Two weeks ago, Republican Representative from Iowa, Jim Leach, introduced H.R. 4411 to Congress, a bill aimed at outlawing Internet gambling in the United States. PokerListings.com has obtained a copy of Leach's opening statement to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, which has since cleared the proposal for review in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. The full speech has been reprinted below. It is dated March 15, 2006.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman:
For nearly a decade, many in the Congress have sought to deter Internet gambling. But time and again the issue has been stymied - often in ways that reflect imperfectly on this institution.
While Congress has failed to act, the illegal Internet gambling industry has boomed. This year, Americans are projected to send approximately $6 billion to unregulated, offshore, online casinos, half of the $12 billion that will be bet worldwide on Internet gambling. FBI and Justice Department experts have warned that Internet gambling sites are often fronts for money laundering, drug trafficking and even terrorist financing. Further, these sites evade rigorous U.S.-based regulations that control gambling by minors and problem gamblers, and ensure the integrity of the games.
Internet gambling's characteristics are unique: online players can gamble 24 hours a day from home; children may play without sufficient age verification; and betting with a credit card can undercut a player's perception of the value of cash, leading to addiction, bankruptcy and crime. Unlike in brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States where legal protections for bettors exist and where there is some compensatory social benefit in jobs and tax revenues, Internet gambling sites principally yield only liabilities to America and to Americans.
H.R. 4411 will create strong tools to help federal and state governments enforce existing gambling prohibitions; it has been designed to cut the money flow from gamblers to Internet gambling sites by prohibiting the use of banking instruments such as credit cards, checks or fund transfers to be used to settle wagers.
Finally, I would like to note that in the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte has offered a complementary measure, one that would amend the Wire Act, a subject outside the jurisdiction of this committee. This approach makes sense to me. I am hopeful it will receive sympathetic review in the Judiciary Committee and that this additional approach can be considered as this measure moves forward.
Mr. Chairman, the time has come for Congress to finally deal with this subject matter. It is a measure supported by the NFL, NBA, MLP, NHL, the NCAA, the financial services industry and family groups.
I also want to express appreciation for the leadership of Chairman Oxley. As a former FBI agent, he has long had an interest in this subject.
For details on the approval of H.R. 4411, please see U.S. House Committee Clears Anti-Internet Gambling Bill.