Internet Gambling Bill Crashes in the U.S. House

WASHINGTON (07/18/2000) - A bill to prohibit most forms of gambling on the Internet failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday when it was brought up for a vote under special rules.

The bill received 245 votes in favor and 159 against, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage under the special procedure, which allow bills to go to the floor without amendments.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, said he was pleased that the proposal received a yes vote from a majority of House members. Internet gambling is a billion- dollar-a-year business that is growing, and curbs are needed to protect children and communities from the problems of addiction, crime, bankruptcy and family difficulties that are associated with gambling, Goodlatte said in a press release.

Goodlatte's bill would give law enforcement officials tools they need to stop illegal Internet gambling operations by blocking the services. Under the bill, anyone convicted would face a fine and up to four years in prison.

The bill, however, would not affect pari-mutuel betting -- typically for horse or dog races -- as long as it takes place on a closed loop, subscriber-based system and not on the Internet, the release said. The bill also would not affect reporting about gambling or fantasy sports leagues.

The Senate last year unanimously passed a bill similar to Goodlatte's sponsored by Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona. Had the House bill passed, it would have gone to a joint House-Senate conference committee for consideration.

Goodlatte will ask the House leadership to bring the bill up for a vote under normal House rules, which would allow amendments, but require a simple majority for passage, said Michelle Semones, a spokeswoman for Goodlatte.

"We've definitely got the support. We're going to press forward with this bill," Semones said. "It's a big disappointment that it did not pass, but we still have many options."

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