A New Threat

4 August 2000
Internet gambling is once again under legislative assault. Leading the charge this time are reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Chris Cannon (R-UT). Working with the U.S. Department of Justice and at the behest of the Clinton Administration, Representatives Conyers and Cannon have introduced a new Bill that, like its counterpart offered by Sen. Kyl and Rep. Goodlatte, would prohibit the acceptance of wagers over the Internet. However, unlike the Goodlatte bill, which is hamstrung by carve-outs and new burdens on ISPs, the Cannon-Conyers bill is a straight amendment to the Wire Act.

In essence the new bill--HR 5020--will make it illegal under federal law to conduct any gambling conducted on the Web. The danger with this bill is that it could pass. Unlike the Goodlatte legislation, the Cannon-Conyers bill will unite anti-gambling conservatives, moderate and liberal Democrats, and those seeking to keep the government from regulating the net.

As a result, there is cause for concern that HR 5020 could be put on the fast track in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and reach the President's desk this fall. Given that it contains neither special interest exemptions for the horse and dog racing industries nor the additional regulatory burdens on ISPs, President Clinton is likely to support the new legislation.

Because there is still significant time to pass legislation this year, those who do not want to see this bill passed are being urged to contact their members of Congress as soon as possible. Tell them to keep their hands off the Internet, and out of our computers. Interested parties are encouraged to send faxes to Congress (free of charge) by going to www.profreedom.com.