Internet Casino Bill Adjusted to Favor Certain Competitors
Among the attachments placed on Barney Frank's bill regulating Internet casinos last week are several items that create a protectionist environment for some gambling operators over others. While Frank and online gambling industry representatives agree moving the bill forward is the primary concern, future disputes may be forecast by observing the subtle manipulation of the Frank measure.
Democratic Representative Joe Baca of California asked for assurance that states and existing tribal agreements would be able to exclude Internet gambling if desired. Republican Michael Castle of Delaware stated he is worried about online gambling's impact on state revenues, which receive income from lotteries and land gaming taxes.
But Frank responded sharply to the arguments over limiting the expansion of online casinos throughout the US. He pointed out that Baca's amendment was not a case against gambling or its inherent dangers, but a protectionist move to insure tribal casinos are guaranteed their profits, regardless of federal law on online gaming.
Baca's home state contains some of the richest and most powerful tribal gaming organizations, which control a strong lobby in the state's political structure.
Still, the state right to opt out of the federal gaming plan was inserted in the bill.
This also spoke to Castle's concerns, protecting his beleaguered state from further losses of projected gambling revenue after the NFL blocked a legalized sports betting plan in court.
Frank clearly was unhappy with the prospect of watering down of H.R. 2267 to serve special gaming interests.
The law "shouldn't protect any service from competition," argued the Massachusetts Democrat. He added that, while "states have the right to revenue, people have the right to choose" which gaming operator they wish to patronize.
The struggle for control of gaming revenue by gambling operators has caused bills in Texas and Massachusetts to fail, despite majority support of gambling expansion. Internet casino companies hope this is not the case for the future of Frank's bill.
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