|Posted: December 10, 2007, 4:30 pm - IP Logged|
A further three congressmen have signed up to US Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, but the growing list of co-sponsors clearly demonstrates the partisan nature of the debate surrounding online gaming in the United States, with Democratic supporters outnumbering Republicans by 10 to 1.
The most recent co-sponsors to sign up to the bill this week were Representatives Andrews, Smith and Larson, all of whom are from the Democratic party. In fact, only four Republicans have broken from party lines to come out in favour of an alternative to the UIGEA, which bans financial institutions from processing transactions relating to ‘unlawful’ internet gambling.
The real issue before US legislators is not whether people should be allowed to gamble online in the United States, which is something that is impossible to control without censoring the internet. Rather, the question is whether it is better for Americans to gamble online in a regulated and secure environment.
There is clearly a gulf emerging between the regulated and licensed online gaming operators of Europe and the wild west frontier of gaming in America. That’s not to say that all non-European operators are cowboys, as there are numerous legitimate and professional operators that provide a quality service to international customers, including those in the US, but in many cases that is down to good management at an individual company level and not as a result of a transparent and secure marketplace.
The steady growth in player liquidity among US facing sites is the most obvious proof that the UIGEA has been ineffective in stamping out online gaming in that market, and the proposed UIGEA implementation rules that were issued by the US Treasury and Federal Reserve, which skirted the question of online gaming’s legality and transferred the liability for non-compliance to the financial community, have in fact emboldened some operators who previously withdrew from the US market to go back in.
The question for Republican and Democratic opponents of online gambling alike is now a simple one. Can we effectively block online gambling sites from the computer screens of US citizens, and if not, how best can we protect US citizens who do choose to gamble online?