U.S. Congressman Barney Frank's second try at bringing about clarification and restriction to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) jumped off to a better start than his first attempt when his new measure passed a committee vote on Tuesday. The new measure from Frank (D-MA), the Payments System Protection Act of 2008 (H.R. 6870), cleared Frank's House Financial Services Committee on a 30-19 vote and will now move to the floor of the House for discussion.
Frank's revived measure attempts to limit the reach of the UIGEA to activities already banned under existing federal law, particularly sports betting. According to the bill, the UIGEA would be suspended except for "wagering of the type that is prohibited... (relating to professional and amateur sports protection)." Sites accepting sports wagers would be placed on a list of businesses to be blocked within 60 days of the bill's becoming law. Of particular importance beyond the specifications on sports betting, however, is the bill's requirement that the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve, the agencies responsible for UIGEA oversight, develop strict guidelines as to what is and isn't currently legal under federal law.
The bill passed committee despite last-minute objections from American professional sports leagues and the continuing anti-gambling crusade led in this committee by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL). Several online sources quoted Frank as being disappointed with the objections made by the pro sports leagues, given the language carve-outs specifically included for their protection.
Poker Players Alliance chairman and former Senator Alfonse D'Amato expressed approval at the bill's passage from committee. Said D'Amato: "The PPA is pleased that the House Financial Services Committee today recognized the need to provide necessary clarification to what constitutes 'unlawful Internet gambling' under the [UIGEA] by passing H.R. 6870." Continued D'Amato: "This bipartisan compromise bill will rightfully advance the UIGEA to become immediately effective for such internet gambling that is clearly unlawful, namely sports betting."