10/22/2001 (By Tony Batt, Las Vegas Review-Journal Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News) WASHINGTON–Republican critics of Internet gambling blasted leaders of their own party Wednesday after restrictions on online wagering were deleted from an anti-money laundering bill in Congress.
Pressure from credit card companies and the White House contributed to the demise of the Internet provision, sources said. Advocates vowed to resurrect it as soon as possible.
The proposal would have banned the use of credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers to pay for illegal online wagers. Republican leaders killed it after almost three hours of closed door negotiations that concluded around midnight Tuesday.
A few hours before recessing amid concerns of anthrax exposures on Capitol Hill, the House voted 412-1 on Wednesday to approve the money laundering bill without the Internet gambling restrictions. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who has criticized the bill as an invasion of financial privacy, cast the only opposing vote.
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee voted 37-25 to keep the online wagering controls in the bill, which aims to prevent money laundering by terrorists.
Sponsors of the anti-gambling measure were not happy to learn what happened late Tuesday.
“I consider this to be an affront to the committee. I also consider it to be an assault on basic judgment,” said Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, the chief sponsor.
“I would hope that there would be greater courage and greater will in this body on this issue of Internet gambling,” Leach said. “This Congress has to show a little more backbone when a few interest groups stand up and say they object; when a few ideologues stand up and say they have concerns.”
Gambling is one of the great techniques for laundering money, Leach said, and Congress is running out of time to control the rampant growth of Internet wagering. Already, more than 1 million Americans are gambling each day on more than 600 casino Web sites, Leach said.
The usually mild-mannered Leach confronted House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., chairman of the House Rules Committee, on the House floor early Wednesday, congressional sources said.