Representative Barney Frank last week introduced a bill that would make gambling on the Internet legal in the United States. The bill would require all Internet gambling sites to be licensed by the Treasury Department. They would be regulated to make sure the games are fair, and that children are not allowed to gamble.
Congress passed what amounted to a gambling ban in 2006, as part of legislation that prohibits banks from accepting payments from credit cards, checks or electronic transfers to settle gambling debts.
Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who opposed the 2006 bill, feels it's time to change the law, saying it "will enable Americans to bet online and put an end to inappropriate interference with their personal freedom." He has an ally in?Nevada Representative Shelley Berkely, whose district includes Las Vegas. "What we have now is an unworkable law passed by those who oppose gaming, whether it's done by adults in Las Vegas or on the Internet."
But those opponents are not about to give up, They include the National Football League, which says Internet gambling threatens the integrity of its games. Family groups are also taking up the fight. "Research finds that problem gambling is three to four times higher with Internet gamblers than non-Internet gamblers," said Chad Hills, analyst for gambling research and policy at Focus on the Family Action. "But Barney Frank doesn't care. He continues to push policy legalizing the most predatory, addictive and exploitive form of gambling to invade 91 million U.S. homes using the Internet."
Even if the bill passes in the House, it faces a major obstacle in the Senate. A similar bill has not been introduced there, and Majority Leader Harry Reid says he is against Internet gambling.
Gambling is a $16 billion a year business on the Internet, mostly on overseas sites. It's estimated that U.S. bettors amount for half of the bottom line of those sites.