Panel OKs Internet gambling ban

The Senate Judiciary Committee late last week overwhelmingly approved a bill to prohibit gambling on the Internet. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999 (S. 692) passed the committee 16-1 and moves to the full Senate for debate.

The bill was introduced in March by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to update the Wire Act, legislation passed in 1961 that prohibits interstate gambling on sports by phone or wire. The Kyl bill includes new forms of electronic transmissions of bets, including computers and the Internet.

"Our bill is supported by a broad bipartisan coalition including state, local and federal law enforcement," Kyl said.

The legislation would call for law enforcement agencies to enforce the law by identifying World Wide Web sites that offer gambling, seeking a court order enjoining the activity and requiring Internet service providers to shut down access to the site. The FBI estimates that 350 Web sites offer gambling, with most of those in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

According to a spokesperson for Kyl, many American Indian groups that operate casinos on tribal lands want exempt status from the legislation and the freedom to pursue Internet gambling in the future. Twenty-two states have compacts authorizing American Indians to operate casinos on tribal lands.

The National Conference of State Legislatures will take a close look at the legislation and other gambling issues at its annual conference next month in Indianapolis. The NCSL does not have an official position on Internet gambling.

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