Two Anti-gambling Bills Combined into One

by Lou on July 8, 2006

Two anti-gambling bills combined into one
Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa) combined their Internet anti-gambling legislation into one bill and are looking forward to a full floor debate, perhaps as early as next week.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411) aims at cutting the flow of money from U.S. gamblers to offshore Internet gambling sites. Payment systems and financial intermediaries used to fund online gaming accounts would face criminal penalties for completing a transaction to an offshore gambling site if this bill were to be enacted.

The bill requires that procedures be put in place to block transactions to offshore gambling sites, and will also expand the scope of the Wire Act — which now bans sports betting via telephone — to cover poker and other forms of Internet gambling.

Leach and Goodlatte, both longtime foes of Internet gambling, introduced anti-gambling measures in the past, but none have been enacted into law.

Congressman Goodlatte’s assertions are dead wrong
“Gambling on the Internet has become an extremely lucrative business,” Goodlatte said. “These offshore, fly-by-night Internet gambling operators are unlicensed, untaxed and unregulated and are sucking billions of dollars out of the United States.”

Not really! Most of the online poker sites are big business. Many online gaming sites are publicly held corporations trading on the London Exchange. The only reason they are “…sucking billions of dollars out of the United States” is that they are not legal here. All that’s needed to keep those jobs and capital on our shores, and to raise tax revenues in the process is to legalize, regulate and tax online gaming, much as Britain has done.

The banking industry is not happy about this bill
The banking industry isn’t very happy with this bill. “The added burden of monitoring all payment transactions for the taint of Internet gambling will drain finite resources currently engaged in complying with anti-terrorism, anti-money laundering regulations and the daily operation of our bank,” Samuel Vallandingham of the Independent Banks of America told lawmakers at hearings held earlier this year.

Vallandingham asked whether legislation would “efficiently regulate the targeted behavior at a level which will justify the time and expense required by community banks to comply with another level of regulation.”

American Gaming Association’s plans are doomed for this year
The American Gaming Association also called for a congressional study to determine the feasibility of perhaps regulating online gambling, much as Nevada and other states oversee rules for brick-and-mortar casinos. Nevada Reps. Jon Porter, a Republican, and Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, joined forces this spring to introduce legislation establishing a study commission.

But their objective is doomed this session now that House Republicans have made anti-gambling legislation part of their conservative.

David Stewart, an attorney representing the American Gaming Association said casinos plan to watch this unfold, then figure out their next move. If Internet gambling legislation is not approved this year, Porter and Berkley would “be in fine shape to go forward” with their push for a study, Stewart said.

Antigua pushes the World Trade Organization to find the US guilty of trade violations
While all this is going on, supporters of online gaming are also looking to the World Trade, where the small Caribbean nation of Antigua is pressing its claim that the United States is violating trade agreements by trying to block access to online gambling.

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