The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada's largest daily newspaper, on Saturday published an editorial that strongly repudiates efforts to ban Internet gambling. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.
) and 112 co-sponsors on Thursday reintroduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would outlaw the activity, currently a $12 billion a year industry. Additionally, Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl has indicated he plans to continue his push in the Senate to ban Internet gambling. The legislation would update the U.S. Wire Act of 1961, which forbids the use of telephone lines to place interstate bets, to include Internet technology.
A similar bill that would ban the use of credit cards and electronic fund transfers to pay for Internet gambling was introduced by Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa). Both bills have substantial support in Congress and there are indications that some incarnation will become law before the end of the year. Internet users today can gamble on every casino game imagineable, as well as sports, horse racing, politics and various types of entertainment. Although Nevada's casino industry has remained neutral on Goodlatte's past efforts, current indications are it would oppose a future ban.
"There is no question that a number of our board members think the technology is there to effectively regulate Internet gambling," Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, told the Stephens Media Group's Washington bureau. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has been under extreme media scrutiny in recent months, opposed Goodlatte's bill because it would have negatively affected one of his clients, who was trying to establish an online company that sold state lottery tickets. Abramoff collaborated with a top aide to then House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, treating him to luxury trips, among other things, in an effort to kill Goodlatte's legislation. The libertarian Review-Journal noted in its editorial that many lawmakers have staunchly conservative constituents who frown upon further spread of legalized gambling, so their inclination is to totally ban it. "The last thing Americans need today," the newspaper said, "is a regulatory presence on the Internet or federal snooping on individual financial transactions.
"Any ban on Internet gambling has misguided intentions and even worse consequences." .
By: Lynda Collins