On the 15th of February US Congressman from Virginia Bob Goodlatte reintroduced HR 4777, the “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.” Goodlatte hopes to pass the bill, that will amend the earlier Title 18 of the United States Code containing the Federal Wire Act passed in 1961. The Wire Act outlawed telephone betting by which makes it illegal to put bets by “wire transmission.”
The explosion of Internet poker rooms and sports books recently was possible only consequently of the ambiguity surrounding the definition of “wire” ;.While opponents of Internet gambling insisted that the meaning included cable, satellite, and cellular technology, no court would uphold a conviction based on that definition. Goodlatte hopes to amend that by expanding the Code to incorporate all kinds of electronic transmission, as well as to incorporate all types of bets.
Earlier attempts to pass the legislation were thwarted vegus168 by the lobbying efforts of Jack Abramoff, in accordance with Gooodlatte’s office. But Abramoff’s recent guilty pleas to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials have added political capital to Goodlatte’s campaign.
According to Goodlatte “Illegal online gambling doesn’t just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serve as an automobile for cash laundering,” stated Goodlatte. “It’s time and energy to shine a bright light on these illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet.”
“But outlawing online gambling won’t stop the activity.” says Will Catlett of Sportsbettingscams.org, an industry watchdog site. “It is only going to drive it underground. If online gambling is outlawed then a government will miss its capability to legislate online gambling policy and police it’s dangers, and of course its capability to tax the transactions. Goodlatte’s bill will do the opposite of what it really wants to do.”
As of July 2005, in accordance with Forrester polls, there were over 300,000 gambling websites entertaining over 7,000,000 online gamblers. While the bulk of traffic to these websites initially originated from the United States, that number is currently around 40% as players are attracted from throughout the world. If the bill is passed, the will shrink dramatically, and shift its focus to other nations. Meanwhile, online gamblers in the United States will soon be out of luck. “It’s amazing to me that bill may just pass quietly with little or no resistance.” says Catlett. “Anybody who enjoys gambling online should write their State Representative to let them know why this bill shouldn’t go through.”