Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Kevin Smith

Prohibition Bill Introduced in Senate

2 October 2002

The House of Representatives' passing of the Leach bill means the ball now rests with the Senate, but supporters will have to make room for a competing bill.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., proposed a bill last week aimed at expanding the U.S Wire Act of 1961 to prohibit Internet gambling. Currently, the Wire Act bars the use of telephones to place bets across state lines. The new legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Johnson said the ease with which minors can gamble online was the primary motivation behind introducing the bill

"Because I am very concerned that children will be susceptible to the influences of gambling on the Internet, I co-sponsored or introduced several pieces of legislation, including my own bill that I introduced back in 1996 as a member of the House," he said.

He added, "Internet gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry in America. In this day and age when our children have such easy and unfettered access to the Internet, we must not (allow) this unregulated and out-of-control industry to continue operating."

Johnson cosponsored Sen. Jon Kyl's, R-Ariz., I-gaming prohibition bill in 1999. That measure passed through the Senate, but later stalled in the House.

The Leach bill, which would control online gambling through payment methods is bound for the Senate, but it's unclear how it will be received there.

The future of Johnson's bill is uncertain as well.

If neither bill is moved out of the Senate, supporters of a ban would have to wait until the next congressional session begins, which commences in early 2003.

Johnson's bill would make it illegal for a person to place, receive, make or otherwise enable or facilitate a bet or a wager over the Internet. ISPs would not be held accountable for illegal gaming actions that happen on their systems under the current wording of the bill.

The Leach bill, conversely, would enable law enforcement authorities to obtain court orders requiring Internet service providers to shut down gambling Web sites. The bill also calls for Internet service providers to remove hyperlinks to Web sites that offer gambling.

Allies of the interactive gaming industry remain adamant in their fight for regulation.

Rick Smith, the executive director of the Interactive Gaming Council, an industry lobbying group and a trade organization, said the association is "obviously disappointed that a bill such as the one introduced by Sen. Tim Johnson is making an appearance."

He added, "The IGC reiterates its position that constructive talks between industry and government with a view towards regulation, not prohibition, is the sensible solution to ensuring adequate measures are in place to protect consumers and to combat issues such as money laundering."

Smith did applaud Johnson for casting a wide net on the gaming industry, pointing out that the Leach bill has carve-outs for horseracing and state lotteries, while the Johnson bill includes no exemptions. He also feels getting ISPs off the hook as a monitoring body of illegal Internet activities is the right approach, but emphasized that the bill isn't totally perfect.

"Sen. Johnson does, at least, remove industry bias by capturing all forms of interactive gaming, thus removing flow on benefits to specific sectors within the industry," Smith said. "It also steers away from deputizing sectors within the industry as Internet police. However, we believe the Johnson bill, like other bills in this area, fails to recognize that millions of Americans enjoy (responsible) gaming online as an acceptable form of entertainment, and that prohibition efforts will ultimately prove counterproductive."

In the past, Kyl has led the prohibition movement in the Senate. Bob Martin, a spokesman for Johnson, told IGN that Johnson and Kyl have not discussed the new bill, but there have been talks among Senate members to see what kind of support Johnson will get.

That Kyl and Johnson have worked together in the past, Martin said, is a good indication that the new bill will be looked at favorably throughout the Senate.

Both Johnson and Leach are locked in tight races for reelection.

Click here to view a copy of the Johnson bill.

Prohibition Bill Introduced in Senate is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith