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Tony Batt

Nevada lawmakers to push for online betting study

16 March 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Two Nevada lawmakers, hoping to repeal a crackdown on Internet gambling, are working on legislation that would require the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an 18-month study of online wagering.

Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Jon Porter, R-Nev., will co-sponsor the legislation, which is expected to be unveiled within weeks.

The Nevadans also hope to gain a powerful ally in Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a longtime critic of gambling restrictions, has called last year's Internet gambling ban "preposterous" and one of the "stupidest" bills ever passed.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., attached the ban to a port security bill that passed in the waning days of last year's congressional session.

Frank has said he is considering proposing a repeal of the ban, which aims to shut down 2,300 Internet gambling sites producing about $12 billion per year.

Berkley said she talked to Frank on Wednesday on the House floor about Internet gambling and they plan to meet again "in the very near future."

"The purpose of our bill is to provide a comprehensive study with detailed information on the expanded growth of Internet gambling," Berkley said.

To avoid the political bickering that plagued a federal commission that completed a two-year study of legalized gambling in June 1999, Berkley and Porter would assign the Internet gambling study to the National Research Council, which is an agency of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This actually is a very independent institution which has the resources to get the facts to Congress," Porter said.

Porter introduced a similar bill last year, which Berkley co-sponsored.

Even though Congress chose instead to approve an Internet gambling ban, Porter said he thinks lawmakers would consider a repeal.

A date has not been set, but Porter said he still plans to visit the Isle of Man, Britain, and Madrid, Spain, to observe Internet gambling operations firsthand.

Berkley's position on Internet gambling has changed since July 2000, when she voted for an online betting ban proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

"I would say technology has improved over the last few years, and I have greater faith in the ability to regulate Internet gambling so that it does not pose a threat to minors," Berkley said.

Nevada lawmakers to push for online betting study is republished from