Bush to sign security bill, gambling act next Friday

According to a Dow Jones report, President George W. Bush is expected to sign the Security and Accountability For Every (SAFE) Port Act, which includes the attached online gambling ban legislation, next Friday.

The U.S. Congress passed the amended version of H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Sept. 30, after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R - Tenn.) was able to attach it to the SAFE Port Act, H.R. 4954. Passing the act was one of Congress' final actions before taking a break for the mid-term elections taking place in November.

The port security bill is designed to keep nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons out of shipping containers on their way to the United States and is unrelated to the UIGEA, which prohibits players from using U.S. financial institutions and their banking tools to deposit or withdraw funds at Internet gambling sites. It does not, however, criminalize the act of online gambling.

On Sept. 29 before the bill was passed, Frist gave the following statement on the Senate floor in regards to the online gambling legislation being added to the SAFE Port Act:

"Mr. President, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the Internet Gambling provision included in the Port Security conference report.

"For 10 years, we've grappled with the issue. And in 10 years time we've watched the incidence of online gambling explode. It has mushroomed from a $30 million industry in 1996 to a $12 billion industry today. And the sad fact is it's growing. The American Gambling Association estimates that Internet gambling will continue to increase at the clip of 20% a year.

"For too many Americans, gambling is a serious addiction. It's an addiction that undermines the family, dashes dreams, and frays the fabric of a moral society.

"The bottom line is that it's illegal. But most Americans don't know that. It's our responsibility to remind them that it is. The only way we can do that is to put teeth in the laws already on the books through effective enforcement.

"While it's impractical to monitor every online gambler in America - and impossible to regulate offshore Internet sites - it is feasible to police the financial institutions that complete the transactions. And that's the intention of the provision included in the Port Security conference report. I hope you'll join me in supporting this effort to crackdown on underage and illegal gambling."

The original H.R. 4411 also sought to update the Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits gambling over telephone wires, to include placing wagers over the Internet on sports betting, casino games, and poker.

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