Well, it was clear from the July 28 Senate subcommittee hearing on the
Kyl bill (prohibition of internet gambling) that any actual dialogue or
discussion in our nation's captial on this issue will not be tolerated.
Here's the line-up: a Senator from Nevada; an Attorney General from
Wisconsin; a representative from the National Football League; a woman from
the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion and an attorney who
represents a number of big name gaming interests in Las Vegas. What might
they think of internet gambling???? Let me guess.
As you'll see from an accompanying news release, there wasn't even the
inkling of an opportunity for anyone representing interactive gaming nor its
consumers to say a word about the bill.
But that didn't stop the Interactive Gaming Council from submitting
written testimony on the topic.
Actually, as sideshows go, this one was pretty entertaining. Senator
Kyl couldn't be joined by any of the six other Senators on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information so he had to
go it alone.
He began by announcing some important changes to the bill (we're still
waiting to get the text of that revised bill). Probably the most important to
you, the potential consumer of online gambling services, is that you've
gotten a bit of a reprieve. Now, if you're found guilty of making that
friendly wager online, you'll only have to pay a fine of only $2,500 instead
of $5,000. And you'll only go to jail for six months instead of a year.
But, the Senator, obviously a wagerer himself said he added the term
"professional" gambling operations so as not to prevent him from placing a
friendly wager with a long-distance pal via email.
Operators of sites found guilty under this federal law, however, will
now receive harsher penalties. This was raised from a $10,000 fine to a
$20,000 fine and from two years in prison to four years in prison.
The bill has also been changed to allow the US to enter into
international treaties with other countries on the issue. Not having seen
the new language yet, we can only presume this would be done only with those
countries who see things the way the U.S. does.
AG Doyle from Wisconsin's staff was busy surfing the net recently and
prepared a little videotape for the hearings . They showed a number of
internet gambling sites (including WagerNet which has never taken a wager,
BlackJack Time which is a contest as well as a number which are just beta
testing right now....but, hey, why quibble!)
The hearing had its lighter moments in spite of the gloom and doom about
how bad internet betting is for you and how it can't be regulated so it must
be banned! One episode that got a few laughs included Rolling Good Times
OnLine. AG Doyle showed the magazine and featured the famous headline of our
own Nambling Man from Down Under, Glen Barry. When N.A.A.G. Report is
C.R.A.P. showed up on the screen, the standing room crowd got a good laugh
(Hey, Glenn, those guys are very senstive about that).
Then the AG proceeded to inform Senator Kyl about the IGN/WSEX pool
where, for fun, you can predict the outcome of the Kyl bill passing. Even
the Senator was gracious enough to laugh at that one. Later on, Doyle again
referenced the Kyl bill pool saying it was a "sucker bet" if people thought
it wouldn't pass.
In terms of content, the main message of these folks is that internet
gambling can Not be regulated so it must be prohibited. Folks in the
industry, of course, beg to differ. They also scoffed at the idea of
self-regulation with the gentleman from the NFL calling it the "fox watching
But, historically, many new innovations in the gaming industry have
started out with self-regulation. It seems gaming regulators are pretty
overburdened and don't always have the time to develop regs for cutting edge
products. As new products come online, standards are routinely developed by
the industry and handed over to regulators to adapt when the time is right.
This is no different.
Those were the highlights. As IGN is able to get its hands on other
written documents pertaining to this hearing, it will post them for you to
peruse. It's uncertain at this point, when a subcommittee vote will be
In the mean time, it's time for you to get off your duff. Click here to
get the Congressional email list and just do it!
UPDATE - IGN also obtained a copy of the Senate Subcommittee testimony from Las Vegas attorney, Tony Cabot, who actually got to speak. Those of you who love the complicated legal arguments which abound about online gambling, take a look at this.