Barney Frank

word type: person

  1. Online poker's number one proponent in the U.S. Congress
  2. Democratic Representative from the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts


Congressman Barney Frank joined the United States House of Representatives in 1981. In 2007, he became the Chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the banking industry, U.S. Treasury, and Federal Reserve. He is a proponent of gay and lesbian rights as well as the legalization of some forms of marijuana. His controversial nature and outspoken tone has led him to become a champion of internet gambling in Congress.

Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act

Frank's crowning jewel was the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (HR 2140). The bill established a complete licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States, allowing foreign and domestic operators to obtain certification by the U.S. Government to solicit residents' business.

A bevy of entities could opt out of the bill, including States, Indian Tribes, and professional sports leagues. All told, the bill's text declared that 47% of the gross global gaming yield in 2005 came from North American residents, presenting a unique opportunity to extract tax revenue from an untapped industry.

The bill was introduced on April 30th, 2007 and attracted 48 co-sponsors. However, it was not acted on by the end of the 2008 Congressional session and therefore must be reintroduced for consideration in 2009. The bill was the most complete attempt to legalize and regulate the internet gambling and online poker industries in the United States.

Payments System Protection Act

Two versions of Frank's Payments System Protection Act saw the light of day during the 110th Congress. The first was HR 5767, co-sponsored by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), a former Presidential candidate. The bipartisan measure, which was discussed in the House Financial Services Committee in June, sought to stop the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). An amendment by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) called for a list to be developed of what is and is not legal under the UIGEA before it was enforced. The amendment fell by virtue of a 32-32 tie vote in Committee. HR 5767 was then defeated by an oral vote.

The second version of the Payments System Protection Act, HR 6870, passed the House Financial Services Committee in December by a 30-19 vote. The bill froze all regulations of the UIGEA except for those dealing with sports betting. It also charged an administrative law judge with determining what is legal and illegal under the UIGEA. HR 6870 was co-sponsored by Congressman Peter King (R-NY).

The economic collapse of 2008 stunted any discussion of HR 6870 and the bill was not acted on during the 110th Congress. It must now be reintroduced for consideration.

2009 Legislation

During the mark-up hearing of HR 6870 in September of 2008, Frank announced that he was prepared to undo the UIGEA altogether. He told Reuters in February of 2009 that he plans to introduce legislation favorable to internet gambling in March. No indication has been given as to what a proposed bill would contain. Many have speculated that a pro poker bill would be one of the first pieces of legislation to be introduced.