RealTime IT News

Lawmakers Bet on New Online Gambling Ban

Two Virginia congressmen want to fold your online poker game, introducing legislation Thursday to ban all forms of electronic gambling in the United States.

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act proposes to make it illegal for Americans to use the Internet for gambling and would authorize law enforcement officials to stop credit card payments and other forms of electronic payments.

Violators would be subject to up to five years in prison.

"The [legislation] brings the current ban against interstate gambling up to speed with the development of new technology," bill sponsor Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), a co-sponsor of the legislation, added in the same statement: "The explosive growth of the Internet has provided a means for gambling operations to evade existing anti-gambling laws."

Under current federal law, the Wire Act, passed by Congress in the early 1960s, prohibits making gambling wagers over the telephone. It is not legally clear if the Wire Act actually applies to the Internet.

"Technology has allowed for new types of electronic gambling, including interactive games on the Internet such as poker and blackjack, which may not clearly be included within the types of gambling currently made illegal by the Wire Act," the bill summary states.

"Our bill sensibly updates federal law to keep pace with new technologies by bringing the Internet within the fold of the anti-gambling restrictions that govern telephones," Boucher said.

Goodlatte has twice before introduced similar legislation but was unable to garner enough support to pass the bill. Earlier this week, Goodlatte blamed convicted pro gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the defeats.

"Abramoff's total disregard for the legislative process has allowed Internet gambling to continue thriving and it's now a $12 billion industry," stated a media alert from Goodlatte's office.

"The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is vital to protect our children and communities from the problems of addiction, crime, bankruptcy and family difficulties that come from gambling."