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Frank Poised to Unveil Internet Gambling Bill

2/27/09 - The Hill - View Source

By Michael Gleeson

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will soon reintroduce a controversial bill on Internet gambling.

Frank is expected to introduce the measure in the next month or so, according Steve Adamske, communications director for the Financial Services Committee.

Internet gambling, a $13 billion a year industry and growing, is being eyed by some in Washington as a large, untaxed industry that could be tapped into to help aid the government as it continues to battle large federal deficits.

"The U.S. is missing the opportunity to collect billions of dollars in federal revenue," said Jeffrey Sandman, spokesman for Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

According to a study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and touted by Sandman?s group, taxing Internet gambling could generate as much as $51.9 billion in revenue for the federal government over the next 10 years, a number that has been boosted — based on new data — from an earlier assessment of $40 billion.

"Taxing online gambling will allow the Obama administration and Congress to generate revenue ?without raising taxes," Sandman said.

However, other interest groups, including the Christian Coalition of America, do not see the potential windfall of revenue that a tax on Internet gambling would generate as the best prescription for fixing the government?s current fiscal woes.

"Gambling is an issue that takes away money from the family," said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America. "Taxing Internet gambling to raise money is something that simply I don?t support."

Instead, Combs argues, if the government is interested in reducing the deficit, it should start by cutting its own spending.

Frank's bill would overturn aspects of a 2006 law that made it illegal for banks to conduct business with online gambling sites.

In 2007, Frank's bill attracted 48 co-sponsors, but failed to get out of committee.
The Obama administration has not yet taken a position on this issue.

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