The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, to make most types of online gambling illegal. The bill passed 317-93. It would amend the Federal Wire Act to ban U.S. financial institutions from processing any deposits or withdrawals with Internet gambling sites. It provides for penalties of up to five years imprisonment for any violations of the act.

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in a statement issued today said the primary reason for the bill is to curb criminal activities which used online gaming as a front. "Illegal gambling sites ... offer fronts to criminals for money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing."

Card games such as poker are amongst those in the proposed ban, but horse racing, fantasy sports leagues and state lotteries are not. The bill is supported by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Horse Council.

Hastert also explains that H.R. 4411 is meant to protect youth from gambling access, which is readily available to them from the comfort of their own homes. "Internet-based companies must abide by U.S. regulations that protect our children, citizens and the integrity of American business. It seeks to ... put the criminals that seek to take advantage of our family earnings in jail."

Gina M. Scott  |  Writer