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Kevin Smith

Goodlatte Loses a Sponsor

13 March 2002

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is already experiencing the effects of the American Gaming Association's withdrawing its support of his Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act, a bill that would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling. Yesterday, one day after the AGA pulled its support for the bill a leading Congressman from Nevada has followed suit.

One of the bill's many cosponsors, Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., asked his name be taken off the bill.

"Internet gambling regulation must apply to all forms of gambling activities, not select ones."
-Rep. Jim Gibbons

Just like the AGA's announcement that it would be lobbying against the bill, Gibbons' action is in stark contrast to past alliances within the prohibition movement. And just like the AGA, Gibbons said the decision was based on the Goodlatte bill's change of focus.

He said he is still in support of a ban on Internet gambling because he feels it is necessary "until the Internet gambling industry can demonstrate that it can protect consumers and children from unscrupulous and unregulated Internet gambling sites."

He echoed the sentiments of the AGA's president, Frank Fahrenkopf--that technology doesn't currently exist to provide appropriate regulatory and law enforcement oversight.

Despite his strong beliefs of that though, Gibbons said the Goodlatte bill isn't the right answer for dealing with Internet gambling.

"It is vastly different than the bill which I supported and which had garnered vast bipartisan support last year," he said.

Gibbons said the amended Goodlatte bill doesn't protect a state's rights if it wants to let consumers gamble on the Internet with sites located in other states. He pointed out that the bill doesn't create a level playing for the entire gaming industry.

"The bill includes an explicit carve-out for horseracing," he said. "Internet gambling regulation must apply to all forms of gambling activities, not select ones."

These elements, Gibbons said, were enough to make him take his name off of the bill. As a congressman from Nevada, Gibbons said he has to look out for the interest of his constituents.

Although he has taken the step of pulling his support from the bill, Gibbons hinted that he is still hopeful for a resolution in the wording of the bill that could bring him back around to supporting the measure.

"Hopefully, Rep. Goodlatte will amend his legislation, before it goes to the floor of the House," he said, "in a manner to assure states' rights and a level playing field with regard to Internet gambling."

The Goodlatte bill made it out of a committee hearing on Tuesday and is not slated to go before a full committee hearing. The AGA said earlier this week that it will lobby hard against the bill, marking the first time the land-based gaming group has worked to prevent an anti-Internet gaming bill from being passed.

Goodlatte Loses a Sponsor is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith