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Barney Frank on Legalized State Online Gambling

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/01/2009
Barney Frank

Much of the talk this summer has focused on both Delaware and New Jersey's efforts to legalize sports betting.  In the case of New Jersey, the idea would be to bet online.  Delaware was dealt a serious blow in late August when a federal appeals court ruled that a sports betting law in Delaware is in violation of a federal prohibition against sports gambling.

Delaware was exempted from the federal ban on sports gambling. But the professional leagues and the NCAA had maintained that the Delaware legislation is illegal because the state was planning to offer single-game betting for the first time.

A three-judge panel in Philadelphia made the ruling after hearing arguments from attorneys for both sides.

On Tuesday September 1, a US appeals court upheld an Internet gambling ban, rejecting a challenge from the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association.  Nonetheless, they did leave the burden up to individual states, 44 of which do not have laws banning interstate gambling. 

"The 3rd Circuit upheld the law, but as indicated by questions during oral arguments, they seem to be saying - ‘if the state where the bet is placed says internet gambling is illegal, then processing that payment is illegal"...meaning that it is not illegal if the state doesn't have a law saying internet gambling is illegal,'" commented Joe Brennan, Jr., head of iMEGA.

Gambling911.com's own Jenny Woo asked House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank what he thought of the professional sports leagues and NCAA's attempts to quash state sports betting and online gambling.

"Unfortunately, they do have a strong lobbying presence," the Congressman stated.   "I'm going to say, it's a little odd for them to be shocked to learn that - well actually what they're saying is, ‘If you let this bill go through, people might start betting on sports games.'  I mean, the hypocrisy of acting as if they don't know that already happens and not at all troubled by it is a little bit disappointing. 

"But we did have to - in our bill - make clear that sports betting will not be covered.  They'll try to kill the bill anyway, which is very disappointing.  Fortunately, they don't have a strong lobby over and above their own position.  That is, they do have some ability to protect and to get an exemption for themselves but they're not going to be able to kill this bill."

Congressman Frank's updated bill focuses exclusively on legalizing online poker.    

As for individual states legalizing online poker, Frank sees some overlapping that could present issues.    

He suggests that even if a state were to legalize online gambling, federal statutes may still take precedent over individual state law.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

 

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