Your Guide to HR 2267 Markup Day

by , Jul 28, 2010 | 7:45 am

pic: @scarlet_lv

Editor’s Note: After seven months of what seemed like stall-and-get-nowhere — and a delay yesterday until today — the poker-friendly legislation that Barney Frank (and the PPA) has been pushing and refining since 2007 faces a critical vote. It’s an all-in situation … if we “win”, legislative matters related to online poker and gambling still have a ways and means? to go before seeing the desk of Barack Obama. However, if we lose — as we did by a tie vote back in 2008 — it’s back to the drawing board.

You can watch it all going down here, assuming there aren’t shenanigans in play to delay matters further. And because there’s always a chance I don’t know WTF I’m talking about, Pokerati has deployed a Beltway team to not only keep us posted on today’s developments from the Hill, but also to provide a primer on what’s really in play today for the future of internet gambling and/or poker in America.

You can follow reports from the Hill today on Twitter with @Scarlet_LV, and below is more about what she’s walking into.

HR 2267 Markup

A special report for Pokerati by @Scarlet_LV
photos by James Berglie / Be Photography

If all goes well, the House Financial Services Committee will decide today the fate of HR 2267, which seems to be the keystone for any new laws that stand to eliminate burdens of the UIGEA and establish a framework for the future of licensed and regulated online poker in the United States.

Today’s hearing is a “mark-up”, where the full committee debates amendments to a bill, and votes on a motion to send the bill to the House floor with recommendations on the amendments to consider for a decisive vote. Make sense?

I’m pretty sure that’s how it works — but I never would’ve expected two weeks ago when dealing the WSOP that I’d be on Capitol Hill watching a different (but not too different) game with so much riding on the deals being cut. For more explanation, see house rules and parliamentary procedures here and here.

H.R. 2267 Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.

To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide for the licensing of Internet gambling activities by the Secretary of the Treasury, to provide for consumer protections on the Internet, to enforce the tax code, and for other purposes.

Having attended last week’s meeting, I met this week with people who could fill me in on the amendments the Committee will be discussing today. Though more or fewer are possible, here’s what most expect:

  1. Barney Frank “Managers Amendment” — the contents of this will not be disclosed to anyone before the markup, but it will provide the baseline used to “define the debate”
  2. Brad Sherman –- his amendment will likely look to limit licensing to US-only companies and those that have not been acting “outside the law”.  Supposedly “smaller internet gaming companies” might be able to get around this if added to the bill, but bigger companies with a notable TV presence (such as FullTilt, PokerStars, and UB) would not be able to so easily if at all.
  3. Spencer Bachus / Michele Bachmann –- perhaps with elements of Sherman’s amendment included (I peeked over the shoulder of some lawyer suits holding it yesterday, he’s looking to completely gut the bill and more regulation to strengthen anti-gambling components of the UIGEA.

With these potential amendments, you get a sense of the driving forces currently behind the bill, and the key players. These became apparent during last week’s hearing — which sources tell me was rather unusual for a bill like HR 2267 to get a second hearing like that — as testimony from Members and witnesses helped shape matters that will be in play today.

As the mark-up proceeds, here are the different Members and groups claiming a stake in this piece of legislation.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts)
House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Sponsor of H.R. 2267

Representing:  personal freedom, sensible finance

H.R. 2267 Position: In favor. Says this bill will relieve the burden on banks and notes that the US Chamber of Commerce is likewise supportive.

Washington, D.C. – July 21st: Congressman BARNEY FRANK chairs the House Financial Services committee, discussing the “Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act.”
(Credit Image: © James Berglie)

“Unwise choices is (sic) part of freedom.”

“It is the death of freedom, if you say that because some minority of adults will abuse something you prohibit it.”

“Opposition to this bill consists of partly of people that think that gambling is terrible and partly of people think that it is so wonderful that they don’t want anyone else to compete with them in offering it.”

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama)
House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member

Representing:  anti-gambling, family values and protection of minors; protection of America from unwise financial decisions

H.R. 2267 Position:  Against

Washington, D.C. – July 21st: Congressman SPENCER BACHUS speaks at the House Financial Services committee, discussing the “Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act.”
(Credit Image: © James Berglie)

“After all the talk here about shutting down casinos on Wall Street, it makes no sense to me why we would be taking steps to open casinos in every home, dorm room, library, ipod, blackberry, ipad, and computer in America.”

