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Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Goodlatte's Internet Gambling Prohibition Act

Location: Washington, DC


Washington, DC: Today the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing on the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, legislation introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte. This bipartisan legislation will crack down on the growing problem of illegal, offshore gambling, as well as illegal gambling that crosses state lines over phone lines and Internet technologies. These activities suck billions of dollars per year out of the U.S. economy, serve as a vehicle for money laundering, undermine families, and threaten the ability of states to enact and enforce their own laws.

"I have been continuously committed to curbing gambling on the Internet," said Rep. Goodlatte. "While gambling is currently illegal in the United States unless regulated by the states, the development of the Internet has made gambling easily accessible. It is common for illegal gambling businesses to operate freely until law enforcement finds and stops them."

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act cracks down on illegal gambling by updating the Wire Act to clarify that it covers all forms of interstate gambling, such as lotteries and poker, and account for new technologies. Under current federal law, it is unclear whether using the Internet to operate a gambling business is illegal. The closest useful statute currently is the Wire Act, which prohibits gambling over telephone wires. The Wire Act, which was written well before the invention of the World Wide Web, has become outdated. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act amends the Wire Act to make it clear that the prohibitions include Internet gambling and the use of other new technologies.

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act allows states to continue to regulate gambling within their borders with tight controls to be sure that it does not extend beyond their borders or to minors. It also prohibits a gambling business from accepting certain forms of payment, including credit cards, checks, wire and Internet transfers, in illegal gambling transactions. The legislation also allows federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials to seek injunctions to prevent and restrain violations of this Act and obtain cooperation in the fight against illegal gambling.

Additionally, this legislation increases the maximum prison term for a violation of this Act from 2 years to 5 years.

Goodlatte continued, "The Internet has transformed the way we communicate, how we work, the things we buy and the way we buy them. The expansion of the Internet has created thousands of new businesses, tens of thousands of new jobs and made our lives more efficient. However, some unfortunate challenges, such as illegal gambling on the Internet, have accompanied this explosive growth and it is time to bring an end to these illegal activities."

Witnesses at today's Judiciary Committee hearing included Representative Bob Goodlatte, Bruce Ohr, Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, John W. Kindt, University of Illinois professor and Sam Vallandingham, Vice President/Chief Information Office of The First State Bank.

According to testimony given at today's hearing by Mr. Bruce Ohr of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Justice supports the efforts of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act because the legislation amends an existing criminal statute and it applies equally to wagering over the Internet and over the telephone. The Department of Justice believes this legislation strengthens the Wire Act and assures its continued viability into the future. Additionally, Mr. Ohr testified that H.R. 4777 provides law enforcement with a method to cut off the transfer of funds to and from illegal Internet gambling businesses.

"Illegal online gambling doesn't just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serves as a vehicle for money laundering," stated Goodlatte. "It is time to shine a bright light on theses illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet and I applaud the Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on this important legislation."

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