Online Wagering Under Attack in Congress

inthedesert

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Online Wagering Under Attack in Congress
Jul 10 3:02 PM US/Eastern
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By NANCY ZUCKERBROD
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON

Gamblers who prefer their laptops to blackjack tables won't like what Congress is doing. On Tuesday, the House plans to vote on a bill that would ban credit cards for paying online bets and could padlock gambling Web sites.

The legislation would clarify existing law to spell out that it is illegal to gamble online.

To enforce that ban, the bill would prohibit credit cards and other payment forms, such as electronic transfers, from being used to settle online wagers. It also would give law enforcement officials the authority to work with Internet providers to block access to gambling Web sites.

Some opponents of the legislation say policing the Internet is impossible, that it would be better to regulate the $12 billion industry and collect taxes from it. The online gambling industry is based almost entirely outside the United States, though about half its customers live in the U.S.

Other critics complain that the bill doesn't cover all forms of gambling. They point to exemptions they say would allow online lotteries and Internet betting on horse racing to flourish.

"If you're going to support legislation that is supposed to 'prohibit gambling,' you should not have carve-outs," said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the conservative Traditional Values Coalition.

Other conservative and antigambling groups are supporting the legislation, sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jim Leach, R-Iowa.

John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue, calls the Internet "the crack cocaine" of gambling.

"There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," he said.

Congress has considered similar bills several times before. In 2000, disgraced lobbyist Jack Ambramoff led a fierce campaign against it on behalf of an online lottery company.

Online lotteries are allowed in the latest bill, largely at the behest of states that increasingly rely on lotteries to augment tax revenues.

Pro-sports leagues also like the bill, arguing that Web wagering could hurt the integrity of their sports.

The horse racing industry also supports the bill because of the exemption it would get. Horse racing states would not be prohibited from any activity allowed under the Internet Horseracing Act. That law written in the 1970s set up rules for interstate betting on racing. It was updated a few years ago to clarify that betting on horse racing over the Internet is allowed.

Greg Avioli, chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the mention of horse racing in the bill is "a recognition of existing federal law," not a new carve-out.

He said the racing industry has a strong future in the digital age and acknowledged the bill would send Internet gamblers to racing sites. "They'd return to the one place they can bet legally," Avioli said.

That's what some critics say is unfair.

"Somehow we find ourselves in a situation where Congress has gotten in the business of cherry-picking types of gambling," complained Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. Wexler had tried unsuccessfully to include exemptions for dog racing and jai alai, both popular in Florida.

The Justice Department has taken a different view on the legality of Internet betting on horse races. In a World Trade Organization case involving Antigua, the department said online betting on horse racing remains illegal under the 1961 Wire Act despite the existence of the more recently passed Interstate Horseracing Act.

The department hasn't actively enforced its stance, but observers say it is possible the agency and the racing industry could face off in court in the future.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is leading support for the ban in the Senate. The issue has so far not been debated in that chamber this year.

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The bill is H.R.4411

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Linus

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To enforce that ban, the bill would prohibit credit cards and other payment forms, such as electronic transfers, from being used to settle online wagers. It also would give law enforcement officials the authority to work with Internet providers to block access to gambling Web sites.

Credit cards are already off-limits to Americans, and Neteller is based outside the US. The casinos are already offshore, and American laws make little difference to them. Somebody with some technical know-how may contradict me, but my understanding is going after ISPs one-at-a-time with injunctions is the equivalent of sweeping the ocean back with a broom.

Legally, though, the bill makes little difference to punters. It'll be just as legal after the bill, as it was before. The only difference will be, perhaps, greater awareness of the legal status of internet gambling.
 

winbig

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Linus said:
Credit cards are already off-limits to Americans, and Neteller is based outside the US. The casinos are already offshore, and American laws make little difference to them. Somebody with some technical know-how may contradict me, but my understanding is going after ISPs one-at-a-time with injunctions is the equivalent of sweeping the ocean back with a broom.

Legally, though, the bill makes little difference to punters. It'll be just as legal after the bill, as it was before. The only difference will be, perhaps, greater awareness of the legal status of internet gambling.

Yea, I can't believe the fact that you can buy lottery tickets online, but yet you can't gamble on other stuff online..(if they pass this)

I'm hoping ISP's will fight tooth and nail, as well as other people against this bill, for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.
 

pacers31

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yeah, but Linus neteller and the web wallets are funded out of checking accounts and it is my understanding that they will go after the electronic transfers and shut those down. Do you think they could effectively block neteller, etc, in this way? I suppose neteller could bill itself as something other than a gambling facilitator, I just don't know how this is going to work out for us in the states. The real danger as you point out is the blocking of ISPs. It won't matter how you fund them if you can't get to the sites to play in the first place. Let's hope some other issue gets dragged out and there won't be time for it this session. Hurry November, we need a drastic change in congress!!
 

inthedesert

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Congress Debates Ban on Internet Gambling
Jul 11 12:25 PM US/Eastern
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By NANCY ZUCKERBROD
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON

Internet gambling is addictive, dangerous and should be outlawed, lawmakers argued Tuesday as the House took up a bill to prevent people from using credit cards or other payment forms to settle online wagers.

"The ease of Internet gambling poses a very serious threat to our families and our society," Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., said in support of the bill.

The legislation would clarify existing law by declaring Internet gambling illegal. It would cut off payments to betting Web sites and would allow authorities to work with Internet providers to block access to gambling Web sites.

Osborne and other bill supporters contend that it's too easy for online betters to lose money and to become addicted. Critics say policing the Internet is impossible and that it would be better to regulate the $12 billion industry and collect taxes on it.

The American Gaming Association, the industry's largest lobby, has opposed online gambling in the past but recently backed a study of the feasibility of regulating it.

The Internet gambling industry is headquartered almost entirely outside the United States, though about half its customers live in the U.S.

The House is scheduled to vote later in the day on the bill, sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jim Leach, R-Iowa. Some of the debate focused on whether the bill would truly amount to a ban.

Critics point to exemptions that they say would allow online lotteries and Internet betting on horse racing to flourish while cracking down on other kinds of sports betting, casino games and card games like poker.

"Hypocrisy is certainly rampant here in the house today," Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said.

Under the provision that relates to horse racing, betting operators would not be prohibited from any activity allowed under the Interstate Horseracing Act. That law was written in the 1970s to set up rules for interstate betting on racing. The industry successfully lobbied for legislation several years ago to clarify that horse racing over the Internet is allowed.

Greg Avioli, chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the mention of horse racing in the bill is "a recognition of existing federal law," not a new exemption.

Avioli said the racing industry has a strong future in the digital age and acknowledged that the bill would send Internet gamblers to racing sites. "They'd return to the one place they can bet legally," he said.

The Justice Department has taken a different view on the legality of Internet betting on horse races. In a World Trade Organization case involving Antigua, the department said online betting on horse racing remains illegal under the 1961 Wire Act despite the existence of the more recently passed, and updated, Interstate Horseracing Act.

The department hasn't actively enforced its stance, but observers say it is possible that the agency and the racing industry could face off in court in the future.

Like the racing industry, professional sports leagues also like the bill. They argue that Web wagering could hurt the integrity of their sports.

Many conservatives back the bill on moral grounds, arguing that Internet betting is harmful to society.

John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue, calls the Internet "the crack cocaine" of gambling.

"There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," he said.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is leading support for the ban in the Senate. The issue has not been debated in that chamber this year, and the measure hasn't been identified by Senate leaders as a top priority.

If the horse provision were stricken from the bill, there's a good chance the measure would run into objections from Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and others from racing states.

___

The bill is H.R.4411

___

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