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Anne Lindner

Leach's Day Could Come Soon

9 September 2002

Two anti-Internet gambling bills in the U.S. House of Representatives have been molded into one, and the combined bill could be put to a vote of the full House as soon as two weeks from now.

One insider close to the process, who spoke to IGN on the condition of maintaining anonymity, said the bill, HR 556 (the number of Leach's original bill), is the result of a deal between Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and James Leach, R-Iowa. Both Goodlatte and Leach had bills that would prohibit Internet gambling up for consideration in the House.

Bill Tate, Leach's press secretary, said the bill, dated Aug. 30, is basically Leach's original bill with a few elements of Goodlatte's bill added in.

"There were three non-controversial provisions from the Goodlatte bill melded in with the Leach legislation," Tate said.

Among the provisions from the Goodlatte bill that were implanted in the Leach bill:

  • The penalties for criminal violation of the 1961 Interstate Wire Act were raised to five from two years.

  • The Wire Act is to be made technology-neutral, meaning that anything made illegal through the use of telephone lines would also be illegal through the use of any other technology, including the Internet.

  • Internet service providers will have a list of actions in response to a court order.

Goodlatte's original bill, HR 3215, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on June 18, but only after the committee voted to approve an amendment to the bill from Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, to strip the bill of exemptions for the horse racing, lottery and casino industries.

According to IGN's source, House leadership is trying to decide whether to schedule the new bill for a floor vote the week after next week. Tate confirmed that a request has been made to the House majority leader to schedule the bill but that it has not been placed on the calendar this week.

When and if the bill is brought to the House floor, it will probably be put to a vote under a suspension of the rules, meaning that the bill will hear only 20 minutes of debate on both sides and then must muster a two-thirds majority to pass. If it passes, it would go to the Senate for consideration.

As for whether the full House will have enough in the remainder of its current session to consider the I-gaming bill, IGN's source said previous conventional wisdom was that when the legislators returned from their summer break they would be too busy with appropriations bills to consider an online gambling bill. However, it appears that the appropriations bills are not ready yet, freeing House members for other topics.

"The theory was that they are so behind on appropriations bills that they have to give all of their time to appropriations bills," he said. "Now it's that they're so far behind on appropriations bills, the appropriations bills aren't even ready for the floor, so now they're looking for stuff to fill floor time, but this really doesn't fall in that category because suspensions don't really take any time."

If the bill passes the full House and moves onto the Senate, the insider said there were a number of expedited consideration processes that could push it forward.

"They could try to attach it to an appropriation bill or some other must-pass bill," he said. "There's plenty of ways it could be done."

Click here to view the latest version of HR 556.

Leach's Day Could Come Soon is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner