|Senator Jon Kyl insists the anti-online gambling bill he introduced will pass into law in the US this year, with or without the backing of the mainstream gambling industry.|
Kyl said Thursday he is prepared to talk to gambling industry lobbyists, but said: 'One way or another, we're going to get a bill,'. He added: 'I hope (the casinos) can see their way clear to help us out.'
The Indian gambling industry is broadly supportive of Kyl's bill, which passed the Senate Banking Committee by a 19-0 vote on July 31, due to the fact that there is an allowance for tribal reservations to carry out networked bingo and other types of gambling.
However, the bill would mean US states could not legally offer online wagering even if only within their borders, a move that would violate states' rights, according to Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association.
'This can easily be fixed by including language which would say gambling must be legal in states where the (Internet) gambling transmission is coming from,' Fahrenkopf said.
No state has legalized Internet gambling, despite the eagerness of states such as Nevada to do so. Fahrenkopf says it should be a matter for individual states, rather than the federal government, to legalize Internet gambling.
States would have that option in an Internet gambling bill that the House passed 319-104 on June 10. Both the House bill and the Senate bill would make it illegal to use electronic fund transfers such as credit cards, as well as checks, for Internet betting.
Fahrenkopf said the mainstream casinos might support an earlier version of the Kyl bill, which mirrored the legislation passed by the House. However, the Senate Banking Committee amended Kyl's bill to prohibit states from legalizing online wagering after the US Department of Justice complained that the House bill would expand Internet gambling. This was an overreaction on the part of the Justice Department and a misreading of the bill, Fahrenkopf said.
Fahrenkopf met with Kyl on June 23, then wrote to the senator on Sept. 9 stating the industry's objections to the Senate bill. The main objection to the House bill is the curtailing of the states’ right to regulate Internet gambling.
Fahrenkopf said he hopes to meet this week with Kyl's staff.
'I'm not optimistic, but I'm not pessimistic,' Fahrenkopf said. 'If you go back and look at the original bill, we would not oppose that legislation.'
However, Kyl admits that the interests of the mainstream casinos and the Indian gaming industry are not compatible.” It’s a problem, and frankly, I thought that we were working with the casinos and then it appears that maybe they were not willing to work with us, ' Kyl said.
'So you know, it may be necessary to choose (between tribal gambling interests and mainstream casinos).'