Barney Frank: The Casino Advocate the Feds Fear
Barnett "Barney" Frank is one of the most outspoken, controversial and interesting politicians in America and a favourite amongst US gamers for his constant campaigning to modify and even remove the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).
We've been covering Frank for quite some time and his downright brave nature towards opposing the UIGEA has constantly made the headlines in the gaming world. Of course, internet gambling isn't Frank's main concern, but he has consistently made clear that US citizens have the right to practise in activities such as internet gambling and such matters are not the concern of the federal government. In fact, Frank made this point crystal clear in a VoteSmart survey, when he was asked; "should the federal government regulate internet gambling?" Frank simply replied "no".
In 2006, Frank went up against the US House of Representatives, opposing the ban. When Jim Leach Iowa's congressman, suggested that gambling should not be allowed online as it "does not add to the GDP or make America competitive", Frank simply replied "has it become the role of this Congress to prohibit any activity that an adult wants to engage in voluntarily if it doesn't add to the GDP or make us more competitive?" A brave question, and seeing as the ban went through, one that has been answered by the actions of the US Federal Government.
Frank argued that by allowing the bill "the fundamental principle of the autonomy of the individual is at stake". Essentially, Frank noted that if adults aren't allowed to engage in activities that harm no one else, then are they really living in the land of the free? While these questions used to seem rhetorical, the harsh law enforcements that have occurred because of the UIGEA have meant that American's are questioning their own "autonomy".
As we all know, the ban went through, but Frank has remained campaigning. Rather than facing the ban head on and trying to remove it, Frank has taken to questioning the semantics behind the ban. Frank recently went before the House of Representatives once again and proposed that the ban should be suspended until there is an actual working definition of "Unlawful Internet Gambling". A suspension of the ban would mean the US Treasury and Federal Reserve would be unable to prosecute anyone under the act, so the UIGEA would be effectively outlawed, until the House of Representatives could think of an appropriate definition.
However, while we don't doubt Frank will one day change or remove the UIGEA, recent actions, such as Kentucky's unsuccessful attempt to seize the URL's of 141 gambling websites, means that players are now feeling the US government breathing down their collective necks. We reckon that the sooner Frank alters the UIGEA, with the backing of Barack Obama the safer online gaming will be for not only US citizens, but players everywhere.