|The overwhelming vote to prohibit the use of credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers to pay for online wagers ended feuding among House committee chairmen over details of legislation aimed at blocking U.S. consumers from participating in illegal offshore Internet gaming. |
Supporters said the bill should add momentum to similar legislation pending in the Senate.
'Congress is as close as it has ever been to enacting an outright ban on unscrupulous Internet casino operations,' said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., whose bill in the Senate mirrors the legislation passed by the House.
Debate on the bill, crafted by Republicans Spencer Bachus of Alabama and Mike Oxley of Ohio, was postponed twice in the past week as House leaders tried to reconcile amendments sought by powerful committee leaders.
The key vote Tuesday came on such an amendment.
The House voted 237-186 to reject an effort by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to delete exemptions in the bill for state lotteries and legal gambling businesses such as horse racing and jai alai. The biggest critic of the amendment was the man widely regarded as the leading voice in Congress against all forms of gambling -- Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who dismissed Sensenbrenner's amendment as a 'poison pill that looks good' but would lessen support for an Internet gambling ban. As well as pointedly walking by Sensenbrenner and ignoring him after his comments, Wolf also feverishly ran about distributing flyers during the vote.
The defeat of Sensenbrenner's amendment was a big victory for Oxley, who is chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Oxley worked with Bachus to streamline the Internet gambling ban after Sensenbrenner's committee voted last month to eliminate all exemptions.
The American Gaming Association, the chief lobbying arm of casinos, was neutral on bill before the vote.
'Now that the bill has passed, we will revisit this issue with the board when it goes to the Senate,' claimed AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf. 'As you know, I have personal reservations about the ban but that does not reflect my board's view.'