I-Gambling Again Attacked by Members of Congress
By Earl
by Earl Williams

Members of Congress are again looking at Internet gambling as a resource of abuse by terrorists, who launder much of the finance for their activities through online wagering as well as credit card fraud. So claimed Michael Oxley, Republican, Ohio, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee last week as he testified in the other wing of Congress, before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee.

'Credit card associations should be required to implement anti-money laundering programs [as least] as mandated for all financial institutions in the PATRIOT (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act,' Oxley said.

John LaFalce of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, told the hearing: 'If we don't deal with [Internet gambling], we're going to have unbelievable money laundering taking place globally.'

The Financial Anti-Terrorism Act, passed on October 24, 2001, has become law and is designed to deter use of the Internet for money laundering to finance terrorism. But the provision that would have banned credit cards and other instruments from being used in 'unlawful Internet gambling' was stricken from the bill. The act makes no mention of the word 'gambling' at all, and mentions the word 'Internet' only twice. But a clause describing the intent of the bill as vaguely going beyond the remit of detering and punishing terrorist acts and enhancing law enforcement investigations -- that the bill was also 'for other purposes' -- is being taken quite literally by at least two politicians who seem intent on passing anti-Internet gambling legislation was defeated in the past.

James Leach, a Republican Congressman from Iowa, introduced H.R. 556, which failed, and Robert Goodlatte, a Republican Congressman from Virginia, lost on his bill, H.R. 3215. Both bills suffered more than one defeat over various voting stages.

However, the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 34 to 8 in November approved Leachs 556. It remains to be addressed by the U.S. Senate.

Like Goodlatte's failed bill, it seeks to make online casino transactions illegal (in effect, to make online gambling illegal) and the guilty would be fined and given up to five-year prison terms. We have not yet heard the last of this puritanical exercise.

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