House Financial Services Committee approves gambling bill 41-22

House-Committee-Approves-BillH.R. 2267, the Barney Frank-sponsored Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, was approved Wednesday in the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 41-22 (with seven brave Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in voting ‘yea’). The legislation would legalize some forms of internet gambling, such as casino and poker.

Several amendments were voted on during the bill’s markup session, including one that would effectively bar any companies that continued to take American customers post-passage of the UIGEA in 2006 from ever acquiring a license to operate under the new scheme. Sports betting would also not be allowed under the legislation, although in keeping with traditional U.S. hypocrisy, betting on horse racing would be permitted. (For a thorough list of the alterations the bill underwent during the markup period, go here.)

Despite Wednesday’s positive outcome, it is but a single forward step down the long and winding road the bill must travel before it ever becomes something tangible. From here, it must travel through several other scrutinizing panels (Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, House Judiciary Committee, the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, yada yada yada), then the full House of Representatives would have to approve it. If such approval is given, the bill would then proceed to the Senate, where it would undergo further modification before being put to another vote. Assuming all this gets done before this year’s midterm elections, President Obama must still sign it into law, and if his party’s popularity continues to dip in the polls, there’s no telling what he might do (or not do) in the name of pacifying potential swing voters. And that’s not even taking into account the inevitable court challenges that would be launched by states’ rights proponents to resolve the always thorny issue of state v. federal control.

Whatever emerges from all this legislative back and forth, some have mused that it could effectively block U.S. authorities from extraditing someone they accuse of ‘illegal’ online gambling offences, as extradition treaties traditionally need the offence in question to be illegal in both jurisdictions. But like we said, we’ve only just started down this road, so for the moment, we can only wait, watch and wonder. Read more.