In a 25-11 vote Thursday the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill banning gambling over state lines and Internet technologies.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, introduced by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rick Boucher, D-Va., would amend the federal 1961 Wire Act by prohibiting all forms of interstate gambling and Internet technologies used in the activity.
In addition, it would ban gambling businesses from accepting payments such as credit cards, checks, wire and Internet transfers in illegal gambling transactions as well as giving law enforcement injunction authority to uphold the act.
It also increases the maximum prison term for a violation of this act from two years to five years.
"Gambling on the Internet has become an extremely lucrative business," Goodlatte said in a statement. "Numerous studies have charted the explosive growth of this industry, both by the increases in gambling websites available, and via industry revenues. Internet gambling is now estimated to be a $12 billion industry, with approximately $6 billion coming from bettors based in the U.S. It has been reported that there are as many as 2,300 gambling sites."
The United States has found itself in the hot seat in the past with such prohibition bills including with the World Trade Organization, which gave the United States till April 3, 2006 to bring its laws into compliance with the WTO decisions in a dispute between the U.S. and Antigua and Barbuda.
Opponents have argued that prohibition is not the answer, especially when U.S. laws do no extend their jurisdiction to other countries, saying it would be better to develop a system of taxes by working with states that deal with such gambling entities as casinos.
The bill now moves on to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
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