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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., though he is a co-sponsor of Nevada-backed legislation to study Internet gambling, on Tuesday questioned its value.
"Studies don't do much," said Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
"What's to study? Whether or not I should be able to make my own bet with my own money?"
Frank made his comments in a brief interview after he addressed members of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce at the Library of Congress. The chamber was meeting with lawmakers and federal officials in a series of briefings this week.
Frank told the Las Vegas group he is working with Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., on legislation to overturn an Internet gambling ban enacted by Congress last year.
Berkley and Jon Porter, R-Nev., introduced a bill in June calling for a one-year study of the $15 billion Internet gam- bling industry by the National Academy of Sciences.
So far, 64 members of the House, including Frank, have signed onto the Nevadans' bill as co-sponsors.
Frank introduced his own bill in April to repeal the ban and require the Department of Treasury to regulate online wagering sites.
Frank's bill has 37 co-sponsors including Berkley but not Porter.
Asked if he intends to move forward with his bill even though the study bill seems to have more support, Frank said, "Of course."
Online wagering companies in Europe, which are blocked from the U.S. market by the ban, are pressuring the European Union to seek as much as $100 billion in compensation from the American government.
"I know (the pressure) is going to increase. I don't know where it ends, but they're going to be asking big bucks from us," Frank said.
The European complaints follow a ruling by the World Trade Organization in March that the U.S. ban on Internet gambling violates international trade law.
A WTO judicial panel ruled in favor of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which challenged the U.S. ban on Internet gambling.
Mark Mendel, the attorney representing Antigua and Barbuda, has estimated the United States will have to pay up to $3.4 billion in damages.
Even if that amount is awarded to Antigua and Barbuda, Frank said it would not have a significant impact on the U.S. Internet gambling ban.
"(Antigua and Barbuda do not have) a big enough economy to have an impact on us," Frank said. "The European Union threatens us with much bigger negative consequences."
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