Q & A: Robert Goodlatte

1 November 2001
Hoping to finally clear up the gray area surrounding online gaming in America, U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va, today introduced his "Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act," a bill that will likely be sent to committee by week's end. Hours after announcing his newest legislative plan to broaden the scope of the Federal Wire Act to include Internet gambling and other technologies of the modern era, Rep. Goodlatte spoke briefly with IGN.

IGN: Will the Nevada initiative be able to move forward if your bill is passed, or will this trump any state's wish to regulate online gaming?

Robert Goodlatte: This is the same treatment of the Nevada law as we had in the last Congress. All that law does is allow the gaming commission in Nevada to explore the possibility of intrastate Internet gambling. This only deals with interstate and international online gaming.

They can continue to go ahead with anything they want to do within the state, however, if it allows one person outside of the state to participate in Internet gambling in Nevada it can be prosecuted by the attorney general of any other state in which that happened. If they allow any gambling by a minor, even in the state of Nevada, they could be subject to prosecution for that.

IGN: Do you see Nevada moving forward then?

RG: It allows them to go forward with that, but as you probably know there is absolutely no way for the technology of today to determine whether the person at the other end of the machine is in the state, number one, or under the age of 18, number two.

I never thought that Nevada initiative had any meaning whatsoever, but we do not effect that with this legislation. They are welcome to do whatever they want to do in the state of Nevada as long as they comply with those two requirements.

IGN: Is there any plan or intention to merge your bill with the LaFalce bill?

RG: There is no question that will ultimately happen. My bill contains the same principles that the LaFalce bill contains except that they are broader.

They allow any attorney general or any prosecutor anywhere in the United States to get a court order requiring anybody to cooperate with them, not just banks, credit card companies and Paypal, but any of them.

IGN: In light of everything that happened in September and the allegations of money laundering in Internet gambling, is there more support for you bill on Capitol Hill now than there was maybe a year or two ago?

RG: This has always had a lot of support. As you know, in the last Congress 61 percent of the House members voted for it, but we were required to bring it under a rule that required a two-thirds vote.

You needed two-thirds majority last time because you didn't put the bill up for debate, will you be taking a different route with this one before it goes to the full House?

We don't expect that to happen this time since one committee (Financial Services) has already reported out the bill and we expect the Judiciary committee to report it out some time.

We don't know the exact time frame with the Judiciary committee, we don't know if it will be before or after we recess for the end of the year, it just depends on how many more weeks we are in session for.

Eventually we think this bill will pass. It has a lot of support from a wide spread group of people and it is bipartisan.

IGN: That said, do you have a time frame for when you would like to see this go before the full House for a vote?

As soon as possible, but the question of when will depend upon how long we stay in session.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.