July 11, 2006 1:13 PM PDT

House votes yes on Net-gambling crackdown

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to restrict Internet gambling, a move Republicans hope will boost their popularity before the November election.

By a vote of 317 to 93, politicians approved a controversial bill that tries to eliminate many forms of online gambling by targeting Internet service providers and financial intermediaries, namely banks and credit card companies that process payments to offshore Web sites.

Net gambling "is a scourge on our society," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who's tried for the better part of a decade to enact legislation that combats Net gambling.

During the floor debate, which lasted about four hours, supporters of the measure warned of the growing popularity of wireless devices and said Congress needed to enact restrictions now. One estimate puts revenues from Internet gambling at more than $10 billion a year.

"Gamblers will be able to place bets not just from their home computers, but also from their cell phones as they drive to work and from their BlackBerrys when they wait in line for the movies," said Rep. Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act would clarify that federal law prohibits processing financial transactions related to "unlawful" online gambling. In addition, it would in some cases force Internet service providers to block access to offshore gambling sites.

Tuesday's vote on the bill, which most House Democrats opposed and nearly all Republicans endorsed, is designed to target offshore Web sites that go by names like BetBug of Toronto; BetWWTS.com of Antigua; Bodog Sportsbook, Casino and Poker of Costa Rica; and Betfair, which has offices in London.

It's also intended to aid the political fortunes of Republicans who are worried about losing control of the House of Representatives in the November election. Last month, House Republican leaders announced that the bill would be part of a 10-part "American Values Agenda," along with a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage and further restrictions on stem cell research.

While some Democrats supported the measure, most criticized it as unnecessary and riddled with loopholes. One section of the bill, for instance, indicates that betting on horse racing will remain legal. (The National Thoroughbred Racing Association said in an earlier statement that its members can "continue to conduct interstate, account and Internet wagering.")

Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, called it a "loophole as big as a barn door" and said lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials, would be proud. Abramoff's plea agreement says he offered illegal bribes relating to "stopping legislation regarding Internet gambling."

At one point, Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat from Nevada, offered an amendment that would have eliminated what she called the "hypocritical exemption" by flatly banning all forms of Internet gambling. It failed by a vote of 114 to 297.

Goodlatte and has allies have tried to ban Net gambling before, with votes on early legislative efforts as far back as 1997. The House of Representatives even approved a very similar bill in June 2003--but the Senate failed to act.

That could happen again. Senators have not made a priority of enacting Net-gambling restrictions this year, and not much time is left in the congressional session because politicians hope to leave town early to campaign in the November election.

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17 comments

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Here comes the "War on Gambling"
In typical fashion, this Congress claims to take the moral high
ground in its attempt to end the "scourge on our society" .

But wait, is this also a call to end horse-betting or lottery
drawings? No, in typical HYPOCRITICAL FASHION, Congress'
"high ground" is based on what the lobbyist for that group has
done for them lately.

I'm trying to determine what business it is of this Congress (or
any State agency) to declare such activity illegal. Prohibition has
FAILED over and over to accomplish anything other than create
more criminals from previously law-abiding citizens.

How many more attempts to invade personal lives are we going
to allow? This Congress feels it is their "duty" to intrude on the
personal lives of every American, be it birth control, death,
bedroom activities, coupling, or how you spend what little
money they now let you keep.

Ironically, the Republicas seem to be the BIGGEST PROMOTER of
BIG GOVERNMENT these days.
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Horses and Lottery Okay?
I think it's pretty easy to see that horses and lottery would be fine. Lottery is heavily taxed and controlled state-by-state. As for race horses, I wouldn't be surprised if a number of our fair Republician's own or are part-owners in a throughbred or two.
Posted by mizellie (2 comments )
Link Flag
Here comes the WAR ON GAMBLING
(and other issues deemed unwholesome by some)

In typical fashion, this Congress claims to take the moral high
ground in its attempt to end the "scourge on our society" .

But wait, is this also a call to end horse-betting or lottery
drawings? No, in true HYPOCRITICAL FASHION, Congress'
"high ground" is based on what the lobbyist for that group has
done for them lately.

What business it is of this Congress (or any State agency) to
declare such activity outright illegal. Prohibition has FAILED over
and over again (be it alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling) to
accomplish anything other than create more criminals from
previously law-abiding citizens.

How many more attempts to invade personal lives are we going
to allow? This Congress feels it is their "duty" to intrude on the
personal lives of every American, be it birth control, death,
bedroom activities, coupling, or how you spend what little
money they now let you keep.

Ironically, the Republicans seem to be the BIGGEST PROMOTER
of BIG GOVERNMENT these days.
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Two words: Fat. Chance.
This little Internet thing is a bit more complex than that. Unless the US gov't is willing to monitor everyone's credit card usage and put up a national firewall of at least the size and complexity of China's? Pfft! This has about as much a chance of stopping online gambling as I would of drinking the entire output of a turbine outlet tunnel at Hoover Dam.

