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Online Gambling Stirs Debate, Legislation

The Interactive Gaming Council is calling on Americans to petition U.S. senators to reject the “Leach Bill,” calling it “an unprecedented invasion of privacy to require financial institutions to sort through every transaction you make and try to determine which ones might violate someone else’s moral standards.”

“Popular lore proclaims that the two most reliable moneymakers on the Internet target the basic human drives of sex and greed—that is, pornography and gambling,” according to Wired.com. “The reality is likely not that simple, but there’s certainly a tremendous quantity of both available on a vast array of websites, as well as in spam, banners and pop-up ads.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Many are familiar with efforts by advocacy groups and government bodies to regulate Internet pornography and especially to protect children from exposure to pornography and exploitation by pornographers. But Internet gambling has had its place on legislative dockets as well.
The U.S. Federal Wire Act, enacted around 40 years ago, “allegedly bans Internet sports gambling across state lines (with some exceptions now for off-track horse race betting),” according to Wired.com. “Its applicability to non-sports betting is problematic and the subject of continuing debate and court activity.”
However, the United States has had little success prosecuting online gambling institutions because most keep their business and servers out of the country.
Since the United States can’t seem to punish the gambling establishments, they are hitting the next closest target, said Wired.com: the financial institutions that accept users’ credit cards, debit cards or bank account transfers as payment for bets.
The U.S. House of Represenatatives passed a bill in October that makes it illegal not only to run an online gambling operation, but also to process payment for a gaming site.
The bill, drafted by Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), bars the use of credit cards, wire transfers, checks and potentially any other transaction that “involves a financial institution” for online betting.
CNN.com recently asked its viewers whether Internet gambling should be banned. Seventy-six percent of poll respondents said gambling online should be allowed.
The Interactive Gaming Council is calling on Americans to petition U.S. senators to reject the “Leach Bill,” calling it “an unprecedented invasion of privacy to require financial institutions to sort through every transaction you make and try to determine which ones might violate someone else’s moral standards.”
The IGC said on its site that “wagering is a personal decision, and millions of Americans do it harmlessly; in fact the largest processor of wagers are state lotteries, sponsored by the state governments themselves.”
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.