Posts Tagged ‘Barney Frank’

The Players’ Voice in Washington DC

by , Aug 3, 2013 | 7:43 pm

During the past month, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) has been on the move in his quest to bring about federal legislation favorable to online poker with an equally favorable revenue component for government.

At the end of June, the Congressman hit the road for his 3rd annual visit to the World Series of Poker—this time, to preview his latest federal legislative bill before introducing it into the U.S. House of Representatives. The official introduction of his newly minted bill H.R. 2666, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, followed on July 12.

Days later, Barton held a telephone press conference to discuss the new bill which “establishes a program for the licensing of Internet poker by States and federally recognized Indian tribes, and for other purposes.”  The teleconference was attended by media outlets across the country, including this reporter. However, it wasn’t until last week, when I met with the Congressman in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., that I got the complete picture of where he stands on poker and poker legislation. At the end of this day, Barton remains as unclear as anyone on the likely time table for passage of federal legislation to legalize online poker, by the Congress, but he exudes confidence that day will come.

Barton Invokes the President’s Name 
Barton is methodical. He is an engineer by training. He is a seasoned politician. He has held his Congressional seat since 1984. He rates himself as a good amateur poker player. By all accounts from mutual friends, this is an understatement. With a slight twinkle in his eye and a  poker player’s understanding of a well-placed semi-bluff, Barton goes further than mere prediction in stating that he expects President Obama to sign his legislative bill to legalize online poker, if it reaches his desk.

Barton talks the talk at poker tables and he walks the walk around the House in gambits to prod progress on the right online poker bill. He seeks a sensible federal law that will allow online poker in states that are so inclined, under the best conditions for all concerned.

He is also a pragmatist who recognizes the road will not be easy. His latest online “poker only” bill, like the others in which he has been intimately involved, previously, is designed to exempt poker from the category of “games of chance” which are subject to anti-gambling statutes. During our hour-long visit in Washington and a subsequent telephone call, Barton resonated as “the genuine article.”


Poker Champion Headed to US Senate?

by , Jan 30, 2013 | 6:03 am

barney-frank-1John Kerry got confirmed as the next US Secretary of State yesterday, which means he steps down from his role as senator from Massachusetts. That also means there’s a good chance that retired Rep. Barney Frank, one of the first Beltway champions of licensed and regulated online poker, could take the role.

A special election during the 4th week of the WSOP will decide Kerry’s full-time replacement, but Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick gets to appoint a stand-in in the interim — which has Frank, who just ended his career as a 16-term Congressman a few weeks ago, ready to come out of retirement.

Though no guarantees, if anything, Frank could prove a strong ally for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid … at least with Frank, he wouldn’t have to get him up to speed on the important issues and/or online poker.

As Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank, together with out-of-the-box GOP hero Rep. Ron Paul, created bi-partisan legislation that was set to undo the UIGEA back in ’08 … but a committee vote on a key amendment that resulted in a surprising tie killed a Republican-assisted effort to slip it into some bank relief. It was online poker’s first big loss in Congress (post-UIGEA), and for many new Pokeraticos, our introduction to lower-level political dirty tricks.

Frank, perhaps curiously, was not a huge fan of “poker only” legislation that he would find himself pushing. The anti-UIGEA stuff he originally put out there with Paul was built on prinicipals of personal freedom, consumer protections, and keeping government off your computer … and if they really believed all that, Frank argued, along with their own estimates online gaming’s ability to generate $40 billion over 10 years … then why limit it to poker, leaving slot players and sports bettors to fend for themselves?

Gov. Patrick says he will announce today who’ll get the temporary job. And he’s already suggesting how Frank might not be the guy. But likewise, Frank’s also got potentially better things to do, like playing a Senator in “Fiorello”, which you may recall is the Broadway musical that pays homage to the longtime, ever-dynamic relationship between poker and politics.

Online Pokerer Plays Big in Election Politics

by , Oct 23, 2012 | 1:31 pm

PresidentTracker: One of the world’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 at the WSOP in 2011.
(Photo: PokerListings)

Plenty of talk about polls as we head into the homestretch of our 2012 US Presidential election. Who’s up, who’s down, who asked what and margin-of-error how? Just remember: no matter where you are on the political spectrum, in the horserace journalism of it all, the mainstream media are primary beneficiaries of a tight race. At least that’s what I keep telling myself after making some rather significant wagers on essentially a “gut” feeling that the national economy was improving and no way more than 43 percent of Americans would vote for a guy who strapped his dog to the roof of a car.

But proper analysis is apparently not so simple.

No wonder so many pundits are looking to a former online poker semi-pro to tell us who’s the best bet for president.

