SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER STILL GOING FOR ONLINE GAMBLING BAN
8 September 2006
But no guarantees that the proposal will be debated before Congress adjourns late September
Fresh from his rather one-sided field examination of the proposed U.S. online gambling ban in Iowa, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist remains keen to push the proposal through the Senate. But the politician offers no guarantee that it will succeed.
In a Reuters report this week, Frist aides were quoted as saying that the Senator is still trying to find a way to pass a bill to outlaw most forms of Internet gambling, but offered no guarantee a deal could be struck before lawmakers recess at the end of September.
The new service reports that Frist would like to bring up the bill under unanimous consent, a process by which leaders from both parties agree to bring a bill to a vote on the Senate floor.
But outwardly there has been little movement on the bill. A similar version has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but efforts to move the Senate bill ran into opposition earlier in the summer from lobbyists representing land casino owners and horse- and dog-racing interests.
The bill would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites.
The Republican-backed measure has been criticised by some as an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base. Frist, of Tennessee, is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate. Last week, Frist appeared at a congressional field hearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - the state that holds the first presidential nominating contest in 2008 - to hear concerns about Internet gambling.
Supporters of a crackdown on Internet gambling say legislation is needed to clarify that a 1961 federal law banning interstate telephone betting also covers an array of online gambling.
However, congressional aides have said some Republican senators have placed holds on the bill, and that Democratic senators may eventually do so as well depending on how talks proceed. Any member of the Senate may place a secret "hold" on legislation, which prevents it from being brought up for a vote until concerns about the measure are resolved.
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