Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Internet Gambling Bill Reported out of U.S. House Committee

Today the House Financial Services Committee passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2005 (H.R. 4411) and sent it to the full House of Representatives. The approval was on a voice vote. The bill specifically excludes from the definition of “unlawful Internet gambling” interstate horseracing, which is defined as “placing, receiving, or otherwise transmitting a bet or wager that is governed by and complies with the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.”

There was little debate in the Committee, which passed similar legislation in the last Congress that was ultimately passed by the House of Representatives. Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA) spoke in support of the bill, which he introduced last fall to prohibit the use of credit in connection with Internet gambling.

Mr. Leach referred to the legislation introduced by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) (H.R. 4777), which would also prohibit illegal Internet gambling. That bill would update the federal Wire Statute (18 U.S.C. 1084) to make it clear that the federal prohibitions on interstate wagering in that statute apply to the Internet and other new technologies. The Goodlatte bill also includes a specific exclusion for pari-mutuel horse racing and wagering transactions pursuant to the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA).

Congressman Leach said that he also supported the Goodlatte bill and suggested that if that bill moves out of the Judiciary Committee “perhaps good provisions could be taken from each bill before one bill is brought to the House for a vote.”

The likely next step is for the House Judiciary Committee to consider the Goodlatte bill.