Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Tuesday he is likely to reintroduce legislation this year to ban gambling on the Internet, but not until after the Senate completes its consideration of the nomination of former Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general.
“I’d like to (reintroduce the bill). I’d like to get it passed,” Kyl said.
Kyl said he has not focused on the Internet legislation yet because as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee he has taken a leading role in defending the nomination of Ashcroft, whose confirmation hearings began Tuesday.
The committee may schedule several sessions to consider the Aschcroft nomination, a former Missouri Republican senator whose selection by President-elect Bush has raised the ire of a mix of liberal interest groups. There has been no indication of when the Senate might vote on him.
“First things first,” Kyl said. “I haven’t focused on (Internet gambling). We’re focused on these confirmations right now.”
In November, Kyl was pessimistic about moving an Internet gambling ban through Congress after legislation failed in the 2000 session. He said then that Congress had missed its best chance to ban Internet gambling, which has mushroomed into a multi-billion dollar industry that draws concern from lawmakers who say it is ripe for scandal and is potentially corrupting for families.
Kyl’s bill cleared the Senate by a unanimous voice vote in November 1999. The House voted 245-159 for a similar proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on July 17 of last year, but a two-thirds majority was needed under a fast-track procedure. Congress failed to take further action on either measure.
Kyl said Tuesday he may wait to see what happens to Goodlatte’s bill in the House before making a move in the Senate. He said he wants to talk to Goodlatte and states’ attorneys general before moving forward.
Goodlatte spokeswoman Michelle Semones confirmed the congressman will re-introduce his bill, but contents of the measure are still incomplete.
“We’re not sure what the timeline will be, but we currently plan to reintroduce the bill as a free-standing measure,” Semones said.
Kyl said that if an Internet gambling ban is reintroduced in the Senate, he will be the man to do it.
“I suspect if the legislation goes forward, it will go forward because I introduced it and tried to move it,” he said.
Sue Schneider, chairwoman of the Interactive Gaming Council, said there appears to be more momentum for state regulation of Internet gambling than a federal ban. The Vancouver-based council includes 110 companies involved in Internet gambling.
“We’re seeing that debate raging in Australia now,” Schneider said. “The government attempted a moratorium on licensing for Internet gambling and the states are telling the Australian government they are treading on their duties.”