Frank Testimony Before the Ways and Means Committee on Internet Gambling
Today, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) testified before the Ways and Means Committee during a hearing on tax proposals related to Chairman Frank’s legislation to license and regulate Internet gambling activities. The following is Chairman Frank’s testimony as prepared for delivery:
Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Camp, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, creates a legal framework for licensing and regulating online gambling and is designed to work in tandem with Mr. McDermott’s bill, the subject of today’s hearing.
In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was enacted, which restricted the use of the payments system for Americans who sought to gamble online. I believe that it is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans, and should be undone.
H.R. 2267, is designed to protect consumers without restricting their freedom. I have always believed that it is a mistake to tell adults what to do with their own money. Some adults will spend their money foolishly, but it is not the purpose of the Federal Government to prevent them legally from doing it. We should ensure that they have appropriate consumer protections and information, but otherwise allow people to pursue activities that they enjoy which do not harm others. As John Stuart Mill said in his essay, On Liberty in 1869:
“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
I am encouraged to have the strong support of my lead Republican cosponsor on this legislation, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
I have also been very pleased to have strong support for this legislation from the Ranking Republican and former Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, whose concern for public policies that protect us against terrorism is well known to many of us. His support for this bill is very important.
American consumers who wish to gamble online are currently without safeguards against fraud, identity theft, underage and problem gambling and money laundering. Some operators adhere to rigorous regulatory regimes in foreign jurisdictions, but U.S. customers have no local recourse if they have a problem.
And, more to the point for today’s hearing, billions of dollars in taxes – both under existing law and those that would be established under Mr. McDermott’s bill – remain uncollected. Enacting these bills would bring this industry out of the shadows, benefit consumers and ensure that all of the revenue does not continue to exclusively benefit offshore operators.
SUMMARY OF H.R. 2267