WASHINGTON -- 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
Goodlatte spokeswoman Michelle Semones confirmed the congressman
will re-introduce his bill, but contents of the measure are still
"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."