Nate Silver, 34, is author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t … and he’s all the rage among the politerati these days. His book apparently brings multi-level thinking taught by hand histories into the political sphere. And in doing so, Silver puts online poker on the same level as other imperfect but predictive sciences such as hurricane tracking and counterterrorism. (And nobody seems to be laughing at the comparisons!)

The Signal and the Noise came out the chute in September on the New York Times bestseller list, where it’s currently #15 among all non-fiction books. And at the time of this posting, the book ranked #1 on Amazon for books about math, #1 for technology, and #2 for politics and social sciences.


Joe Barton headed to Vegas with new online poker bill in tow

by , Jun 21, 2011 | 2:17 pm

photo by James Berglie

Joe Barton’s online poker: “And then he three-bet me on the turn with — get this — jack-high! How sick is that?”

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) will be in Las Vegas for Friday’s shuffle-up-and-deal … and possibly to unveil his new online poker (only) bill.

The Texas Republican has taken the baton from Barney Frank (D-MA), by way of John Campbell (R-CA), to lead the charge for licensed and regulated online poker in the House, with a new bill his office says he plans to “drop” either Friday or closer to the July 4th weekend.

It’s still probably too early to make decent predictions, prognostication, and prop bets — haven’t even seen a draft yet — but the forces lining up this go-round are indeed different than before.

This time we’re talking about an online poker-only bill, with a different committee path, and a conservative Republican — perhaps looking to put a bipartisan feather in his cap before the ’12 elections — charged with rallying support on his side of the aisle.


Barney Frank Calls out Obama for Online Poker Smackdown

by , Apr 18, 2011 | 3:25 pm

In a bout of Democrat-on-Democrat tongue-lashing, longtime online gambling champion Rep. Barney Frank pointed to the Obama Administration, which oversees the DOJ, for pointless prosecutions and an unsmart use of resources, but came short of defending any indicted online poker defendants.

Frank mocked the seizures as the administration “protecting the public from the scourge of inside straights,” and lamented that the Justice Department is more focused on prosecuting online poker sites than those responsible for the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown.

“Go after the people responsible for empty houses, not full houses,” Frank added.

Doh! Barney was doing so well with that first poker metaphor, but then kinda blew it with the addendum, imho.

Still, you see the venerable liberal Congressman willing to finger the President more so than Bill Frist and the Republicans or Eric Holder and SDNY or Spencer Bachus or anyone else. Why would he direct his balk at Barack like this? Sour grapes, non-partisan principle, or something more he’d like the DC press corp to know about Obama’s role in the timing of these indictments?

Campbell Introduces ‘New’ Federal iGambling Bill

HR2267 text repurposed as #campbellbill

by , Mar 17, 2011 | 7:41 pm

The House Committee on Financial Services released an official statement this evening which announced the awaited introduction of a new federal internet gambling bill by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA).  The new <shall-we-say> #campbellbill is, at the moment, identical to the last amended HR2267, whose most recent version can be found-> here.

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act was introduced in the House today by Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) with Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) as a leading sponsor. Congressmen Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Peter King (R-NY) are also leading co-sponsors.   The bill is identical to H.R. 2267 that was passed out of the House Financial Services Committee on July 28, 2010 with bi-partisan support.  The bill would establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework under which Internet gambling operators could obtain licenses authorizing them to accept bets and wagers from individuals in the United States. The legislation comes in response to the enactment of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which restricted the use of the payments system for Americans who gamble online.

As a recap, HR2267 passed through the Financial Service Committee last July.  It never took further steps in Congress last year, despite a significant sweat.  Harry Reid floated a draft of an internet gambling bill in December, known lovingly as #reidbill in Twitter, which also never made further official progress on Capitol Hill.  HR2267 contained no mention of the now dreaded “blackout” period that was the most infamous part of the #reidbill draft.

You can read the full statement by PPA, giving Campbell/Frank a virtual pat on the back-> here.

California Republican Partners with Barney Frank to Re-introduce Federal Regulation Bill

Campbell to represent at online gambling summit in San Francisco

by , Feb 10, 2011 | 2:52 pm

Photo © James Berglie / BePhotography
Rep. John Campbell isn’t ready to just throw his hands in the air over the uncertain future of online gambling in the US.

Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) intends to take the lead in a Republican-controlled US House of Representatives on the internet gambling debate by bringing forth legislation similar to what Barney Frank (D-MA) has been pushing for years, according to Gambling Compliance.

Frank has reportedly signed on as the lead Democratic co-sponsor.

You may remember Campbell from his efforts to remove sports betting from last year’s Frank bill.