Sorry folks, but technology be damned, this has about as much of a chance of stopping gambling online as sodomy laws have of stopping, well... you know.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Payment restriction possible
The only real way they can restrict online gaming transactions is to block ALL foreign transactions. As it stands now, most US credit card institutions block gaming class transactions on Visa/MC. Some even go further and block any type of foreign financial transactions. I don't see them stopping Neteller transactions or any of the other credit card alternatives for playing. I think they should rethink this and stop playing politics. Just create a regulated online gaming environment like the UK has and issue licenses for trusted gaming companies in the US and abroad. Regulate it, tax it, and make it safe. Everyone's happy.
Posted by farookh20000 (8 comments )
Link Flag
Fat Chance? uhhh think again..
..you see, this isn't about addressing the hoards of internet gamblers by going after them, or looking into their card activity...it's about going after the financial institutions that back the transactions. And that's quite easy to do. You see, none of them can run and hide from the law, and won't even consider risking it for the small percentage of their overall card traffic.
Use to be a time when the gov looked the other way when the gambling sites discovered Cayman islands, Costa Rica, etc...but no more. Now they can track everything. A friend of mine operated such a site with an offshore acct/server..no more. He had to search far and wide for a new card co. that would take the transactions, finally it put him out of business. ..the bell tolls. The question is, how much time do we have left.
Posted by jbmedia123 (1 comment )
Link Flag
GOV Your BS Stinks!!
"One section of the bill, for instance, indicates that betting on horse racing will remain legal."

What the hell is that smell!?!?! Oh yea.. its the U.S Government acting like a rat again...
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But state lotteries & casinos are good right?
They are just trying to make news. Why not stop approving more damn casios everywhere? Native American Owned or Not.

Kieran Mullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Passing 317 to 93 is "controversial"?
Seems like a bill is only "controversial" if some Democrats are against it...

If it passed 317 to 93, it doesn't sound all that controversial to me. It just sounds like a lot of hot air was blown by the Democrats but then they ended up voting for it. Typical DemocRAT hypocrites.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another case of Big Brother
Just what we need, the government trying to protect us from
ourselves. Whatever became of personal responsibility?

What different from some idiot losing his money playing poker
online and the same idiot losing his money on a state lottery?
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It depends
The main difference is that with a lottery, the idiot should expect over the long term to get back perhaps half of what he bet. Typically zero, possibly huge, but on average, maybe half.

The typical idiot then takes whatever he gets back, and pumps that back into the lottery and keeps doing so until he loses it all or hits a jackpot. Guess which is more likely....

An idiot at poker can expect to get back perhaps 80-90% of what he bets, but again he will cycle though it over and over until it is gone or it is time to go make the donuts.

A genius at poker, however, actually gets back perhaps 110% of every dollar he bets, on average. The longer he plays, the more he makes. Essentially, it's an hourly wage for a given player in a given type of game....albeit a wage that varies widely....but with a properly sized bankroll the variations don't matter and it truly equates to an hourly wage. In other words, A NORMAL, REAL JOB.

This is why there are some very successful fulltime professional poker players earning a HUGE income every year, others earning incomes of ALL DIFFERENT but predictable sizes based on skill/bankroll/game, and no fulltime professional lottery (or roulette etc.) players earning a good income of ANY SIZE every year.

Sit down in any USA casino to play $10/$20 or higher limit poker, and you will normally find yourself up against at least a couple of players who support themselves solely or primarily by playing poker. At $10/$20 maybe 10% are fulltime pros and 20% are supplementing their income, while the majority of the remainder are recreational players of all sorts, or losing players paying dearly for entertainment and/or gambling action.

At higher stakes it becomes a pecking order of winning pros essentially fighting over who gets the money out of fewer losers, but ones with real money... or wannabes trying to move up the ladder. Fewer purely-recreational players can compete well the higher up you go, but still some can and do.

It is not totally uncommon for someone who loses $1 million or more per year on slot machines, to visit the poker tables and truly enjoy playing against pros and other fish alike, all for a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars. A lot cheaper than staying there pounding the button on a $100 slot machine...and they can always go back to visit their restaurant chain and get more money to play again tomorrow.

Go to a racetrack with 40,000 people there, and I doubt that you will find that even 100 of them earn a living at betting the horses.

While the same percentage holds true at a casino overall, virtually all 100 of the winning pros will be in the poker room. Maybe also a blackjack player or two before they get kicked out for card counting, but that is a tough way to earn a living compared to beating fish at poker.
Posted by CharlesSchwab (3 comments )
Link Flag
Whats really behind this...
...I mean besides the NAUSEATINGLY-ENDLESS political-posturing.

