|The House voted Tuesday to exempt American gambling operations from legislation that would ban gamblers from using credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers at illegal offshore Internet casinos. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, which passed 319-104, is an attempt to close off the money supply to unregulated offshore casinos, in effect putting them out of business.|
Some lawmakers said the exemption -- while aimed at protecting existing legal gambling operations like horse racing, lotteries, dog racing -- could expand American gambling operations to the World Wide Web.
The vote was much tighter on the exception in the legislation for 'any lawful transaction with a business licensed or authorized by a state' -- it passed 237-186.
Supporters said that passing the ban without the exception would practically kill horse racing -- which relies heavily on credit card transactions -- and that states always have had the right to regulate gambling within their own borders.
A total ban 'would prevent a state from accepting pari-mutuel betting or one of any other forms of gambling that have been recognized and declared permissible by state law,' said Rep Artur Davis (D-Ala)
It is not known when or whether the Senate will consider its version of the bill, which also has the American gambling carve-outs.
The House bill carries no criminal or civil penalties, instead being fast-tracked to the Financial Services committee and to the full House for passage. Supporters say they plan to place criminal penalties back into the bill once it reaches a House-Senate conference committee.
On a somewhat extreme note, Michael Oxley, chairman of the Financial Services committee, said restricting offshore gambling was necessary to thwart Al Qaeda.