Barney Frank Hearing

Someone has posted a video feed of the Barney Frank hearings on online gaming. There are some really good points in there.

Frank demolishes the objections raised by pro-UIGEA folks. He’s very articulate and funny on the subject. Radley Balko’s testimony which I quoted in a previous post is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s long, very long but it’s very educational. For instance, I learned that Congressman Bachus is a complete moron. I love the part when he reads Ross Boatman’s profile on Full Tilt’s site and says that because Ross started playing poker at the age of 12 that it proves that online age verification doesn’t work. Ross was 12 years old in 1977, just a few years before the first online card room ever opened. He also keeps claiming that all fifty states have laws against online gaming but then even goes back on that saying “except for a few cases.”

2 thoughts on “Barney Frank Hearing”

  1. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to Spencer Bachus following the 6-8 House hearing.

    The Honorable Spencer Bachus
    2246 Rayburn Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Cc: President George Bush; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; my Representative (on the House Financial Services Committee); both of my Senators; The House Financial Services Committee; The House Judiciary Committee; Republican National Committee; and Michael Bolcerek, PPA President

    Dear Congressman Bachus:

    I’m writing in response to last Friday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing on Internet gambling (June 8, 2007: Can Internet Gambling Be Effectively Regulated to Protect Consumers and the Payments System?, at I was very impressed with quality of the hearing, especially with the witnesses who testified in favor of regulated Internet gambling. I felt the expert testimony of Michael Colopy of Aristotle Inc, Jon Prideaux of Asterion Payments, and Gerald Kitchen of SecureTrading Ltd. proved that Internet gambling can be regulated effectively (and has been successfully regulated in Britain). This pleased me, as I do share your concerns for underage gambling, compulsive gambling, and other issues. Fortunately, this is an issue we can effectively address with technology and regulation, rather than with a “feel good” unconstitutional prohibition. America is far better off with effective regulation than with a prohibition that relies on banks to snoop through our financial transactions and Internet service providers to snoop through our Internet usage history.

    Further, I concurred completely with Radley Balko of Reason Magazine (and a regular contributor) in that what Americans do in their own homes with their own money is their own business. As a limited-government conservative in the tradition of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, I am distressed by the amount of government intrusion in our daily lives. I think many Americans feel the same way. In fact, it pains me to see our party acting as the agent of big government. I imagine you will consider the validity of Mr. Balko’s points relative to our freedoms and liberties, as I know you are a man who believes in these core American values regardless of your personal opinions concerning Internet poker.

    Speaking of Mr. Balko, I was perplexed by your question to him concerning Ross Boatman and his biography on the FullTilt Poker web site. You seemed very concerned that, as a youth, Mr. Boatman played poker with his brother at the kitchen table, likely for pennies, baseball cards, or valueless chips used simply to keep score. Certainly you were not suggesting passing federal legislation to prevent brothers from playing poker at the kitchen table, were you? I certainly hope not, but one never knows, given recent Congressional history. Were you suggesting that Mr. Boatman was playing on the Internet with his brother when he was twelve? Aside from the age verification software present on all online gaming sites, certainly you understand no site ever permitted more than one player from the same IP address to play in the same poker game, due to collusion. I assume you do, as you claim expertise in this area. Also, as Mr. Boatman is in his 40s, he would have been twelve back in the pre-Internet 1970s. Anyway, regardless of the point you were trying to make, fortunately for Mr. Boatman this was prior to the current era of big government Republicanism. Also fortunate for Mr. Boatman, he grew up in England, where poker is not seen as something the national government has any business trying to prevent its citizens from enjoying. As such, he was able to play poker for pennies at his kitchen table with his brother without federal intrusion.

    As for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, you noted that it does not make any gambling illegal that was not already illegal. Rather, it provides legal mechanisms for enforcement of existing state and federal gambling laws. Well, Internet poker is not illegal under existing federal law. As for state laws, very few states have outlawed Internet poker. Conversely, the vast majority of states permit online “games of skill” (such as the money skill games on and other sites that are not affected by UIGEA), and I think we can agree that professional players like Doyle Brunson are certainly skilled. It seems that if states wished to ban Internet poker, it seems they would have done so in an unambiguous fashion … especially if they wished to have the federal government enforce it.

    HR 2046 provides real regulation, rather than a porous prohibition. A regulated Internet gambling environment will facilitate age verification and collection of federal and state taxes. It will also reduce any potential vulnerability of gambling websites to being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorist financing. With regulation, potential problems can be controlled without taking freedoms from Americans. After all, Russians and Eastern Europeans can gamble online; it seems the U.S. should trust its citizens at least as much as Russia trusts theirs, right?

    Proponents of online gambling prohibition often mention endorsements UIGEA received from some in the religious community, some family groups, some financial services groups and some professional sports organizations. I hope you’ll consider the fact that these groups do not necessarily represent the majority of voters in our nation (or even the majority of Alabama Republicans). As for religious and family groups, there is no prohibition against gambling in the Bible, as was noted at the hearing. As a Christian, I personally find it offensive that some in the religious community are willing to give away our freedoms in pursuit of a goal not even defined in the Bible. As for financial services groups, some credit card issuers may like UIGEA (due only to the risk of losing players refusing to pay up), but I do not believe banks wish to be the enforcers of UIGEA. As a result, I think you’ll find financial services groups to be net losers as a result of UIGEA. Finally, I believe the concerns of the major professional sports organizations you mentioned relate only to sports betting. As HR 2046 permits them to opt out, this concern has been addressed.

    In closing, I urge you to reconsider your strong opposition to allowing Americans to make their own decisions concerning playing poker in their own homes via the Internet. Online gambling will continue to exist with or without the participation of the United States. We’re losing our opportunity to control the games via regulation as well as the opportunities for U.S. companies to operate the games both domestically and internationally. This is costing America jobs and tax revenue.

    Thank you for your consideration.



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