Goodlatte Introduces Net Gambling Prohibition Bill

(October 25, 1999) Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in the House on Thursday, October 21. He sponsored a similar bill in the previous Congress. It is based on the Senate version of the bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl.

Related Pages
Tech Law Journal Summary of Internet Gambling Bills.
HR 3125 IH, Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999.
Statement by Rep. Goodlatte in Congressional Record, 10/21/99.

HR 3125 IH is Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) second attempt to pass an Internet gambling bill. He introduced HR 2380 (105th) in the last Congress. That bill was a straight ban on Internet gambling. It never got out of committee.

HR 3125 IH is based on S 692 RS, which was introduced by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July. However, Rep. Goodlatte's bill adds further revisions.

The current bill provides a large number of exceptions and qualifications which make the bill more appealing to many existing gambling industry interests. It also contains detailed language covering the obligations and immunities of interactive computer services, including Internet service providers and web site hosting companies.

The bill bans the use of the Internet or any other interactive computer service to place, receive, or otherwise make a bet or wager, or to send, receive, or invite information assisting in the placing of a bet or wager.

It would fine violators the total amount that such person bet or wagered, or placed, received, or accepted in bets or wagers, or $20,000, whichever is greater. The violator could also be imprisoned for up to four years.

Related Story: Net Gambling Bills Protect Established Gambling Interests, 10/25/99.

The current bill affects only gambling businesses, and not individual gamblers. It provides exceptions for state run lotteries, fantasy sports leagues, parimutuel betting, and gambling businesses which are legal in their states. It would also exempt small non continuous gambling operations. Also, legal gambling operations would be permitted to use the Internet to advertise and transfer data.

The one big loser under the bill is online or virtual casinos.

However, Internet service providers and web hosting companies, which could be required to take actions to facilitate law enforcement efforts to enjoin violations of the law, will also be affected.

Rep. Bob

"Having a casino in one's home only encourages gambling addicts and sparks the interest of children," said Rep. Goodlatte in a press release. "It is time to shine a bright light on gambling in this country and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet."

"Online gambling must be stopped before it develops any further. This legislation protects the rights 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," said Rep. Goodlatte.

Rep. Goodlatte also submitted a statement in the Congressional Record. In it he added:

"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."

The original cosponsors of the bill are Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Virgil Goode (D-VA), Rep. Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ) and Rep. James Gibbons (R-NV).

Rep. Lobiondo represents Atlantic City. Rep. Gibbons represents Las Vegas and Reno. These three towns hold the largest concentrations of land based gambling casinos in the United States.

The bill will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Boucher sit, and its Crime Subcommittee.

Related Stories

Senate Passes Internet Gambling Ban, 7/24/98.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Internet Gambling, 3/24/99.
Sen. Kyl Introduces Internet Gambling Bill, 3/30/99.
Net Gambling Bills Protect Established Gambling Interests, 10/25/99.
Gambling Industry Congressional Contributions, 10/25/99.