After citing Obama’s legislation to protect Americans from “unwise financial decisions and predatory practice”, he expressed the irony he finds in discussing “the merits of a bill that will fleece Americans by reversing current restrictions on internet gambling.”   He believes that gambling is perhaps the “ultimate example” of an unwise and harmful financial choice made by Americans.

Claims the revenue from internet gambling will not match the estimates, and in any case, the revenue would benefit at the expense of the vulnerable (addicts, children).

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California)
House Financial Services Committee Rep

Representing:  denying licensing to current operators, perhaps tribal and California brick and mortars

H.R. 2267 Position:  On the fence; modifications need to be made

Rep. Sherman quotes himself as saying in the past “you have had to leave your house to lose your house” but that he is reconsidering his stance.  He makes a interesting point that two reasons that some are making to support the bill are contradictory.  The first is that the technology available is too weak to be able to prevent what is already going on, and therefore we should tax it and benefit; the second is that the technology is strong enough to provide protection from minors.

Sherman seems to be willing to support this such that the current internet sites operating not be allowed to license under the premise they are currently operating outside the law. 

Rep. John Campbell (R-California)
House Financial Services Committee Rep

Representing:  personal freedom, consumer protection, internet gaming for economic growth

H.R. 2267 Position:  In favor

“You know, I don’t gamble, and I don’t particularly like it; in poker, I always forget what’s a straight and a flush ….  ….but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do and making illegal what I don’t.”  Likens people gambling online now to people enjoying liquor during Prohibition.    He supports the concept of consumer protection, and using the online gaming as a revenue stream for the US rather than other countries benefiting.

Rep.  Joe Baca (D-California)
House Financial Services Committee Rep

Representing:  protection of Californian interests – brick and mortars and tribal casinos, protect American jobs

H.R. 2267 Position:  Against

Rep. Baca is primarily concerned that the passing of this bill will cost jobs in the state of California and in the US, and violate tribal sovereignty rights.  He believes that the safeguards stated in this bill will do nothing to protect from fraud or problem gaming.  Baca states he is uncomfortable with the accessibility that internet gaming gives to children and problem gamblers.

Editor’s Note: Check back … the hearing is going on, and we’ve still got some updates on this post coming.

Scarlet Robinson is a Las Vegas poker dealer who tweets her adventures in and out of poker @Scarlet_LV.

7 Comments to “Your Guide to HR 2267 Markup Day”


    Strange how Bachus put so much effort into his amendmant to have him withdraw it> Anyone else find this unusual?

  2. Kevin Mathers

    Probably because he was being too overreaching in the amendment, it could pretty much ban every casino from receiving a license.

  3. DanM

    i think that’s just politics. they ask for way more, then “compromise” by scaling back.

  4. nrocme

    Well Mr. Bachus, the GOP never ceases to amaze in your inability to separate what you deam acceptable financial behavior of US citizens.
    On the one hand, wall street went unchecked for a decade while they played with our retirement money that ended with financial ruin for many peoples long term future(home, 401k values).
    What was the action then? Oh let’s give the big banks billions upon billions so they can continue to get huge bonuses.
    I want to push a few nickels and dimes around with my intertainment dollars and suddenly I’M the one that is showing the ultimate example of harmful financial choices.
    Who the hell votes for people like you?

  5. MRKL33N

    The whole thing is ridiculous, for a lot of reasons. There are a lot of valid points being made about why this thing stinks to high heaven, including the examples of self contradiction given here by others. But the only argument that really matters in the end is that it’s our money, and as Americans we should be free to use it any way we choose.

  6. DanM

    I’ll agree with you Mork, pretty much … but is it wrong for the United States to want to have some sorta say (or at least ringside seat) in the transfer of billions and billions of dollars between multiple entities across international boundaries? Personally I’m not sure, but whether right or wrong, there really is no other “legitimate” industry in the world where that happens without being touched by the finger of Uncle Sam. So this is just what we have to go through.

  7. scarlet_lv

    >>Strange how Bachus put so much effort into his amendment to have him withdraw it Anyone else find this unusual?


    Sorry for delayed comment, but note that Bachus-Bachmann was withdrawn only temporarily early in the day. After the initial presentation during markup was fiercely contested by Frank, it was obvious to all (likely including Bachus and company) that it was clearly too broad and ‘overreaching’ (KevMath).

    In the time between the initial presentation and the and being brought up for discussion and vote at end of day, there were Bachus staffers working furiously in the House corridors to soften the language to present it again.

    I think that Bachus-Bachmann might have stood a chance if they hadn’t completely overshot the target early in the day. I think after the initial presentation, opinion was set against it.