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House OKs Measure to Outlaw Credit Cards in Online Gaming

July 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House voted Tuesday to forbid the use of credit cards to settle online bets, an effort to halt mushrooming interest in Internet gambling.

Opponents said the legislation wouldn't work and decried exceptions for state-run lotteries and the horse racing industry, which has powerful patrons in Congress.

The vote was 317 to 93.

"The House has acted very strongly on this measure," said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), one of the bill's lead sponsors. "I think that should send a strong signal that we need for the Senate to act."

Senate leaders have not identified the bill as a priority, but the measure's main champion in the Senate, Arizona Republican Jon Kyl, said Tuesday that he would pursue it aggressively.

The legislation would clarify and update current law to spell out that most gambling is illegal online, and would prohibit most payment forms from being used to settle online wagers.

The measure also would empower law enforcement authorities to work with Internet providers to block access to gambling websites.

Supporters say Internet betting can be a problem for gamblers. "The Internet is addictive for many people anyway, and online gambling can be doubly addictive," said Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.).

Critics argued that regulating the $12-billion industry and collecting taxes on it would be more effective than outlawing it. They say policing the Internet is impossible.

"Prohibition as a general principle is a bad principle, because it doesn't work," said Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The American Gaming Assn., the industry's largest lobby, opposed online gambling in the past but recently softened its stance. The Internet gambling industry is based almost entirely outside the United States.

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