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 may amend the sooner Title 18 of the United States Code containing the Federal Wire Act passed in 1961. The Wire Act outlawed telephone betting by making it illegal to put bets by “wire transmission.”
The explosion of Internet poker rooms and sports books lately was possible only as a result of the ambiguity surrounding the meaning of “wire” ;.While opponents of Internet gambling insisted that the meaning included cable, satellite, and cellular technology, no court would uphold a conviction predicated on that definition. Goodlatte hopes to amend that by expanding the Code to include all types of electronic transmission, in addition to to include all kinds of bets.
Earlier attempts to pass the legislation were thwarted vegus168 by the lobbying efforts of Jack Abramoff, based on 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 a vehicle for the money laundering,” stated Goodlatte. “It’s time and energy to shine a brilliant light on these illegal sites and bring an instant 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 will simply drive it underground. If online gambling is outlawed then the government will lose its capability to legislate online gambling policy and police it’s dangers, not forgetting its capability to tax the transactions. Goodlatte’s bill can do exactly the opposite of what it really wants to do.”
At the time of July 2005, based on Forrester polls, there were over 300,000 gambling websites entertaining over 7,000,000 online gamblers. While the majority of traffic to these websites initially originated from the United States, that number is currently around 40% as players are attracted from all over 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 is going to be out of luck. “It’s amazing if you ask me this bill just might pass quietly with little if any resistance.” says Catlett. “Anybody who enjoys gambling online really should write their State Representative to let them know why this bill shouldn’t go through.”