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 which makes 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 based on that definition. Goodlatte hopes to amend that by expanding the Code to add all kinds of electronic transmission, as well as to add all forms 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.
In accordance with 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 for you 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 will simply drive it underground. If online gambling is outlawed then the government will lose its power to legislate online gambling policy and police it’s dangers, as well as its power to tax the transactions. Goodlatte’s bill is going to do precisely the opposite of what it wants to do.”
As of July 2005, based on 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 came 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 will soon be out of luck. “It’s amazing in my experience that bill may just pass quietly with minimum 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.”