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 sooner 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 meaning of “wire” ;.While opponents of Internet gambling insisted that this is 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, as well as to include all forms of bets.

Earlier attempts to pass the legislation were thwarted vegus168 by the lobbying efforts of Jack Abramoff, according to 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.

In accordance with Goodlatte “Illegal online gambling doesn’t just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serve as a car for money laundering,” stated Goodlatte. “It is time for you to shine a bright light on these illegal sites and bring a fast 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 will simply drive it underground. If online gambling is outlawed then the government will miss its power to legislate online gambling policy and police it’s dangers, not forgetting its power to tax the transactions. Goodlatte’s bill can do exactly the opposite of what it really wants to do.”

As of July 2005, according to Forrester polls, there were over 300,000 gambling websites entertaining over 7,000,000 online gamblers. While the majority of traffic to these websites initially originated from the United States, that number is currently 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 undoubtedly be out of luck. “It’s amazing in my experience that this bill may just pass quietly with minimum resistance.” says Catlett. “Anyone who enjoys gambling online should write their State Representative to let them know why this bill shouldn’t go through.”

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