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Best of Tony Batt

Gaming Guru

Tony Batt
 

Backdoor Move to Ban Web Gambling Fizzles

19 September 2006

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., tried to attach an Internet gambling ban to a defense bill last week but was rebuffed by two powerful senators, congressional sources said Monday.

Despite the setback, advocates said GOP leaders will keep trying to add an online wagering prohibition to must-pass legislation until Congress adjourns this year.

Frist approached Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and asked him to add an Internet gambling ban to a defense authorization bill, according to congressional staffers who requested anonymity.

But after checking with Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Warner rejected the idea because an online wagering ban would not be relevant to defense legislation.

A source close to Frist confirmed the majority leader made the proposal to Warner, but declined to elaborate.

After hearing of Frist's proposal, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., sent Warner a letter urging him to reject any amendment that would ban online betting.

"We must not use this important (defense) bill as a convenient vehicle for political pet issues such as a ban on Internet gaming," Berkley said.

Berkley opposed an Internet gambling ban that passed the House 317-93 in July.

Although the Department of Justice has said Internet gambling is illegal, the $12 billion industry continues to grow, with more than 2,300 Web sites.

Frist, who has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2008, criticized online wagering during an August visit to Iowa.

While in Iowa, Frist joined Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, one of the two main sponsors of the ban that passed the House, in conducting an informal field hearing critical of Internet gambling.

On Sept. 5, the day Congress returned from its August recess, Frist made a speech on the Senate floor and listed an Internet gambling ban as one of his priorities as Congress rushes toward adjournment. Frist's second term expires this year, and he is not running for re-election.

Backdoor Move to Ban Web Gambling Fizzles is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.