Ban on Internet Gambling Priority in Congress

High-ranking members of Congress plan to make an outright ban on all Internet wagering a top priority next year because of its vulnerability to money laundering.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Democratic minority whip in Congress, said gambling over the Web is "ripe for cheating" and "cannot be controlled." Only a bill completely banning Internet wagering could stop money laundering through Web sites, he said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Oxley, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Service, agreed Monday with Nevada's senior Senator and said the issue would be the top priority of his committee in 2003.

According to a report released by the General Accounting Office Monday, law enforcement officials remain sure Internet gambling is an easy source to launder money.

"Internet gambling could potentially be a powerful vehicle for laundering criminal proceeds at the relatively obscure 'layering' stage of money laundering," the report read, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The volume, speed and international reach of online transactions and the offshore locations of Internet gaming sites make the Internet particularly vulnerable to money laundering."

Some in Congress, however, only want a federal bill that would regulate wagering over the Internet and not ban it completely. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan introduced such a bill in November but it has not been considered by the Senate.