Crime Subcommittee Approves Goodlatte Bil

12 March 2002

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee approved Rep. Bob Goodlatte's anti-Internet gambling bill today.

By a voice vote, the Subcommittee on Crime agreed to favorably report the Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act to the full Judiciary Committee.

The bill, also known as HR 3215, seeks to update the 1961 Interstate Wire Act to make online gambling illegal. Goodlatte, a republican from Virginia, is also proposing to make it unlawful for I-gaming operators to accept payments in the form of credit cards, checks and Internet transfers for illegal online gambling transactions.

The bill, initially proposed Nov. 1, 2001, faces competition from a number of other bills that aim to prohibit Internet gambling in the United States. Among those competitors are HR 556, a bill proposed by Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa, and HR 2579, put forth by Rep. John LaFalce, D-N.Y.

On Monday the American Gaming Association came out against Goodlatte's bill. AGA president Frank Fahrenkopf wrote Goodlatte a three-page letter telling Goodlatte that changes made to the bill would be detrimental to AGA members.

While Goodlatte's bill would update the Wire Act to include technology including the Internet, thus making betting and gambling via the Internet illegal, the bill would ultimately allow states to license and regulate Internet gambling sites so long as the state can make sure the activity stays within the borders of the state and is not extended to minors.

"We leave to the states the power to regulate Internet gambling if they are able to meet those two criteria," Goodlatte said at today's hearing.

Before voting on the measure, the Crime Subcommittee voted to amend the bill with a substitute put forth by Goodlatte. His amendment offered three main changes, he said. The first clarifies that fantasy sports would not be made illegal by the bill because they are based on skill, not luck. Second, a change was made relating to state lotteries' ability to continue to transmit data to out-of-state lottery service vendors using the Internet. Third, Goodlatte said, a provision was added to allow law enforcement to remove Web sites practicing illegal activities from the given Internet Service Providers.

At one point during the hearing, Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., asked whether casinos run by American Indian tribes would have the same rights under the proposed law as casinos run by commercial interests. Goodlatte replied that under his bill, Indian casinos would be able to offer Internet gambling, but customers would have to travel to the given reservation to partake.

Anne Lindner can be reached at