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New Online Gambling Legislation Could be Hampered by GOP Plan

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/06/2009

Massachusetts Democrat and Financial Services Committee chairman, Barney Frank, prepared to announce a new bill that would overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), drawn up by Republicans in October 2006.  But Frank will have a tough battle ahead of him.

On Wednesday, the GOP announced new plans to counterattack Barney Frank's legislative initiatives, and that includes online gambling.

Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus's (R-Ala.) revamped strategy of empowering his subcommittee ranking members was born out of necessity, according to several House Republicans.  Bachus, an ardent supporter of online gambling prohibition, has been unable to go toe to toe with Frank in recent months.  He recently declared "there are 17 Socialists in Congress", presumably one of them being Barney Frank, at least in Bachus' eyes.

Bachus said he enlisted his deputy ranking member, Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), to organize weekly meetings with the subcommittee's top minority members to "make sure that we have a message as to what we're for and what we're against and that we're smart and have a coordinated effort to what we bring to the hearings."

Neugebauer said, "We all recognize, particularly [with] what happened in the markets in the fall and in the spring right now, that the Financial Services Committee is in the eye of the hurricane, and I think it's important that we step up."

"On their side, Barney pretty much runs the show, but on our side, it's more of a group effort," a GOP panelist told The Hill on Wednesday. 

Frank has suggested that Bachus was forced to relinquished some authority to more conservative individuals such as Representatives Jbe Hensarling of Texas and Scott Garrett of New Jersey.

"There's been a clear movement to the right in the center of gravity on the Financial Services Committee," Frank commented. "The rise of the Republican Study Committee has made a more assertive conservatism - they were angry with Spencer when he voted for the bailout [last year]."

"The reorganization of the committee was something that I proposed, but I basically reformulated the committee as I felt like it ought to run," Bachus said.

In the end, however, Frank's attempts to abolish the UIGEA may be thwarted by those in his own party.  Despite Congressman Frank's earlier assertions to Gambling911.com's Jenny Woo that an Obama Administration would "improve the odds of online gambling becoming legalized", we reported two weeks ago that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not likely to go along with any attempts to legalize online gambling.

"(House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi knows that her own majority still depends on members elected from relatively conservative rural and suburban districts. Of the 254 House Democrats -- it takes 218 to form a majority -- 49 come from districts John McCain carried last year, according to a Congressional Quarterly analysis. Pelosi wants to protect those 49." ("The Real Pelosi", EJ Dionne, Washington Post Apr. 9, 2009).

Details of Barney Frank's proposed bill were due to be released on Wednesday.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher         

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