It was not long ago that seemingly every online gambling news source reported that UIGEA was likely to be repealed this year. They touted accomplishments like Barney Frank’s bill passing the House Financial Services Committee. Meanwhile, I was one of the few people telling you not to hold your breath, that in the limited time left before mid-term elections, it was unlikely that a Congress that is concerned now more with elections than in passing legislation would floor such a controversial bill. Now it seems that Barney Frank agrees with me.
Representative Frank recently told Capitol Hill that he does not believe his online gambling legislation will be discussed on the floor before the mid-term elections. He also does not believe it will be discussed during the lame-duck session. Traditionally, Congress does not pass any major legislation during the lame-duck session because doing so would likely go against the will of the American people, who voted the people out for a reason. Still, some members of Congress have hinted that major controversial legislation such as a climate change bill could reach a vote due to lame ducks having no more fear of losing their job.
Aside from lame-duck legislation, the other dirty trick that could get Frank’s bill passed would be to tack it onto another larger bill, such as a jobs bill or a tax-cut bill. UIGEA was itself tacked onto the SAFE Port Act in 2006 as an amendment and the best chance bill that would repeal UIGEA has is likely to do the same.
Yet even if that happens and Frank’s bill passes the House in 2010, there is still a much bigger problem: the Senate. The closest thing the Senate has to a comparable bill has little support and is also not scheduled for debate. In order for UIGEA to be repealed in 2010, the bill would have to pass the House and then the Senate and if the two bills are different, which is almost guaranteed, it would then have to be combined by a Conference Committee and passed again. It would then have to go to President Obama and signed into law. All of that before the new congressional session in January.
It is for that reason that I think 2011 is the best chance we have for repealing UIGEA. Though Frank may no longer be Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee anymore (and may not even still be in office), Congress should be full of moderate Democrats and Tea Party Republicans that lean toward small-government libertarianism. If that happens, both sides should be able to agree that the government shouldn’t be banning online gambling.