21 July 2006


Small Business News
Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:49pm

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) – A bill to ban Internet gambling faces opposition in the U.S. Senate, but backers still hope to win passage of it within a few weeks, a top aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Thursday.

“We are trying to get something done before the August recess,” set to begin on Aug. 4, said Eric Ueland, Frist’s chief of staff.

Earlier on Thursday, another Frist aide said lawmakers were still working on the bill, but would not be able to vote on it before the Senate heads off for its month-long vacation.

Ueland rejected that characterization, saying Frist had not given up on getting a vote before the August recess.

Backers of the legislation have hoped to push it through the Senate this month following the arrest in the United States of David Carruthers, the chief executive of BETonSPORTS Plc (BSS.L: Quote, Profile, Research), on charges of racketeering and conspiracy.

Carruthers is scheduled to appear at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday to determine if he must remain in jail until his trial.

The Senate bill is virtually identical to legislation overwhelmingly approved earlier in July by the U.S. House of Representatives. It would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites.

The Republican-backed bill has been criticized by some as an election-year appeal to the party’s conservative base.

Supporters of a crackdown on Internet gambling say legislation is needed to clarify that a 1961 federal law banning sports betting also covers an array of online gambling.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.