Rep. James Leach reintroduced legislation on Monday that would declare illegal the use of checks, debit and credit cards to pay debts for or to receive profits from Internet gambling.
The bill, H.R. 556, is essentially the same bill that was passed last year by the House Banking Committee, which Leach chaired at the time. The panel has since been renamed to the Financial Services Committee. This bill would “surgically remove” the means by which anyone gambling on the Net could either receive profits of winnings or pay off their debt to an Internet gambling operation, said Leach aide Dave Runkel. “People just wouldn’t do this unless they could get their profits back when they win, and what company would want to continue its activities if there were no means by which they could collect from people who lose money?” Leach’s bill, H.R. 556, is elegantly simple compared to the intricacies and carve-outs included in a bill to ban most forms of online gambling introduced last year by Rep.
Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. While Goodlatte’s bill, “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, would have outlawed most forms of Internet gambling, the measure also contained some notable carve-outs for closed-loop, so-called “parimutuel” gambling businesses – some of which left a sour taste in Democrats’ mouths, who noted that the bill devoted more wiggle room to exceptions to the rule than not. In July the House voted 245-159 in favor of the measure, but the bill fell a few dozen votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed for passage under the suspension calendar. That effort failed largely because it ran into opposition from Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif.,
who expressed objections to an apparent lack of liability protection for Internet service providers (ISP) that could be implicated for breaking the law even if they are not aware of illegal activity taking place over their networks. Goodlatte has said he plans to reintroduce legislation to ban most forms of Internet gambling, but added that the new bill likely will differ in some ways from its predecessor. A spokesman for the congressman said the specific changes and an introduction date for the bill remain uncertain. A similar bill was introduced by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., which passed the Senate, but was axed from the appropriations process after it had been tentatively attached to a larger spending bill. Newsbytes reporter Robert MacMillan contributed to this report.