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Legalizing online gaming
Published:  15 July, 2009

U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act. It would allow online gambling in the U.S. for the first time in three years. American businesses could legally compete in this market for the first time.

The Act permits the U.S. Treasury Department to license, regulate and enforce this market. Previously, only offshore casinos and European companies could legally provide online gambling to American players. Three years ago, Congress banned U.S. credit card companies and banks from supporting online gambling, effectively shutting down the marketplace.

One key motivation in Washington is the potential federal tax on legalized online gambling. Operators worry that as another competing consumer activity, legalized online gambling may cut into leisure dollars currently going to the amusements industry.

Frank is presenting his bill as a vehicle for free choice. It includes provisions to prevent underage gambling, protect consumer privacy and combat fraud and money laundering. As part of the Patriot Act passed after September 11, 2001, the gaming industry already operates under strict regulation to eliminate money laundering to potential terrorist groups.

The Amusement and Music Operators Association (AMOA) and the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA) have closely monitored Internet gambling legislation to protect the amusements industry's rights to conduct online skill tournaments with cash prizes. AMOA and AAMA will sustain their lobbying efforts with key Congressional members to guarantee their continuation.

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