WASHINGTON (BP)–Internet gambling poses new dangers to American families and the economy, lawmakers say, and new legislation aims to prohibit such transactions and punish those who take part in or facilitate the transactions.
“The social and economic implications of Internet gambling can no longer be ignored,” said Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa), in testimony given before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and reported in CNSNews.com
“Problem gamblers are more likely to have drug addictions, alcohol dependency, serious family dysfunction, and, at the extreme, especially when gambling losses accumulate, a higher rate of suicide,” he said.
Leach said Internet gambling sends money to overseas casinos whose owners are often “shady or unknown.”
“The financial and economic implications of Internet gambling may not be intuitive to those unfamiliar with the workings of the industry, but the consequences cannot be exaggerated,” he said. “It is simply not good for the economy at large to have Americans send billions to overseas Internet casinos which often have shady or unknown owners.”
Leach is the sponsor of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, which concentrates on unlawful Internet gambling and provides law enforcement with the tools necessary to prosecute those who take part in or facilitate gambling.
The legislation targets those who gamble illegally on-line, as well as the banks, credit cards or wire transaction services which knowingly facilitate transactions that make gambling possible.
Currently, law prohibits interstate gambling unless the gambling is done under state supervision. However, over 1,400 Internet gambling sites are offshore, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement. It is estimated that the industry will bring in $1.6 billion in 2001.
Leach’s bill is not alone. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has introduced his own legislation — the Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act.
The bill modernizes legislation introduced thirty years ago by then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, called the Wire Act, which was targeted at organized crime by cracking down on gambling over telephone wires. The old law will be “brought up to speed with the development of new technology.”
Goodlatte said such gambling affects three main groups of people: children, gambling addicts and criminals.
“There are no mechanisms in place to prevent youths — who make up the largest percent of Internet users — from using their parents’ credit card numbers to register and set up accounts for use at Internet gambling sites,” he said. “In addition, pathological gamblers may become easily addicted to online gambling because of the Internet’s easy access, anonymity and instant results.
“Finally Internet gambling can provide a nearly undetectable harbor for criminal enterprises,” he said. “The anonymity associated with the Internet makes on-line gambling more susceptible to crime.”
Doubts were raised, however, about the reality of enforcing such laws. According to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Congress needs to consider the effectiveness of these laws when the transactions by and large take place outside U.S. jurisdiction.
Pierce is a staff writer for www.CNSNews.com. Used by permission.