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ONLINE WAGERING: Web bet ban repeal supported

8 June 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Two more bills to repeal an Internet gambling ban were introduced Thursday as a House panel prepared for a hearing today on the $13 billion online wagering industry.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., unveiled a measure to tax Internet gambling companies if they are licensed and regulated in the United States.

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McDermott said his bill would dovetail with a bill introduced last month by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., which would require the Department of Treasury to regulate online betting web sites.

"If we decide, as a nation, to enable gambling online, the billions of dollars flowing out of the country should remain here to help us fund schools and bridges, and a host of social programs that need more than luck to succeed," McDermott said in a statement.

McDermott's bill would produce up to $25 billion for the federal treasury within five years, according to a group called the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

The American Gaming Association, which opposes the Internet gambling ban and supports a study of the online wagering industry, voiced concern about McDermott's bill.

"We have not yet seen this legislation so cannot comment on it fully. Historically, however, the American Gaming Association has been opposed to any federal taxation of the commercial gaming industry," said AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, who has offered her own bill to roll back the Internet gambling ban, went further, saying she could not support McDermott's bill.

"A federal tax on gaming is the camel's nose under the tent," Berkley said.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., also proposed a bill Thursday which would exempt poker and other "skill games" from the Internet gambling ban signed into law in October by President Bush.

"Poker is a game, not a crime," Wexler said in a statement.

"Millions of Americans enjoy competing with each other in games of skill on the Internet," Wexler said. "We should protect the freedom of law-abiding adults to participate in these great American pastimes."

The McDermott and Wexler bills make a total of four measures proposed so far this year to roll back the federal prohibition against the use of credit cards, checks and other bank instruments to pay for online wagers.

One week after Frank introduced his bill in May, Berkley and Jon Porter, R-Nev., offered legislation calling for a one-year study of Internet gambling by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frank is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which is scheduled to conduct a hearing this morning on his bill.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., a leading opponent of Internet gambling, said he is confident the ban will not be repealed.

"Three hundred and seventeen members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, (D-S.C.), voted for an even stronger ban on Internet gambling than was eventually enacted by Congress," Goodlatte said in a statement.

"Proponents of repealing the ban will have a very tough time overturning that act," he said.

ONLINE WAGERING: Web bet ban repeal supported is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.