House Passes Internet Gaming Bill

by Lou on July 12, 2006

The U.S. House passed H.R. 4411 in a 317 to 93 vote. The bill, sponsored by Jim Leach, R-IA, prohibits banks and credit card companies from processing payments for online gambling bets and includes portions of Bob Goodlatte’s HR 4777, R-VA. The Goodlatte provisions will mandate force Internet Service Providers to block access or disable hyperlinks to Web sites that offer online gaming.

The legislation has a cutout that exempts wagering on horseracing over the internet, as well as betting on online lotteries, and some fantasy sports. Although poker is clearly a game of skill — not just a random gamble — it is prohibited under this bill.

Leach’s bill also plays into an international tgrade dispute between the U.S. and Antigua that has been going on for a few years now. “I’m very surprised and quite disappointed that the U.S. Congress would be pushing full force ahead,” said Antigua Finance Minister Errol Cort.

The dispute that’s flared up between the U.S. and the small Caribbean nation centers around the United State’s unwillingness to drop prohibitions on Americans placing bets in online casinos. Antigua is waiting for a World Trade Organization tribunal to see if the U.S. has complied with the trade group’s ruling.

The United States contends that Internet gambling should be prohibited because it violates some U.S. state laws. Antigua contends that if some forms of Internet gambling, such as horseracing, are kosher, all forms of online gaming ought to be OK.

This bill is not law yet. It still has to clear the Senate, which might not happen. If the bill becomes law the enforcement cycle will begin, and along with it, the cat and mouse games. While it will prove difficult for the US to make the provisions of this bill a reality, the United States will permanently lose all chance of regaining the economic advantage that the Brits have by virtue of their decision to legalize, regulate, and tax this industry.

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