Campbell will be on hand in San Francisco in May as a keynote speaker for GIGSE 2011. The Global iGaming Summit and Expo was once one of the pre-eminent “annual” gaming conferences in the world, but went on a two-year hiatus after a move from Montreal to Malta. Returning to North America, and specifically US soil (California, no less!) seems to be a big deal for the conference and the gambling industry overall.

GIGSE says it has no political agenda — though its 2011 lineup of speakers suggests licensed and regulated online gaming in the US really is a matter of when not if. In addition to Campbell and likely supporters of his bills such as the PPA, conference speakers will include representatives from the Department of Justice, California Indians, other Native American gaming interests, Caesars Interactive, iMEGA, the Kentucky horse racing industry, various lottery interests, Jeffery Pollack’s Federated Sports+Gaming … and several others who have long found themselves at opposing ends of mutual interests.

Sounds to me like this could be the biggest think-tank confab of people shaping our lives ever. Or, at a minimum, if they can’t all put their heads together to reach the same overall endgame, it could turn into a massively awesome battle royale that could include the throwing of chairs.

The Birth of (Legal) Online Sports Betting in America

Leroy’s primed to dominate a nascent industry?

by , Sep 19, 2010 | 12:47 am

This is a little confusing … because didn’t Barney Frank succumb to the NFL and make sure sports betting wasn’t included in any bill that codifies American freedom to gamble online?

I thought so, too … and maybe that’s why few seem to be recognizing the historic happenings right here, right now, with sports betting in Nevada. Check out the new TV commercials — seen on the local ABC affiliate before the UT-Tech game — for the first ever legal wagering app in the United States, moral opposition be damned:

We knew the release of “Leroy’s App” might be kinda a big deal … and the CEO of Leroy’s parent company, American Wagering, Inc., spells out pretty clearly their intent to have their finger on every “online” sports bet in the country with “interstate sports betting networks, phone betting, and real-time handheld devices”:


Late Night (Talk Show) Poker

Nightline and Leno talk online poker

by , Sep 1, 2010 | 6:10 am

It’s a rare moment to have online poker discussed on late night TV, but Tuesday night had two separate programs dedicated time to the topic.

First, ABC’s Nightline aired their segment on teenagers winning big playing online poker:

Later, NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno featured Barney Frank, and when the subject came around to ways to raise revenues (around 3:45), Frank offered his support of legislation regulating online poker. Leno — making appearances this month at the Mirage in Vegas — wasn’t supporting the idea:

The PPA vs. California Card Rooms

Fires flare over Commerce opposition to online gambling bill

by , Aug 29, 2010 | 9:48 am

Drama was out in full force this past week, with allegations of hypocrisy, cheating, and extortion exploding through the poker world, which was still feeling aftershocks from an Annie Duke/Daniel Negreanu feud that had reached new levels of nastiness after Negreanu’s aggressive C-bet. But the poker fight that really blew up late last week was between the Commerce Casino and PPA, and shows how heated political matters can get in a very short period of time.

Open letter from pros, PPA website target Commerce
Though Barney Frank’s online gambling bill made it out of committee last month relatively unscathed, one troublesome opponent came from the Commerce Casino in California. In an effort to squelch the impact of their dissent, the PPA sends its million-plus members word of an open letter to the Commerce (signed by a few dozen top-level pros) and launches, making it easy for poker players to bombard the Commerce with tweets, emails, and phone calls voicing displeasure.

Commerce says PPA misguided, Frank bill will cost jobs and hurt poker
Commerce board member Tom Malkasian, who testified against HR 2267 last month, turned up his rhetoric against the PPA, saying they are ignoring key issues. The Commerce has a right to fight against unfair competition from offshore operations, he tells PokerNewsDaily, and its something they must do to protect California revenue, American jobs, and poker player interests, he says. At least Duke and Negreanu seem back on the same team, having both signed the initial letter and both tweeting to help get thousands of signatures for the PPA in just a couple days. Duke hints at plans for a boycott.

Bike, other California casinos lock step with Commerce
In what’s becoming an increasingly hostile back and forth, the PPA appears to be winning the PR battle, now with more than 6,000 signatures and countless tweets to Congress. The Commerce counters with even bigger numbers and a sign their side is growing, too. They mass-email a press release late Friday, announcing a unified front with other major California card rooms, including the Bicycle, Hawaiian Gardens, and Hollywood Park. These card rooms claim they collectively represent more than 20,000 California employees and handle $13.4 billion in wagers, all of which would be severely threatened by the Frank bill.

Industry Leaders Join Together with Commerce Casino in Opposing Frank Bill; “California Will Lose If Frank Bill Is Passed”

The letter suggests HR 2267 is too broad, and would be more acceptable if it tried to legalize poker-only, not all online gambling. It also says the Commerce welcomes the emails, but asks concerned players to use their new email address [email protected].

