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Anne Lindner

Leach Bill Gains Momentum

25 September 2002

A variety of organizations, from financial groups to the Fraternal Order of Police, have voiced support for the anti-Internet gambling bill put forth in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa.

Congressional insiders say the bill will probably be voted on under a suspension of the rules on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Under a suspension of the rules, a bill is debated on the House floor for 40 minutes and cannot be amended before it is voted on. To pass it must receive two-thirds of the vote.

According the press office of the House Financial Services Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, is championing the legislation, 25 organizations have endorsed the Leach bill.

The following groups and companies support the Leach bill:

ISP: Net

Family Groups: The United Methodist Church, Christian Coalition of America, Southern Baptist Convention, National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, Jerry Falwell Ministries, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, American Family Association, Presbyterian Church, Focus on the Family

Sports Organizations: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB)

Financial Groups: Bank of America, Securities Industry Association, Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, American Express, Household International Inc., PayPal Inc.

Law Enforcement Groups: Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police

States Rights Group: Ohio Lottery Commission

Noticeably absent from the list are two of America's largest credit card associations: Visa and MasterCard. A representative from Visa told IGN that her company could not comment on the matter until Thursday because the company spokeswoman was unavailable until then. MasterCard and PayPal did not respond to IGN's requests for comment.

A representative from Discover Financial Services, which is owned by Morgan Stanley, said her company has not done business with merchants who offer Internet gambling since 1999.

"The policy is that we won't sign on any merchants that knowingly offer Internet gambling, and if we find out that a current merchant offers Internet gambling, we'll terminate the relationship," she said.

The NFL and MLB said they support the bill because they believe sports gambling will erode the integrity of their sports.

"We are also mindful that sports gambling results in the loss of billions of American dollars each year and has proven to be a problem especially with young people in high schools and on college campuses," stated Jeffrey Pash, executive vice president and general counsel for the NFL, and John McHale Jr., executive vice president in the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, in their endorsement of the bill.

Tom Wildmon of the American Family Association, in his letter of endorsement, said his group supports the bill because it goes after offshore gambling sites.

"We support this bill's approach,which takes aim at banks that knowingly permit their payment or credit card facilities to be used to circumvent state and federal laws," he wrote. "Although Internet gambling is illegal in almost all 50 states, it is nearly impossible to enforce it against offshore gambling sites. This vital legislation will cut off the lifeblood of offshore Internet gambling sites by eliminating their access to U.S. financial institutions."

A Washington, D.C. source with ties to the Congressional process, who did not want to be named, said it makes a difference that so many groups have endorsed the bill.

"I think there's a lot of understanding in the House that they're (the groups who endorsed the bill) kind of beaten into submission and that there's no one who's actually champing at the bit to have the thing become law," he said, "but certainly, the fact that Oxley is powerful enough to make that happen is not lost on the leadership."

Leach Bill Gains Momentum is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner