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Barney Frank a Busy Man Amidst Wall Street Turmoil, Online Gambling Bill

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/17/2008
Barney Frank

Chairman of House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, has been a busy man these days. The Wall Street mess, housing crisis and online gambling have all been key issues on Frank's busy agenda these days.

Frank managed to push through HR 6870 - the Payments System Protection Act - which expressly calls for the suspension of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act except under certain conditions. Essentially, Congressman Frank wants to see online poker and many other forms of Internet gambling legalized, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar industry in the States. Presently, a hundred percent of the industry is operating off shore, though more than half the revenues are still generated from US citizens.

The legislation was approved by a 30-19 vote, paving the way for Congress to be discussing this issue in 2009. Nothing further will be done on this matter by year's end.

Online gambling has powerful lobbyists in its corner. Just Tuesday, it was revealed that Democratic Presidential running mate Joe Biden's son had been working on behalf of PartyGaming, the largest IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2004. It is also one of the top 5 biggest online poker firms in the world. Prior to passage of the UIGEA, Party was the biggest and double the size of its nearest competitor. The company was forced out of the US market after the UIGEA passed into law in October 2006.

Barney Frank has also worked with Republicans on Internet gambling legislation, most notably Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.

Several of the 19 Republicans who voted against Frank's recent bill are up for re-election in November and the online gambling industry has vowed to target their respective districts to ensure that voters are made aware of their representatives stance against personal freedoms in regard to gambling on the web. A similar campaign in 2006 resulted in a shocking upset of Iowa Congressman, Jim Leach, who was an architect of the UIGEA. Leach later expressed anger over its passage, claiming the legislation had been watered down, thus resulting in the confusion over its language that followed. Ironically, Leach has become one of the most ardent supporters of Barack Obama.

But Frank won't let his agenda reality to Internet gambling get in the way of other pressing issues, such as the turmoil on Wall Street.

He spoke on the A.I.G. bailout Tuesday night.

"This is one more affirmation that lack of regulation has caused serious problems. The private market screwed itself up and needs the government to come help unscrew it."

Frank said a new government company may need to be established to deal with the fallout from a crisis in the financial sector.

He stipulated that Frank stipulated that legislation to create such an entity likely would not materialize "in the next few weeks," and that passage of legislation this year in a "lame duck" session after the presidential election is "unlikely."

But he maintained that the creation of a company like the Resolution Trust Corporation- which would mark some of the most dramatic moves yet by the government to intervene in the troubled U.S. markets - is a real possibility.

"The question is, going forward, has the accumulation of bad paper reached the point where nothing can happen unless you deal with it?" Frank said. "That's a question that's got to be explored."

Frank's panel will hold a hearing next Tuesday to explore whether the government should take more aggressive action to sort out the turmoil in the financial markets.

"There have been a series of ad hoc interventions. The time has come to begin thinking about a systematic approach," Frank told reporters Tuesday.

Barney Frank has been a work horse in the House. As chairman, Frank steered the major housing relief bill of 2008 to passage, which aims to protect thousands of homeowners from foreclosure. This law, H.R. 3221, The American Housing Rescue & Foreclosure Prevention Act, was the most important and complex issues on which he worked. Frank was also instrumental is the passage of H.R. 5244, the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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