Boycott Commerce?
Twitter suggested lots of support for the idea, but few if any have thus far declared intent to cancel plans or skip the upcoming Commerce Hold’em Series, which kicks off Wednesday with a $500k Guarantee.

Harry Reid Voices Support for Online Poker-Only Legalization

Yeah for poker! But kick in nards for Big Casinos?

by , Aug 26, 2010 | 2:02 am

We’ve been saying for awhile how critical Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is for any regulated online gambling legislation to stand a chance at making its way into law. And despite non-denial denials from his office regarding plans for a forthcoming poker-only Senate bill, the Reno Gazette-Journal is reporting that Reid is now saying something more directly suggestive of his online poker intentions:

[Gaming] executives said Reid, D-Nev., told them he would support the legalization of online poker in the United States but drew the line there — he would not support any other form of online gaming — during an Aug. 16 meeting at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa [in Reno].

This falls in line with what Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) told the same paper earlier this month — that Reid’s position against online gambling had “softened dramatically” — after she and Nevada’s two other representatives made a serious push on Reid to support Barney Frank’s HR 2267. Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) are Frank bill co-sponsors, and Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) “cautiously supports” it.

The problem Reid’s supposedly running into now are non-Harrah’s B/M casinos in northern Nevada asserting online gambling is a threat to business and Nevada tourism … thereby costing the state jobs. And as outdated and arguably inaccurate as that argument is — we’ve heard it before, from the same Vegas ops and Indian tribes that now support online gambling — anything that opponents can spin against Reid as anti-jobs probably isn’t something the senator would want to risk heading into November, as he faces a statewide election in the state with the highest unemployment in the nation. At a minimum, wading into such waters would require a lot more money for internet ads to smear Sharron Angle out of contention.


Hedging Bets on Capitol Hill

How we got rid of the NFL

by , Aug 12, 2010 | 8:00 am

We just learned the NFL is backing off its long-held opposition to online gambling — removing a major obstacle from HR 2267’s path to becoming law.

It was the King-Meeks amendment that assured the league the bill would exclude sports betting. One key supporters of this measure was John Campbell, a decidedly right-wing Republican from California who, incidentally, wrote the amendment that calls for a “blacklist” of “unlawful internet gambling enterprises”.

Photo special for Pokerati © James Berglie / BePhotography
Rep. John Campbell supports the rights of Americans to gamble online, so long as they can’t bet on football.

The effort to remove sports betting gives insight into the process of converting undecideds into supporters, as seen in the video below. Just a week earlier, Campbell had told the House Financial Services Committee, “You know I don’t gamble, and I don’t particularly like it; but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do and making illegal what I don’t.”

But as it became clear during markup that the NFL would be getting what they wanted and sports bettors would not, Barney Frank, who believes all forms of online gambling deserve the consumer protections HR 2267 advocates, couldn’t resist posing a somewhat humorous, if not uncomfortable question to his colleague from across the aisle:

With both the Campbell and King-Meeks amendments passing by voice vote, later that day Campbell signed on as the 70th cosponsor (and fourth Republican) willing to align themselves with online gambling.

McDermott: “It’s very very likely” Online Gambling Bill Will Pass in 2010

by , Aug 10, 2010 | 6:02 am

Also from Gambling Compliance … This may be kinda old news now, but something else GC made available for all us poker plebes is their July interview with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), sponsor of HR 2268, the legislation that lays out the structure for a new federal online gambling taxing machine, and the “companion bill” for Barney Frank’s HR 2267, which, of course, sets up the bureaucracy that poker players collectively have been clamoring for.

McDermott makes a cautious prediction starting at about 4:57, saying, “It is very very likely that this bill will pass” before the end of the year. He then explains how and why he believes online gambling supporters on the Hill can win over the necessary Congressfolk, “one Member at a time”:

This interview came before the HR 2267 mark-up hearing, where the bill moved forward with a bigger margin of bipartisan victory than expected … presumably made easier by the various amendments added by representatives from across the country and across the political spectrum.

Because you can’t have McDermott’s bill, 2268, without 2267 — and 2267 means little in terms of practical application without 2268 — they totally go together. But until the two are merged, this dual-bill process also creates additional spots for cutthroat backstabbing shenanigans parliamentary maneuvers across the aisle should some influential sort not like the way the bill is taking shape for their client/big-donor’s competitive interest. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works … but to borrow a phrase from McDermott, not gonna say 100 percent.

So … watch and see?

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.


Markup of HR 2267 airing now

by , | 7:26 am

Watch the markup hearing here

The markup hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee started shortly after 10am. The schedule is to discuss HR 2267 until 11am ET, then take a one-hour break. The Committee will return at 12pm for more discussion with a vote scheduled by 2pm ET.