[IL] Response from Sen. Barack Obama (08/15/08)

Thank you for contacting me regarding on-line gambling. You raise some important concerns.

As you know, prior to Congress’s action last year, internet gambling was a growing industry. According to a study by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), since the mid-1990s internet gambling operators established approximately 1,800 e-gaming Web sites in locations outside the United States, and global revenues from internet gaming in 2003 were over $5 billion dollars. Both states and the federal government have laws and regulations addressing internet gambling. At the federal level, the Wire Act prohibits gambling businesses from using interstate or international telecommunications firms to knowingly transmit or receive bets. Furthermore, private companies, including many in the credit card industry, have taken steps to restrict internet gambling, primarily by prohibiting cardholders from using the cards to gamble online. In 1996, Congress created the National Gambling Impact Study Commission to examine the social and economic impacts of gambling, including internet gambling. In its 1999 report, the Commission recommended (1) that the federal government prohibit any internet gambling not already authorized and encourage foreign governments not to harbor internet gambling organizations, and (2) that Congress pass legislation prohibiting the collection of credit card debt for internet gambling. Following up on the Commission’s recommendations, the House of Representatives approved HR 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act, by a 317-93 vote. This bill was then folded into a conference committee report on unrelated port security legislation, and became Public Law 109-347 on October 13th, 2006. I recognize both the need to comply with federal and state laws and the desire of many Illinoisans to not have the federal government over-regulate their behavior. As opportunities to re-examine this issue arise, I will certainly keep your concerns in mind. Again, thank you for contacting me. Please stay in touch. Sincerely, Barack Obama United States Senator

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