The House of Representatives has commenced work on Bill HR 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 which consists of two Bills from Reps Goodlatte and Leach which seek to stop online gambling in the United States through financial restrictions and possible action against Internet Service Providers. Update: The anti-gambling bill has passed the house with an overwhelming 317 to 93 majority.
The Bill forms part of a fast tracked "American Values Agenda" of 10 pieces of largely unrelated legislation that the Republicans are trying to get through the House in a busy session.
Early complications to the proceedings could be amendments filed by Reps Conyers and Wexler that seek to remove all possible exemptions from the Bill, making all Internet gambling illegal. Whilst little comfort to the industry, such a Bill highlights the hypocrisy and double standards inherent in the Bill which makes some form of Internet betting illegal but not others. Rep. Conyers has previously presented Bills seeking to investigating Internet gambling before trying to ban it, a position which has also be en taken up by Rep. Jon Porter.
The Conyers / Wexler amendment says: "Amendment #3: Eliminates the exceptions to the bill's general prohibition against online gambling, thereby establishing a complete ban on all internet gambling-related activities." Wexler has previously failed to obtained exemptions for jai alai and dog racing.
In another, and more obscure amendment Rep. Tom Davis from Virginia is seeking to extend the financial restrictions in HR 4411 to an activity called "Amendment #1: Prohibits banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions from processing transactions relating to computer-assisted remote hunting."
Goodlatte himself has suggested an amendment that reads: "Amendment #2: Strengthens the age and location requirements in the bill by adding a requirement that the age and location requirements implemented by the States to comply with this legislation to assure that no minors bet online are accurate." This is presumably to muster more support from the fence sitting politicians who need more reassurance.
Bloombergs is among the many news reports on the Bill, and quotes Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, who said the legislation is an "inappropriate attempt" by some in Congress to regulate what people do on the Internet.
"In general, it seems to me, if people want to do it, we should let them,'' Frank said. "We are talking about criminalizing people's individual behavior because some of us disapprove of what they are doing.''
The Bloombergs report says the Bush administration supports the House legislation, as do U.S. professional sports leagues, including Major League Baseball and the National Football League, U.S. financial- services firms and 48 of 50 state attorneys general, according to Rep. Leach.
The bill leaves in place an exemption for U.S. horseracing, a provision that has drawn protests from dog-track and jai alai interests.
Representative John Conyers, an Illinois Democrat, has offered an amendment that would strip all exemptions out of the bill.
"This bill claims to ban all forms of online gambling, but it specifically exempts online betting on horseracing and state lotteries,'' Conyers said. The Republican authors of the bill oppose Conyers' amendment.