New bill would outlaw online gambling, heads to Congress this week

Sarah Silbert
S. Silbert|03.26.14

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New bill would outlaw online gambling, heads to Congress this week

The US government may have opposed extensive net neutrality laws and regulation of ISPs in the past, but when it comes to online gambling, several politicians are calling for the ban hammer. If Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have their way, it will soon be illegal to play slots on your smartphone. Today, the two introduced legislation to outlaw internet betting -- excluding fantasy sports and horse racing -- asserting that the activity is a potential national security threat, among other things. Gambling sites, co-sponsor Senator Dianne Feinstein claims, often don't screen for underage players. Supports of the legislation also cite the lack of oversight for criminal acts such as identity theft and money-laundering, and they naturally invoke gambling addiction as well. Notably, Las Vegas Sands titan Sheldon Adelson is supporting the bill.

Online gambling is currently legal, in one form or another, in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's home state of California is currently considering legalizing it as well. Online betting only became legal in certain states in 2011, after the Justice Department's reversal of interpretation of the Wire Act. Chaffetz and Graham's bill would reinstate the original interpretation of the act, effectively banning internet gambling throughout the country. The bill will be introduced in Congress this week. Meanwhile, you can enjoy this PSA from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

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