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Frank calls out governor for his 'contradictory' Massachusetts casino bill

21 November 2007

It's buried in the final pages of a lengthy document and totals just four paragraphs, but the section of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's casino bill that calls for a ban on any form of wagering over the Internet has predictably drawn the ire of online gambling proponents.

"It's inconsistent and contradictory," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, told Casino City earlier this week. "I'm surprised the governor would do this. I think it's a great mistake."

What Frank is referring to is the item found on page 28 of the 33-page bill designed to pave the way for the construction of three brick and mortar casinos in the Bay State.

The bill also proposes to stop online gambling and aims to punish any person who "knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication deviceā€¦or knowingly installs or maintains said device or equipment for the transmission or receipt of wagering information," with "imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 years, or a fine of not more than $25,000, or both."

Frank, an unabashed online gambling supporter who introduced his own bill in April that would repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and regulate online wagering Web sites, questioned the tactic of Gov. Patrick, whose office did not return repeated phone calls from Casino City regarding this story.

"I don't understand how you can be for casinos but against letting people do the same thing in the privacy of their own homes," he said. "I think they may have thought that this would somehow minimize some of the opposition they are getting from people who think we should ban all forms of gambling, but I think they misjudged it. I don't think it makes any of the gambling opponents any less opposed to casinos."

Ed Leyden, President of the Internet Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), echoed Frank's statements, saying the proposed law would "be another unconstitutional infringement of Americans' digital civil rights."

iMEGA is involved with a lawsuit in U.S. Circuit Court in New Jersey seeking to obtain a temporary restraining order to stop the Department of Justice from implementing regulations to enforce the UIGEA.

"As this case makes its way through the legal system, we believe that it would be best for the Massachusetts legislature to forestall action on this provision and, if, as we expect, a preliminary injunction is issued [the case], legislators should remove this provision from the legislation," Leyden said.

The issue of online gambling continues to be hot-button topic. Last week, a hearing on online gaming was held in Washington D.C. where John Conyers, the Democratic head of the House Judiciary Committee, voiced frustration about what he said are disparities in the enforcement of U.S. Internet gambling laws. Frank said these types of hearings and discussions are crucial to getting the word out about the UIGEA and its inconsistencies.

"We've made progress over the last few months, but not as much as I would like," Frank said. "We're not quite there yet in Washington D.C., but we're getting there. I would think that sometime next year we may have enough of a case to move on something, but that all depends on the citizens calling their congressmen and explaining their opposition (to the UIGEA). Without that, we don't have anything."

Frank calls out governor for his 'contradictory' Massachusetts casino bill is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT