K Street Files: Game On

Posted December 1, 2009 at 4:06pm

In the wake of House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) decision to hold an online-gaming hearing today, lobbyists for Internet gambling interests are working overtime to get Congress to enact new legislation that would reverse an online-gaming ban.

[IMGCAP(1)]Frank’s move comes as the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve delayed enacting regulations designed to ban Internet gambling by six months. The rules, which were slated to take effect Tuesday, have been put off until June 1, 2010.

The rules would prohibit banks and other financial institutions from accepting credit card payments or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers.

The Poker Players Alliance, National Thoroughbred Racing Association and American Greyhound Track Operators Association had sent the agencies a petition asking for a one-year delay.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, said the groups are pushing for Congress to act before June.

“There is a silver lining in that [the agencies] lessened the time frame and put the onus back on Congress to correct this misguided law,— Pappas said.

Pappas said his group is most concerned with the vagueness of the law and would like clarification of what types of online gambling are not subject to the new rules.

This isn’t the first time Frank has tried to reverse the gambling ban. In 2007, he introduced a bill that would have blocked the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act from going into effect.

Frank’s efforts were stopped short in the Financial Services Committee, where the National Football League lobbied against removing the ban largely for business reasons, while the Christian Coalition lobbied against the Frank bill on mostly ethical grounds.

“Obviously the hearing is a huge step in the process,— Pappas said. “We don’t want to wait around for the 11th hour to push legislation. We think we need to have legislation moving in process as soon as possible.—

Michael Brodsky, executive chairman of Youbet.com, said his message to Congress is that Internet gambling can be safely regulated with technology. His company works with legal Internet horse-racing gambling.

“Everyone acknowledges that [illegal online] gambling is pervasive,— said Brodsky, who is slated to testify before the Financial Services panel today. “We need to use the technology to track and regulate it.—

Cashing In on the Holidays. Will it be coal or campaign contributions for Members of Congress this year? Several lawmakers are trying to take advantage of the seasonal spirit to persuade K Streeters to open their checkbooks, according to recent campaign committee fundraising lists.

Lawmakers hoping to pull in checks include Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who is being feted tonight at a holiday reception at the Associated General Contractors of America’s Capitol Hill headquarters. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), along with special guest House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), is also getting in the spirit with a holiday wine tasting at the Capitol Hill Club on Thursday.

Reps. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) and Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) are also chiming in with events on Dec. 9.

Not to be outdone, Democrats are hosting a series of December soirees, including a holiday reception for Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) on Dec. 8. Michaud is old hat at passing around his hat during the holidays — this is his fifth annual “Maine Christmas in Washington— event. Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) is also getting in on the action with a fundraiser and reception the same night.

Decking the Halls. It’s not all economic doom and gloom for K Streeters this holiday season. Several firms and associations are continuing the tradition of throwing a holiday party before Congress goes out of town.

The Financial Services Roundtable kicked off the December festivities Tuesday with a holiday reception. Always a fixture of the circuit, American Defense International is slated to host its annual December fete tonight at Hotel George.

If lobbyists haven’t had enough partying, Jim Courtovich, managing partner of Kearsarge Global Advisors, is hosting his annual Gaucho Christmas Party on Saturday.

Quinn Gillespie & Associates is also on the party scene, opting to move its annual party to the swanky W Hotel on Dec. 8. So, too, are the Brunswick Group’s Hilary Rosen, David Shapiro, David Sutphen and Michele Davis. The firm’s event is also Dec. 8 at Georgetown club L2.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is continuing its tradition of hosting a holiday party, albeit a less fancy shindig to comply with ethics rules, on Dec. 10.

K Street Moves. Ketchum Public Affairs has brought on Donald Foley. Foley, who joins as a director of North American public affairs, has worked at several firms, including Powell Tate and Prism Public Affairs.

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