Online Gambling: Lawmaker Seeks to Crack Down on Illegal Sites

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 12, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, millions have been trying their luck at playing online poker for real money. But, if my next guest has things his way, all those people will be breaking the law. He is trying to pass legislation on Capitol Hill that will prohibit online gambling. And the penalties would be just as harsh as being caught with kiddie porn.

From Washington, Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia.

Congressman, good to have you.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE, R-VA.: Good afternoon, Neil.

CAVUTO: Why so tough on this?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, that is not accurate.

Washington State recently passed legislation that raised the penalty for individual gamblers from a misdemeanor to a felony, a class-C felony. I think that is the analogy you’re talking about with kiddie porn. My legislation only goes after...

CAVUTO: But could I stop you there?

GOODLATTE: ... the offshore sites.

CAVUTO: Would you equate the two?



GOODLATTE: My legislation only goes after the illegal, unregulated offshore sites. It is already illegal in virtually every state in the country.

And the individual gamblers are regulated by the states. The federal government’s involvement is only in trying to assist the states in enforcing their laws. That is historically how it has always been. And that is what our law does as well.

Forty-nine out of 50 state attorney generals have written to the Congress, asking for a modernization of the Wire Act. That’s the old law, where you picked up the phone and called your bookie and placed a bet, to make it clear that it covers all forms of technology, including the Internet, and all forms of gambling.

And that’s what the legislation does. It also gives law enforcement new tools, in terms of working with the financial services industry to make sure that our banking system is not used to suck these billions of dollars out of the country. That is what happening today.

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, I bet you a lot of your constituents gamble online.

GOODLATTE: Oh, I have no doubt.

CAVUTO: And they’re going to hear you. They’re going to say, hey, what is he doing?

GOODLATTE: Well, I have a lot of constituents who are very strongly supportive of the idea that gambling is not a good thing for communities, for society.

And I also have others who are supportive of gambling but believe it should be done in a regulated environment by the state. These are illegal, untaxed, unregulated sites. You don’t know what you are getting when you go on there. And that is what we are targeting with this legislation, not individual betters.

We are going after the offshore sites and making it more difficult to send money to those sites and not have it come out of our economy to benefit these fly-by-night operations around the world.

CAVUTO: Here is what I am just wondering about, Congressman. If you’re caught, you know, on a lot of these kid porn sites, right, that can land you five years in the slammer. If you do some of the things that you are saying people should not be doing, online gambling, five years in the slammer. It seems pretty severe.

GOODLATTE: Well, that is something that the states do.

My legislation does not do that, unless you are actually offering the betting service. If you are running one of these offshore sites and you are arrested in the United States or brought into the United States under charges brought here, you could face severe criminal penalties.

But if you are an individual better, that is covered by your own state laws in the state that you reside in.

CAVUTO: All right.

Congressman, thank you very much — Congressman Bob Goodlatte in Washington.

GOODLATTE: Thank you.

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