LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Internet Gambling: Congress Takes Notice
Aired June 10, 2003 - 20:26 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just a short while ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill that is supposed to crack down on Internet gambling. But what are the odds that Congress can actually curb what is a booming industry?
CNN's Congressional correspondent Kate Snow reports now from Capitol Hill.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't have to drive to Vegas to gamble. From blackjack to video poker, Americans can play it all on the Internet anonymously. You can even bet on the NBA Finals on more than 1,000 Web sites. The industry is exploding.
This year, Internet gamblers will lose $6 billion, a figure projected to double by 2006. To avoid state laws against online gambling, Web sites are based in places like the Channel Islands, Costa Rica and Gibraltar.
Some Congress say it has to stop.
REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: So these are not nice people. We're talking about $6 billion untaxed, unsupervised. We don't even know who they are although the FBI, the two cases they made, they found that there were money launderers, that they had connection with organized crime. And it's time we put a end to it.
SNOW: Bauchus' bill tells federal regulators to work with banks and credit card companies to cut off gamblers trying to bet on off- shore gambling sites. He's backed by an amazing array of supporters from the NCAA, trying to clean up college sports, to church groups and the groups that represent casinos.
FRANK FAHRENKOPF, AMERICAN GAMING ASSN.: We believe that the technology does not now exist to have proper regulatory control over Internet gambling with appropriate law enforcement oversight. Without that, you can't have any integrity in that type of gaming.
SNOW: But opponents of the measure say there's also a hidden agenda. The bill has a loophole allowing state licensed gambling like horse racing and lotteries to exist online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bill that expands gambling. SNOW: So would the bill in Congress make a difference? Industry watchers say many banks are already doing what the bill requires -- 65 percent of online bets are flagged and stopped. And critics say banks that continue to allow bets wouldn't face any real penalties.
SNOW: But supporters say this bill will have a chilling effect. They say, after years of trying, Anderson, they've not gotten it through the House, which was always a stumbling block in the past. And now, aides say on Capitol Hill, they think it has a pretty good chance of passing in the Senate -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Kate Snow, thanks very much.
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