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Bill threatens online gambling

Published October 24, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) - Gamblers may look over their shoulder now, but experts say a new Internet gambling ban won't keep bettors from ponying up, just turn them on to overseas payment services out of the law's reach.

"It has put a terrible scare into people," said I. Nelson Rose, who teaches gambling law at Whittier Law School. "But it won't by any means wipe out Internet gambling."

The fright swept through the $12 billion industry on the heels of the recent arrests of two gambling company executives and a new law President George W. Bush signed Oct. 13 that seeks to ban most online gambling and criminalizes funds transfers.

The law has wiped out billions of dollars in shareholder value of British companies, leaving the industry's future in doubt as U.S. lawmakers initially trumpeted they had found a way to halt bets coming from the America.

But serious questions remain about whether the legislation can be effective in stopping U.S. residents from playing poker or betting on sports.

The "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act" goes after the money, not the millions of players, which would be nearly impossible to enforce.

It will essentially try to choke off the way Americans fund their gambling habits, hoping to prevent the transfer of dollars to the popular Internet sites.

It's also widely understood that the law has online poker in its gun sights, identifying it as a game of chance - something the poker companies dispute. They believe poker is a game of skill and therefore not subject to the new rules.


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