Overturning the Web gambling ban

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, has long been a foe of the federal ban on Internet gambling. He’s failed so far, however, to muster enough support to repeal the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

So he and others are now trying another approach: telling federal bureaucrats to pretend the law doesn’t exist.

On April 10, Rep. Frank and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, introduced a measure that would prohibit the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System from proposing, prescribing or implementing any regulations required by the ban.

Given that the ban burdens banks and other institutions with monitoring online financial transactions in an effort to discourage adults from gambling at their computers, a moratorium on implementing or crafting regulations necessary to enforce prohibition would effectively overturn the measure.

Rep. Frank argues that banks have more important things to do than waste time investigating whether an individual paid off his online bookie in Belize.

Besides, “Representatives from the regulatory agencies themselves admitted that there are substantial problems in crafting regulations to implement the (ban) in a manner that does not have a substantial adverse effect on the efficiency of the nation’s payment system,” wrote Rep. Frank, Rep. Paul and three other members of the committee in a letter sent to all members of Congress.

Whether Rep. Frank’s bill stands a better chance of surviving than his previous attempts at an outright repeal of the prohibition on online wagering remains to be seen. Why, after all, would somebody support one, but not the other?

Regardless, Reps. Frank and Paul are doing the right thing. One way or another, lawmakers should pull the plug on the ridiculous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

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