The following remarks were made by Congressman Frank on June 24th at press conference in support of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Bill sponsored by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV).
In the previous Congress I was the main sponsor of a different version, H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act of 2009, but I am very happy now to join my colleague Congressman Joe Barton in co --sponsoring this bill. Since last year, things have changed in the House and when it comes to being the lead sponsor I know when to hold them and when to fold them. The time has come to fold my effort and Congressman John Campbell's effort into Congressman Barton's effort.
The principle is the same, there were some smaller details but the principle is very clear: the Federal government should not be telling adults they cannot do something that adults want to do that does not hurt anybody else. One argument being made is what about young people? Well, the answer is very clear, if you say that no adult can do anything over the internet unless we are willing to let a child do it then you might as well shut down the internet. If you are going to have a free society you have got to maintain distinctions between what adults can do and what people underage can do and they work in a number of areas and nothing works perfectly but they work pretty well.
I am for a broader set of people being able to gamble but it is clearly the case that most of the activity is poker. I am very pleased to join Congressman Barton because frankly this is a bill that should have enormous appeal to my Republican colleagues. First of all, there have been strong predictions by both parties but especially the Republicans that you don't regulate the internet. We have an anomalous situation now where, as Congressman Barton alluded to, that some things are illegal if you do them in one context but not if you do them on the internet and that is a terrible violation of principle. Secondly, we talked about excessive regulation. I am on the Financial Services Committee, I work with the banks and there is no regulation on the books that is more of a problem for banks than the one that tells them they are supposed to monitor when a credit card payment comes through, what its purpose was. They are charged with the responsibility not to process payments for gambling debts. It is a difficult job and overwhelmingly people in the banking industry-- big banks, small banks -- object to this very strenuously so we would take a very oppressive regulation off the back of the banks. Finally as Congressman Campbell said, we go from actually costing the government money -- we had the US attorney in NY prosecuting people for conspiracy to draw cards. That is a terrible idea and I wish they would spend less time prosecuting people for trying to get a full house and more time prosecuting people who emptied some houses; that seems to me a far greater problem for us.
Yes we can actually raise revenue and no one likes to raise taxes but here we have a community of people -- poker players -- who want to be law abiding and who are puzzled as I talk to them, if not angry, at being told they are breaking the law because they want to play poker. This is a community-- that I think as part of an operation where their legal status will be restored-- they won't face the kind of threat where they had the indictments with people's funds being frozen, if they will not object to a reasonable degree of taxation. It's not the case where they are raising taxes on people going about their business but you are removing the stigmas on people giving them something that is very important to them, their freedom back. As part of that I think a small revenue raiser would be very helpful.
So I am very encouraged and grateful to Congressman Barton for taking the lead on this and the fact that Congresswoman Shelley Berkley is a co-sponsor and I look forward to passage of this bill.