U.S to Roll Dice on Lifting Internet Gambling Ban?

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Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the house Financial Services Committee, indicated at a press conference Thursday he intends to push for a repeal of the three-year-old Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which effectively quashed online gambling in the United States by barring businesses from knowingly accepting payments from credit cards, checks, and electronic funds transfers made in connection with unlawful Internet gambling. When enacted, the ban strained trade ties with the European Union, as European online casinos and other operations lost billions of dollars in market value and revenue as their U.S. customer pools dried up.

At the time the ban was passed, those in favor of the Act argued illegal online gambling sapped billions from the U.S. economy, fueled money laundering operations, and damaged families as people (even children) became irresponsibly embroiled to online gambling. Those in favor of lifting the ban argue it impinges on personal liberties and, if property regulated, could turn into a financial windfall for the U.S. government, with some estimates indicating taxes and regulatory fees on online gambling could bring in over $50 billion to the U.S. government over a decade.

The European Commission is currently conducting and investigation into whether the U.S. Justice Department is targeting European gambling operations for prosecution while letting U.S.-based companies operate with impunity. The European Commission is expected to release a report with its findings to the World Trade Organization on its findings by the middle of the year.

Representative Frank has been consistently opposed to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act; the Act was passed when Republicans were in control of both Congress and the White House.