If you want my opinion...

This is about being able hold "ISPs", and "Financial Institutions", ET-AL, responsible, for their customers actions. And, therefore, FORCING them (ESSENTIAL PRIVATE-INSTITUTIONS) to MONITOR, TRACK, and REPORT (to the government) EVERYTHING that EVERYBODY does, ...for whatever the GOVERNMENTS -CAUSE-OF-THE-DAY is.

You know the EXCUSES... to stop "terrorism", "child-porn", "file-swapping", "...children accessing -unacceptable content-", "-destructive- political, or consumer, dissidence", ...what-have-you.

You should also check-out the governments, current, BIG PUSH to require "...ISP Data-Retention", and "...Law-enforcement backdoors"... ...in virtually all computer equipment".

Talk about UN-AMERICAN MEGALOMANIA...

"BIG BROTHER" ...IS WATCHING... for OUR OWN GOOD, ...Im quite sure.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True, but it is even worse.....
.....they already have such good Interet-monitoring technology aimed at "terrorists" that also "unwittingly" catches traffic between US Citizens, that they really don't need ISPs to do much of the dirty work for them.

Maybe they just want to make it look like they aren't watching us themselves, but we know they are. After all, there is no need for court oversight if the prez doesn't want it....right? "Hey, we told a couple of key Democrats in the coatroom that we were spying on Americans in America...and they didn't try to stop us".

Now there's a real Constitutional check and balance....barf

The sad day has arrived when Grannie can't any longer play $0.25/$0.50 Texas Holdem legally online. Now she will have to play in the "play money" games where nobody folds a hand and hence nobody can learn to play well. So when you push her wheelchair into a legal casino, she is going to get her 80something butt kicked when playing even at low $4/$8 stakes, having had no good way to improve her skills before going there with her Social Security money in hand.

I'm just waiting for some judge to find a stock day-trader as having violated this law, after making the judgment that poker and day-trading have all the same characteristics of risk-taking, and are equally qualified to be called games or gambling.

Some of the evidence he will cite is that the players of both games sit there clicking away online trying to beat their seemingly-identical competitors out of their money. For every winner there is a loser whose money they took, except that in a rising stock market, paper gains can raise all ships as the tide comes in.

But in favor of poker as being more businesslike than day trading, a skilled poker player is far more certain of turning a profit. He only has to be a little better than his competitors, as there is never the case of a quickly receding tide lowering all ships as in a falling stock market. In both cases there are fees biting into profits slightly, but for a skilled player of poker or the stock market, they are not material to the result.
Posted by CharlesSchwab (3 comments )
Link Flag
BetOnSports
i have see the commataries and BS that some of the heads of state have allowed them selfs to even try and explain how the internet works.. i think its a crying shame that "tube" and "pipes" are used for terms of the internet.. and from people that are "in so called command" its beyond me... the gaming industry did not get there fair share of the pie so to speak of and this is why a lot of friends that i have and can not chat with them on pokerchamps.. blocking the USA, China and japan from accessing pokerchamps, i do not play for real money, i enjoyed the time at the fun money tables and chatting with friends from all over the world and now nothing.
what about the lotto and lotterys ?? come on now peoples there is "no difference" when it comes down to money... i worked in a casion for over 5 years and it all came down the the bottom line "money" and the fair share... If you are going to punish 1 then by damned punish them all and not just one... and besides who is to tell me what i can and can not do with the money that i earn?? not the us goverment oh no not by the sweat and blood i go thur to make it...
i think that 1. these US senitors and others should sit back and really look at the bottom line here and there "POCKETS" and not getting there fair share.. and leave us alone and go fry some bigger fish on their playgrounds.
Posted by nsttz (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Let's take responsibility for our own actions
I take complete responsibility for my own actions. I don't expect the government to bail me out as so many of people in our society have chosen to do. I guess they figure, "why bother, the government will take care of me". I have gambling in my home state of Louisiana, but I prefer gambling on-line....in my smoke-free environment. I guess after my death from second-hand smoke, my beneficiaries can sue the government for forcing me to enjoy my form of entertainment in a smoke filled casino. The government seems to think enough about the dining environment to ban smoking there, so if I can't enjoy gambling in my home, can they please push to have smoking banned from casinos...Yeah Right! And another thing...the government has no problem with me taking my money across state borders or even out of the country to gamble, so why can't I gamble through the internet. As I see it, no difference. If the government would regulate it, they would profit. I just don't get it!
Posted by bella-d (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
www.USonlineGamblingBan.com
www.USonlineGamblingBan.com

Dedicated discussion board concerning the U.S. ban on internet gaming.
Posted by usonlinegamblingban (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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