Proposed Bill ‘Totalitarian’
By staff
Indian tribes, convenience store owners and horse track owners have united to lobby against an anti-Internet gambling bill that could reach the House floor next week. The bill, from Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, would require Western Union, US banks and credit card companies to filter out or block any transaction related to online wagering.

'Tribes are going to be left out in the cold,' said John Harte, general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Association. Native American casino operators say it would prevent them from participating in the same kind of Internet gambling that horse track owners and other groups would enjoy. They are particularly worried about commercial casinos going online.

The bill under consideration would bar credit card and wire transfer companies from processing Internet bets involving offshore operations (while allowing people to wager on state-licensed Internet operations, including those involving state lotteries and horse racing) is supported by an assortment of horse track owners, jai alai operators and ‘family values’ groups.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, says a federal law prohibiting online gambling will make the U.S. like 'totalitarian regimes who limit their citizens' access to the Internet.'

'You might remember a failed experiment the U.S. government tried in the 1920s called Prohibition,' Conyers said. 'Just as outlawing alcohol did not work in the 1920s, current attempts to prohibit online gaming will not work, either.'

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