Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) pushed through a last-minute addition to the port security bill in the wee hours of Saturday morning that would ban financial transactions that fund “illegal Internet gambling.” By attaching it to a must-pass Port Security bill and holding a voice vote (so none of us can find out where our Senators stand), he was able to pass a law he had tried to ram through twice before.
According to the Washington Post story, the Democrats thought about growing a spine, but didn’t.
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), whose home-state casinos are split over the Internet gambling measure, briefly weighed scuttling the bill over the provision before agreeing to go along, aides said.
Now why would the House and Senate support a bill like this? Hint: Bill Frist in 2008. Another theory: being tough on gambling will wash away the sins of Abramoff.
House and Senate Republican leaders pushed hard to secure the Internet gambling measure, which some Republicans viewed as a chance to clear their names after they allowed disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to scuttle a similar measure six years ago.
This is a body blow for online poker, a game enjoyed by 20 million Americans. Party Poker, the largest operator, announced that they will stop accepting U.S. customers as soon as the President signs the law, something expected over the next two weeks.
UPDATE: The Libertarian Party has aon the issue.
“This goes beyond the absurd,” exclaimed Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee. “Using the supposed War on Terror in defense of this legislation designed to legislate morality is sickening. Using this same reasoning, Congress should close Vegas as 9/11 Hijacker Mohamed Atta made a least two trips to the ‘City of Sin’ before setting out to murder thousands of Americans.”