To: ComVest Research (164 ) |
From: Prosperous Soul Saturday, Jun 13 1998 10:10PM ET
Reply # of 2300
DOJ: Gaming bill too broad
By Dan Goodin
Staff Writer, CNET NEWS.COM
June 12, 1998, 5:45 p.m. PT
A bill pending in the Senate that would prohibit Net
gambling is inconsistent, overly broad, and subject
to constitutional and other legal challenges, an
attorney for the Justice Department said.
The comments, made in a letter sent at the request
of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), are the latest
criticism of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act,
sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona). Kyl has
said bill is needed so that existing gambling
laws--which prohibit the transmission of interstate
bets via wire communications--can keep pace with
the growing use of the Internet.
But critics have charged that the bill goes well
beyond that, carving out prohibitions that would be
singular to Internet gamblers. The Justice
Department's letter, authored by assistant attorney
general L. Anthony Sutin, agreed.
"If this legislation were to be enacted, the federal
criminal law would significantly differ in the way it
treats two individuals who place identical wagers
with the same recipient, depending on what method
of transmission the bettors use," Sutin stated.
"Legislation should, absent some articulable reason,
treat physical activity and cyberactivity in the same
Specifically, Sutin wrote, Kyl's bill would apply to
any person using the Internet or other interactive
devices to take or place wagers. Existing laws
apply only to people "in the business of betting or
wagering." As a result, people who engaged in
so-called fantasy football or office pools might be
guilty of federal offenses under the new law,
according to Sutin.
The assistant attorney general went on to criticize
other provisions in the bill that he said would create
problems, including one calling on the president to
encourage foreign countries to police their
jurisdictions for violations of the law.
"If we request that foreign countries investigate, on
our behalf, conduct that is legal in the foreign state,
we must be prepared to receive and act upon
foreign requests for assistance when the conduct
complained of is legal, or even constitutionally
protected, in the United States," Sutin explained.
He also challenged as potentially unconstitutional
some "vague" language in the bill that could be
"construed to apply to persons who do not have
the intent to participate in or assist illegal gambling
Critics of Internet gambling prohibition immediately
hailed Sutin's letter as vindication for their position.
"It's a very detailed analysis that not only points out
all the flaws in the specific legislation but bolsters
our argument, which is to come up with a
regulatory scheme," said Sue Schneider, editor of
Rolling Good Times Online, an online gambling
magazine. She pointed to legislation Australia
recently enacted that places strict regulatory
oversight on Internet gambling, rather than banning
Kyl's office issued a statement that promised to
"examine" Sutin's comments "to see if they are
constructive." The bill already has been modified to
allow online horse betting and state lotteries. The
statement did not say whether the senator was
open to further changes.
"The Justice Department appears to agree with the
goal of and need for the legislation," the statement
noted. "In addition, the department admits that 'the
Internet may have diminished' the effectiveness of
current gambling statutes and that it supports
'amending the federal gambling statutes.'"