House seen debating gambling bill NEXT WEEK

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Nov 1, 2005
Damian Dunlap posted this at Online Players Union...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The full U.S. House of Representatives is expected to debate next week legislation that would attempt to ban Internet gambling, a $12 billion-a-year industry that gets half its revenue from American gamblers, two Republican lawmakers said on Thursday.

The legislation to be debated blends two versions of bills that have been offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (news, bio, voting record) of Virginia and Rep. Jim Leach (news, bio, voting record) of Iowa, the two said in a statement.
Leach's bill has been approved by both the House Financial Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. It has broad support among conservative and religious activist groups, who want to keep gambling out of easy reach of minors.

The anti-gambling bill is expected to be debated by the full House as early as Wednesday, a legislative aide said.

However, it remains unclear whether the Senate will pass similar legislation as Congress scrambles to finish its work before the November general elections. Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record) has introduced a bill similar to Leach's House bill but it has languished in the Senate.

Investors in some British-based gaming companies such as Party Gaming Plc and 888 Holdings have closely monitored U.S. legislation.

Although the U.S. Justice Department says a 1961 law that forbids interstate telephone betting also applies to the Internet, the House lawmakers say their legislation would clarify that point for prosecutors. It would also prohibit gambling businesses from settling Internet wagers with credit cards, checks or fund transfers.

"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."

An estimated 2,300 gambling sites now exist on the Internet, the lawmakers said.

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