Another Analysis of the Goodlatte Bill

by Lou on March 10, 2006

I received an email from Joshua Gardner who works for Edelman Public Relations in Washington DC. He sent it in response to one of my recent blog posts about the Goodlatte bill. Because Gardner’s email is so informative, I’m going to post it here in its entirety.

I wanted to fill you in on some new information about the recent Internet Gambling Prohibition Acts that are kicking around in Congress. Republican U.S. Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Jim Leach have introduced bills to essentially make online gambling, even poker, illegal for American Citizens. More than 70 million Americans play poker, some 23 million online.

Here is a recap of why the legislation is the wrong way to go.

The bill deputizes private-sector entities, most notably banks, to monitor our transactions.
The Leach bill directs the Treasury Department to ensure banks do not process payment for Internet gambling transactions. With respect to credit cards, this is simple enough, as credit card transactions are coded. However, with respect to Automated Clearing House transactions and electronic funds transfers, those are not coded, but the Leach bill will force banks to go to great lengths to investigate what is and isn’t an Internet gambling transaction. This will take “Know Your Customer” to a new level.

The Goodlatte bill accomplishes the same thing, but in a different way. It creates authority for the Department of Justice to go to court and seek injunctions to make financial institutions and others block such transactions, but the practical effect will be the same.

Goodlatte prohibits hyper-linking to certain web sites.
Under Goodlatte, if a particular site is found to be hyper-linking to an Internet gambling site, the ISP hosting that site is subject to notice-and-takedown requirements, presumably even if the link came through an ad server.

Goodlatte would take resources away from more important law enforcement missions such as stopping pornography and fighting terrorism and focus them on breaking up poker games.
Goodlatte wants to spend $10 million to enforce his bill’s provisions, but neglects to offer a way to get the money. There are limited funds available to Justice Department crime fighters. Do we really want to spend those resources on breaking up poker games?

Goodlatte bill’s is hypocritical in that it legalizes bets that DOJ considers illegal today under the patina of Internet gambling prohibition.
Goodlatte legalizes Interstate Internet horse bets that DOJ considers illegal today; the horse industry has consistently supported Goodlatte’s bills and have given generously to his campaign. The bill also affirmatively legalizes intra-state Internet wagers for commercial casinos, and other state-licensed entities. The bill isn’t really an Internet gambling prohibition act; it’s an Internet gambling industrial policy act.

Joshua Gardner

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