Last month a US House Committee approved a bill aimed at stopping the use of credit cards and other payment methods for online gambling. The proposed legislation made exceptions, for wagering on horse races and fantasy sports for example, and has led to an inability to resolve the debate in Congress. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, intended to outlaw some forms of online gambling, was introduced by Senator Bob Goodlatte. Further bills have been introduced by Senators Kyl and Leech, but at the moment it would seem that online gambling sites are a good bet.
For those sites that are listed in the UK and elsewhere, shares have been undervalued owing to the uncertainty over US legislation. News that the bill being debated in Congress had stalled caused PartyGaming, Sportingbet and 888.com shares to rise around 11%. BetonSports was so optimistic as to suggest that online gambling would be legalised in a few years. It is estimated that the global Internet gambling industry is presently worth around US$12 billion annually, and growing rapidly.
The US administration is vehemently opposed to online gambling but has so far failed to legislate effectively against it. Anti-gambling laws were not written with online casinos in mind, and the most commonly quoted Wire Wager Act deals with telephone betting. However, the Justice Department and several state attorneys general take the official position that it applies broadly to Internet gambling. No date has been set for a further hearing of the Goodlatte bill, which makes it increasingly unlikely that it will make the statute book. (E-04.07.06)
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