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Barney Frank "Cult Hero" for Online Gambling

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/13/2008

A "cult hero for the online gambling industry" - that's how the  Boston Globe described long time Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Barney Frank.

The Democratic congressman from Newton has quietly become a cult hero for poker players and the online gambling industry - the pit boss of poker politics - by championing their cause on Capitol Hill. Showing their appreciation, professional card sharks poured thousands of dollars into his campaign during a fund-raiser at the home of a gambling lobbyist. Since January 2007, he has received $48,300 from poker interests, making up about 7 percent of his individual contributions, according to public records.

More than any other lawmaker, Frank is cited by online gamblers as their standard-bearer. In his powerful position as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, he has proposed legislation that would legalize their industry, which has a shadowy image and is constantly under fire by the US Department of Justice.

And he is reaping the rewards.

Recent donors to his campaign account include a pit boss at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and a professional player named Chris Moneymaker, the Globe reported. In October, 10 of the country's top professional poker players held a fund-raiser in Washington for Frank. They included Annie Duke ("The Duchess Of Poker"), Howard Lederer ("The Professor"), and Andy Bloch ("The Rock").

The chairman of the Financial Services Committee was looking to raise tens of billions of dollars with his bill to repeal an online gambling prohibition law, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

"It’s a terrible idea and there are a large number of people who think it is a terrible idea," Frank said upon introducing his bill last year. "I don’t know how it ends. The worst that happens is that enough anti-gambling busybodies will be less inclined to interfere in people’s lives."

Late last month, Frank attempted to pass his bill that would have essentially made the UIGEA unenforceable.

"The existing legislation is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans and this interference should be undone," said. Rep. Frank.

The online gambling industry was estimated to take in some $5.9 billion, with about 8 million Americans wagering, according to a study done in 2005 by Christiansen Capital Advisors, a Maine-based research firm.

While Frank does not face much of a challenge being re-elected come November, he most certainly will be getting plenty of votes from the online poker and sports betting industry - votes that may not have come his way prior to Frank's efforts.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher CCostigan@CostiganMedia.com

Originally published July 13, 2008 8:19 pm EST

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