A Clear and Present Danger

16 May 2001
(as reported by Harness Tracks of America)

The Amateur Sports Integrity Act (S.718), introduced by senators John McCain of Arizona and Sam Brownback of Kansas, may at first glance seem of little interest to racing, concerning as it does a proposed ban on betting on Olympic, college and scholastic sports. The American Horse Council points out, however, that the Senate Commerce Committee, in marking up the bill, added a credit-prohibition provision introduced by senator John Breaux of Louisiana, which clearly affects racing.

Adopted by voice vote, the legislation would prohibit a financial institution from collecting on credit card debt if it knows the debt was incurred by someone gambling illegally over the Internet. It is intended to stop unlawful Internet gambling by putting the burden on credit card companies to ensure they are not transmitting money to an unlawful Internet gaming operator.

It is interesting that the issue of the legality of Internet gaming was discussed at length yesterday in the Nevada Senate, where Tony Cabot, a Las Vegas lawyer and expert on Internet law, testified previously that the federal Wire Act does not apply to Internet gambling. Cabot cited a Louisiana federal court opinion that the Wire Act does not apply to games of chance.

Cabot said, "Clearly we can adequately regulate Internet gaming. The system we have in the United States and Nevada will allow for a safe place for gamblers to go and know they are going to get paid if they win."

He also said that unregulated gambling will continue to exist, and "it is not feasible to say we can regulate what goes on in Costa Rica."

The head of Nevada's Gaming Control Board said some meeting of minds with the Justice Department needed to be reached: "We don't want to give our licensees the OK and then have them indicted by the federal government."