Mon Oct 2, 10:21 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush this week is expected to sign a bill making it harder to place bets on the Internet, a practice which already is illegal in the United States.
Bush was expected to act quickly after Congress approved the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle Internet bets. It also created stiff penalties for online wagers.
Billions of dollars are wagered online each year and the United States is considered the biggest market.
“It is extraordinary how many American families have been touched by large losses from Internet gambling,” said US Representative Jim Leach (news, bio, voting record), the bill’s main sponsor in the House, in a statement after its passage early Saturday.
The bill’s chief Senate sponsor was conservative Republican Jon Kyl, who, like Leach, has said he believed Internet gambling was a moral threat. He has called online betting as the Internet version of crack cocaine.
“Gambling can be highly addictive, especially when its done over an unregulated environment such as the Internet” he said this year.
“If Congress had not acted, gamblers would soon be able to place bets not just from home computers, but from their cell phones while they drive home from work or their Blackberries as they wait in line at the movies,” Leach said.
The US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board will jointly develop implementing rules for the new law, while financial institutions have nine months to incorporate its provision.