DOJ Denounces 3125

17 July 2000
The clock is ticking before a final vote on H.R. 3125, which is likely to be voted upon this evening in the House of Representatives, following debate this afternoon. While a copy of the actual changes to the bill is unavailable before the vote, Rep. Goodlatte announced last week that language had been added so that the bill does not expand gambling on the Internet. The modification presumably clarifies that the bill prohibits all online gambling and only otherwise lawful State-regulated live pari-mutuel wagering activities that are conducted on a closed loop, subscriber-based system, not on the open Internet, are permitted.

In a nutshell, if the bill passes with this language, it will be up to the racing industry to prove on a state-by-state basis that closed-loop pari-mutuel wagering was already legal under pre-3125 laws. If the industry were successful in proving this, legal online pari-mutuel wagering would be grandfathered in and thus would not be an expansion of gambling. Ironically, one of the few things legislators have agreed upon in debates last month is that some sort of bill is necessary because pre-3125 laws don't properly cover new technologies such as the Internet.

Already there's been an outcry against the latest version of the House version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. The Free Congress Foundation immediately let their displeasure with the new language known. "Some of these members come from very conservative and religious districts and so they want to be able to say they are doing something about Internet Gambling," explained foundation VP Lisa Dean, "but they took the easy way out and turned to the courts to solve many of the problems."

Most recently, Robert Raben, the Assistant Attorney General from the Department of Justice wrote to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert explaining that the bill would make certain types of gambling legal over the Internet that are not legal in the physical world. Additionally, the DOJ suggests that the bill may bring even murkier enforcement issues in its wake, and would be inconsistent with current Federal gambling laws.

Click here to read the complete letter from the Department of Justice.