At a press conference last Thursday, Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) reintroduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, bipartisan legislation that would crack down on gambling that crosses state lines via phone lines and Internet technologies.
Congressmen Goodlatte and Boucher previously introduced similar legislation in both the 106th and 107th Congresses only to have their legislation derailed in part by Jack Abramoff and the lobbying effort he led.
"I have been continuously committed to putting an end to gambling on the Internet," said Rep. Goodlatte. "For too long our children have been placed in harm’s way as online gambling has been permitted to flourish into a $12 billion industry. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act brings the current ban against interstate gambling up to speed with the development of new technology."
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act cracks down on illegal gambling by updating the Wire Act to cover all forms of interstate gambling and account for new technologies.
Under current federal law, it is unclear whether using the Internet to operate a gambling business is illegal. The closest useful statute currently is the Wire Act, which prohibits gambling over telephone wires.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act amends the Wire Act to make it clear that the prohibitions include Internet gambling and the use of other technologies.
"The explosive growth of the Internet
has provided a means for gambling operations to evade existing anti-gambling
laws," Boucher stated. "These Internet gambling websites typically
operate offshore and often serve as a prime vehicle for money laundering and
other criminal enterprises. Our bill sensibly updates federal law to keep pace
with new technologies by bringing the Internet within the fold of the
anti-gambling restrictions that govern telephones."
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act allows states to continue to regulate gambling within their borders. It also prohibits a gambling business from accepting certain forms of payment, including credit cards, checks, wire and Internet transfers, in illegal gambling transactions.
The legislation also allows federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials to seek injunctions to prevent and restrain violations of the Act and obtain cooperation in the fight against illegal gambling.
Additionally, this legislation increases the maximum prison term for a violation of the Act from 2 years to 5 years.
"Illegal online gambling doesn’t just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serves as a vehicle for money laundering," stated Goodlatte. "It is time to shine a bright light on theses illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet."
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Goodlatte and Boucher are both members, for further consideration.
A total of 115 House lawmakers have co-sponsored the bill.
No companion bill has yet been introduced in the U.S. Senate.