A Republican Sweep Might Not Stop Online Gambling

Many analysts and pollsters are predicting a Republican sweep of the coming midterm elections in the House. While Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) seems untouchable, there are no guarantees and in fact, some claim that his challenger, 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Sean Bielat, is just a few points behind Frank in polling data.

The end of Congressman Barney Frank would very likely be the end of his bill, HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, which he has championed (through several incarnations and sessions).

While some advocates of decriminalized Internet gambling fear that the loss of its main champion will kill any possibility of legalization in the next session, their fears may not be warranted.

Last week Chris Krueger,  political strategy analyst with Concept Capital, appeared on CNBC and had this to say about the odds of decriminalizing Net gambling in the wake of a Republican sweep (video available here):

Keep in mind with Internet gaming there’s this pretty decent shot I think that in a lame duck session assuming the democrats lose both the house and senate Barney Frank this could really be his last chance he’s the primary sponsor of this bill. The trump card for Internet gaming for lack of a better word is that it raises 42 billion dollars over 10 years. That’s a big offset that you can tack onto an expensive tax extenders bill or even some sort of a transportation bill…

So in the lame duck with a Republican sweep the odds would go up that an Internet gaming ban lift could get through. Next year though without Barney Frank in his position of leadership I think it faces some long odds. But again it raises 42 billion dollars over 10 years and you can’t discount that in a congress that’s really going to be starved for revenue raisers.

So, while legalization of Internet gambling may still have a shot in a Republican-controlled House and Senate, I doubt that the version we would see would be any more free market than Barney Frank’s current bill. Most likely, it will look something like decriminalized alcohol sales after prohibition with the government retaining a death-grip on the neck of the industry for as long as it can.