Goodlatte Bill Reported out of Subcommitte

3 November 1999
The House Crime Subcommittee met this morning to mark-up H.R. 3125, the Goodlatte Internet gambling legislation. While the bill was ultimately reported out of the subcommittee, it was evident to those in attendance that the bill was not really ready for prime time.

Chaiman Bill McCollum began by reading a press release in which he discussed the need to target offshore casino operators. Following McCollum's opening statement, each of the three Democrats on the panel announced that they could not support reporting the bill out of subcommittee.

Ranking Democrat Bobby Scott said that he felt more hearings were necessary at the subcommittee level to determine whether the Goodlatte bill would actually work to keep internet gambling under control.

Rep. Marty Meehan then weighed in on the hypocrisy of the pari-mutuel exemptions, which would allow for in-home gambling. He also raised issues relating to the need for language exempting Indian gaming.

Finally, Rep. Steve Rothman said that he had an issue which he had discussed at the staff level that had not been dealt with. Like Sen. Bob Torricelli, Rothman wants the law to allow state regulators to prevent New Jersey residents from betting on horse tracks outside the state.

In addition, Republican, Rep. Charles Canady, spoke up to discuss whether the fantasy sports carve-out was appropriate.

As each of these concerns arose, Chairman McCollum begged that each member hold his amendments until full committee mark-up, to give his staff time to address all of the problems. While that request was honored by almost all of the subcommittee members, Rep. Bobby Scott offered an amendment that would have reimposed liability on casual bettors. The Scott amendment was ultimately withdrawn, although he plans to offer it again when the legislation makes it to full committee.

H.R. 3125 was reported out of subcommittee with a favorable recommendation. However, the vote was along party lines. All five of the Republicans supported it, while all three of the Democrats opposed.

The following members of Congress were in attendance:

McCollum (chairman of the subcommittee) (R-FL) Gekas (R-PA)
Canady (R-FL)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Smith (R-TX)

Scott (D-VA)
Meehan (D-MASS)
Rothman (D-NJ)

The legislation now moves onto the full Judiciary Committee for consideration. It likely won't be taken up this year.

If the Judiciary Committee completes work on the bill, it may be referred to the Resources Committee, where Chairman Don Young (R-AR) will have a shot at including tribal provisions. That referral may come in anywhere from seven to 30 legislative days.