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Bill Introduced may create exemption for poker

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 (IGREA) that would create an exemption to the prior ban on online poker and online gambling for properly licensed operators, allowing US residents to lawfully bet online.

IGREA seeks to establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework to license companies to accept bets and wagers online from U.S. residents, to the extent permitted by states, Indian tribes and sports leagues.

The bill is written to allow individual states, and Native American tribes to determine whether online betting is will be permitted in their locations. Individual sport leagues, most notably the NFL who strongly opposes online gambling, can also determine whether online betting on their leagues will be permitted.

All such licenses would include protections against underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money laundering and fraud.

Referring to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed last October, Frank said: “The existing legislation is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans and this interference should be undone.”

The UIGEA prohibits financial institutions to process transactions between US residents and any form of Internet gambling that is illegal under U.S. federal or state law. It is not illegal to play at poker sites such as FullTiltPoker, so there is no reason not to sign up and start playing today.

Frank pointed out that traditional forms of legalized gambling already exist in nearly every state. By continuing to prohibit Internet gambling in the U.S., the U.S. has left Americans who choose to gamble online without meaningful consumer protections. The proposed legislation would institute practical and enforceable standards to bring transparency to Internet gambling and provide consumers the protections they expect and deserve.

The Financial Services Committee announced that it will hold a hearing entitled, “Can Internet gambling be regulated to protect consumers and the payments system?” at a date to be determined in June, 2007.

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