07/11/2006 12:00AM

House passes internet gambling restrictions


The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that seeks to ban most forms of internet gambling but also includes exemptions for the current simulcasting and online wagering practices of the U.S. horse racing industry.

The bill passed on a vote of 317 to 93, with 23 abstentions. The legislation, which will now be sent to the U.S. Senate, is being closely watched within the horse racing industry because of its potential impact on both interstate full-card simulcasting and the fastest-growing segment of pari-mutuel wagering, online betting.

The bill would amend the Federal Wire Act to prohibit U.S. financial institutions from processing any deposits or withdrawals with internet gambling sites. The bill provides for penalties of up to five years in prison for any violations of the act.

Horseracing lobbyists have worked closely with the bill's sponsors, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Jim Leach, a Republican from Iowa, to retain language in the bill that would exempt racing from the ban.

Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican of Arizona, is spearheading the effort to shepherd the legislation through the Senate. Kyl has included exemptions for horseracing in previous versions of the bill that have not passed over the past five years.