Statement in the Congressional Record by Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
Re: Introduction of HR 3125, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999.

Date: October 21, 1999.
Source: Congressional Record, October 21, 1999, page E2153.

in the House of Representatives

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999, along with my colleagues, Representative Frank LoBiondo, Representative Frank Wolf, Representative Rick Boucher, Representative Jim Gibbons, and Representative Virgil Goode. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to see this legislation signed into law. I would also like to thank my friend in the other Chamber, Senator Jon Kyl for his leadership on this issue. The legislation that Mr. LoBiondo and I are introducing today is similar to legislation which Representative LoBiondo, and I introduced in the last Congress. I am also looking forward to working with Senator Kyl, who has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The Internet is a revolutionary tool that dramatically affects the way we communicate, conduct business, and access information. As it knows no boundaries, the Internet is accessed by folks in rural and urban areas alike, in large countries as well as small. The Internet is currently expanding by leaps and bounds; however, it has not yet come close to reaching its true potential as a medium for commerce and communication.

One of the main reasons that the Internet has not reached this potential is that many folks view it as a wild frontier, with no safeguards to protect children and no legal infrastructure to prevent online criminal activity. The ability of the world wide web to penetrate every home and community across the globe has both positive and negative implications--while it can be an invaluable source of information and means of communication, it can also override community values and standards, subjecting them to whatever may or may not be found online. In short, the Internet is a challenge to the sovereignty of civilized communities, States, and nations to decide what is appropriate and decent behavior.

Gambling is an excellent example of this situation. It is illegal unless regulated by the States. With the development of the Internet, however, prohibitions and regulations governing gambling have been turned on their head. No longer do people have to leave the comfort of their homes and make the affirmative decision to travel to a casino--they can access the casino from their living rooms.

The legislation I am introducing today will protect the right of citizens in each State to decide through their State legislatures if they want to allow gambling within their borders and not have that right taken away by offshore, fly-by-night operators. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act gives law enforcement the tools it needs to crack down on illegal Internet gambling operations by accomplishing two main goals: first, providing that anyone convicted of running an Internet gambling business is liable for a substantial fine and up to 4 years in prison; and second, giving law enforcement the ability to request cessation of service to web sites engaging in illegal gambling, with enforcement by court order if necessary. Additionally, the bill requires the Attorney General to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of its provisions.

It is also important to note that this legislation does not preempt any State laws, does not cover online new reporting about gambling, and does not apply to wagering over non-Internet closed networks in States that allow such activity. The bill simply brings the current prohibition against interstate gambling up to speed with the development of new technology, as the Internet had not been created when the original law was passed and thus is no covered by it.

Mr. Speaker, online gambling is currently a $200 million per year business, and could easily grow to a $1 billion business in the next few years. It is time to shine a bright light on Internet gambling in this country, and to put a stop to this situation before it gets any worse. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which will keep children from borrowing the family credit card, logging on to the family computer, and losing thousands of dollars all before their parents get home from work, will do just that. I urge each of my colleagues to support the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999.