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June 25, 2002 10:33 AM
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A federal bill that would prohibit Internet gambling last week made it out of the House Judiciary Committee by an 18-12 vote, but not before raising the wrath of state lotteries and the pari-mutuel industries.

Although the American Gaming Association (AGA) had originally endorsed the bill, the amended version will probably lose its support.

"At this point, we’re inclined to oppose it," AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf told GamingToday.

Fahrenkopf added that the AGA originally supported the bill because it protected common pool wagering on horse racing, and states’ rights to control gambling within their borders. Those provisions are now in jeopardy.

However, Fahrenkopf added that the bill "affects nothing in Nevada that is presently legal." That would include common pool, simulcast horse betting, which is a major component of Nevada casinos’ sports offerings.

Under provisions of an amendment added by Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, the proposed legislation would ban the use of the Internet to place bets that were illegal on June 6.

Because telephone betting, closed-loop betting and common-pool wagering were all legal in Nevada on that date, they would presumably remain legal if the bill passes.

That, however, is a longshot, Fahrenkopf said.

"In its present form, the bill is a longshot to pass," Fahrenkopf said. "I expect most governors will line up to oppose it because of possible effect on state lotteries."

Lottery groups are reviewing the bill, while expressing opposition are the pari-mutuel and horse racing industries.

"The bill in its current form”¦ is fundamentally flawed and unfair," said the National Thoroughbred Association in a statement. "It fails to distinguish between legal and illegal wagering activities that utilize the Internet as a means of communication. It fails to recognize horse racing’s legal and regulatory status under both federal and state law."

The author of the legislation, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, said his bill made provisions for allowing "legal" Internet gambling, as long as these criteria were met:

”¡ Minors were prohibited from making online bets,

”¡ Interactive online betting should be limited to within a state’s borders and/or with other states that have also approved and regulated Internet gaming.

The legislation must now make it to the House floor ”” not a given ”” where it is expected to have a difficult time passing the Republican-controlled body.

”˜The bill affects nothing that is currently legal in Nevada; In its current form it’s not expected to pass’”” Frank Fahrenkopf