Opening statement of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
Re: HR 3125, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999.
Event: House Telecom Subcommittee hearing on HR 3125.
Date: June 15, 2000.
Source: Tech Law Journal transcribed from an audio recording of the hearing.

See also, Tech Law Journal summary of Internet gambling bills.

I think the bill has serious implications for e-commerce, and the whole issue of regulation of the Internet, so I think that it is important that we have a chance to review these issues. I want to compliment Mr. Goodlatte and our colleagues for their efforts to attempt to protect society from the dangers of gambling and the abuses that are sometimes associated with it. It can be a corrosive agent. And it is frequently a manifestation of addictive behavior.

But I do think that the bill is deeply flawed. And I want to make some comments about where and how I think that it is flawed. It prohibits some types of gambling, and it actually expands other kinds. It puts an inappropriate burden, in my view, on high technology companies. And, it also interferes with civil liberties of the American people.

I think the legislation is rife with loopholes, which appear to be the result of special interest lobbying, which isn't new around here -- but it is still rife with it.

Betting on horses and dogs is OK. Sports and casino still games are out. Jai alai is in; State lotteries are out. It is a patchwork of exemptions and prohibitions which seemed to be based on the degree of power of a particular interest group, rather than good public policy. After all, if gambling on the Internet is wrong, then gambling on the Internet is wrong, period.

So, I think that we have a long ways to go to fill these gaps.

I am going to be a little harsh here. But, I am still going to express my disappointment with the NCAA and the NFL on their somewhat strident views on this issue. I hear a lot of concern that Internet gambling would pose to the values of young athletes and the integrity that sports have. But it seems to me that there are other practices that are tolerated by collegiate and professional sports organizations that pose a far greater risk of failing to instill the kind of values that we want to instill in young people. Today, big time athletes are given special dorms. They eat at training tables. They are allowed to pre-register for courses. And they frequently enjoy relaxed academic standards. And some even fail to graduate.

So, I think, you know, if we are going to broaden the lens here, that we need to take all of this in and really be honest about this as we approach this. I know that the NFL is here today to testify about the threat of Internet gambling to young people, but I also think that they need to look within their ranks and really take a good hard look at what they can do there with some of their players.

Finally, the bill seeks to put regulatory boundaries on the Internet. And I think that we need to take a look at whether these views are shortsighted, and also take into consideration civil liberties. The notice and the take down provisions, in my view, are overly broad. They are too burdensome for ISPs. And, I think that they give the government too much power. The blocking provisions in the legislation intrude on individual privacy. They attempt to put artificial boundaries on the Internet, when the Internet is designed specifically to transcend boundaries.

So, Mr. Chairman, I think that we have a lot of work to do. I think that we have some miles to go, and some places to see. I think that the bill has a long ways to go. And I think that we have a lot of work to do. I welcome the witnesses. And, I look forward to hearing their testimony. And, I thank you, and the Chairman of the full Committee for making sure that we have a hearing on the bill.