BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A bill to end a ban imposed last year on online gambling in the United States will be presented within two weeks but will likely need time to garner support, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank said on Thursday.
Internet gambling in the United States was effectively banned last October when President George W. Bush signed legislation outlawing gaming financial transactions.
“I want to get it undone,” Frank told reporters.
Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, is chair of the House Financial Services Committee.
The ban irked some in the European Union which is home to online gambling firms that were forced to withdraw from the United States.
The bloc’s internal market chief Charlie McCreevy has hinted he may challenge the ban at the World Trade Organisation.
Last month the WTO said the ban violated international trade law as it still allowed online bets for horse racing.
Frank, who held talks with McCreevy during his visit to Europe, said the bill will be introduced or registered within a couple of weeks to test the level of support.
“I think a reconsideration among my colleagues is beginning but it’s not far enough along yet,” Frank said. “If the storm of public unhappiness is great enough then I will try to substantially revise that ban.”
Poker players were lobbying for an exemption from the ban just for their game but Frank was “unpersuaded”.
“I am not going to draw a distinction between poker and blackjack,” Frank said.
He said no major progress on the bill was likely soon.
The ban has hammered the stocks of online gambling companies such as Britain’s PartyGaming Plc, but Frank said he may not be able to tackle the whole online gambling issue.
“My committee only has jurisdiction over credit cards. I can’t do more than repeal the ban on the use of credit cards. We don’t have jurisdiction generally over the Internet or other aspects of this,” Frank said.
The U.S. bill forbids credit card firms in the United States from taking money for bets on online sites.
The Caribbean states, and not the EU, were the major complainants about the ban, he added.