On the 15th of February US Congressman from Virginia Bob Goodlatte reintroduced HR 4777, the “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.” Goodlatte hopes to pass the bill, that may amend the earlier Title 18 of the United States Code containing the Federal Wire Act passed in 1961. The Wire Act outlawed telephone betting by rendering it illegal to put bets by “wire transmission.”

The explosion of Internet poker rooms and sports books in recent years was possible only consequently of the ambiguity surrounding the definition of “wire” ;.While opponents of Internet gambling insisted that the meaning included cable, satellite, and cellular technology, no court would uphold a conviction predicated on that definition. Goodlatte hopes to amend that by expanding the Code to include all forms of electronic transmission, in addition to to include all kinds of bets.

Earlier attempts to pass the legislation were thwarted vegus168 by the lobbying efforts of Jack Abramoff, based on Gooodlatte’s office. But Abramoff’s recent guilty pleas to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials have added political capital to Goodlatte’s campaign.

According to Goodlatte “Illegal online gambling doesn’t just hurt gamblers and their own families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serve as a car for money laundering,” stated Goodlatte. “It’s time to shine a bright light on these illegal sites and bring an instant end to illegal gambling on the Internet.”

“But outlawing online gambling won’t stop the activity.” says Will Catlett of Sportsbettingscams.org, an industry watchdog site. “It is only going to drive it underground. If online gambling is outlawed then a government will miss its power to legislate online gambling policy and police it’s dangers, and undoubtedly its power to tax the transactions. Goodlatte’s bill will do precisely the opposite of what it really wants to do.”

At the time of July 2005, based on Forrester polls, there were over 300,000 gambling websites entertaining over 7,000,000 online gamblers. While the bulk of traffic to these websites initially originated from the United States, that number is now around 40% as players are attracted from throughout the world. If the bill is passed, the industry will shrink dramatically, and shift its focus to other nations. Meanwhile, online gamblers in the United States will be out of luck. “It’s amazing to me that bill might just pass quietly with minimum resistance.” says Catlett. “Anybody who enjoys gambling online should write their State Representative to let them know why this bill shouldn’t go through.”

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