasy sports and state lotteries sectors have also been heavily criticised as inequitable, leading to major World Trade Organisation decisions going against the USA.
Adding fuel to the fire, the London-based Remote Gambling Association has accused the U.S. Justice Department of singling out European online gambling companies like PartyGaming, Sportingbet and 888.com for prosecution while allowing similar U.S. companies to operate freely through the Internet. This has resulted in a European Commission investigation, the results of which are expected to be released soon. Insiders claim that the report will confirm that there are grounds to take further action against the United States at the World Trade Organisation, although a negotiated resolution would be preferred .
Bail-out critical American tax-payers will also be interested to learn that other items on Congressman Frank’s agenda include a March 24th hearing with the U.S. Attorney General, FBI, SEC and bank regulators on potential criminal and civil prosecutions of “…those responsible for irresponsible loans, securitization and the resulting U.S. financial crisis.” He will also push for legislation to restrain securitisation, anticipating that $7.6 billion of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout money will be returned to the U.S.