Anti-Gambling Efforts Resumed
By Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.
The House Financial Services Committee recently approved legislation that would prohibit the use of credit cards checks and electronic funds transfers to pay for Internet betting transactions. Rep. Jim Leach’s bill, H.R. 21 attacks Internet gambling by cutting off its financial support, and placing enforcement burdens on financial institutions. The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner is said to be a skeptical of the bill, because previous bills have been handicapped there in the past. More than $2 billion will be illegally wagered by Americans through offshore Internet gambling sites this year according to testimony before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee . The panel held a hearing on another proposed Bill; this one by Sen. Jon Kyl, S. 627, which contains similar language to Rep. Leach’s bill. Frank Catania, former Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement was one of several experts to testify during the hearing. He warned that anonymous transactions would make money laundering easier, stating, “a ban on credit cards and other financial instruments for Internet gaming will likely result in the development of settlement solutions that banks cannot recognize and block – anonymous e-cash.” While praising legislative efforts to combat Internet gambling, Stewart A. Baker, general counsel for the U.S. Internet Service Providers Association, urged the committee to avoid 'unintended consequences' that may hurt the economic growth of the Internet, including requiring ISPs to block customer access to gambling sites not residing on their networks and not under their control. 'Service providers are unable to block user access to websites on other service providers' networks with any reliability,' Baker said. 'Blocking efforts can be easily circumvented and will seriously disrupt legitimate e-commerce and speech.' Congress has tried to outlaw Internet gambling for years, but no bill has passed both chambers due to procedural issues and power struggles among casinos, dog tracks and horse tracks.
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