Federal Bill Would Ban Internet Gambling

Online pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, however, would have exemption.

Two Republican members of Congress have introduced legislation that would ban Internet gambling by restoring the original interpretation of the federal Wire Act.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sponsored the bill, which would not impact online pari-mutuel wagering. The industry's activities are legal under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 and were reinforced under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association said its lobbying team was successful in securing protection of pari-mutuel horse racing in the latest bill.

The measure has bipartisan support in Congress. It targets an interpretation by the United States Department of Justice that allowed Internet gambling to expand. A few states have legalized online casino gambling in an attempt to generate revenue; some lawmakers oppose the measure because of states' rights issues.

The bill was pushed by casino operator Sheldon Adelson, who opposes an expansion of casino gambling through the Internet.

"The (Department of Justice) opened the door for massive change in policy without significant public input," Chaffetz said in a release. "These fundamental changes need to go through Congress. By restoring the original interpretation of the Wire Act, we are putting the genie back in the bottle and allowing for an open debate to take place."