September 5, 2006

Frist still seeks Internet gambling bill: aides

By Peter Kaplan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aides to Senate Republican Leader
Bill Frist said on Tuesday he is still trying to find a way to
pass a bill to outlaw most forms of Internet gambling, but
offered no guarantee a deal could be struck before lawmakers
recess at the end of September.

Frist would like to bring up the bill under unanimous
consent, a process by which leaders from both parties agree to
bring a bill to a vote on the Senate floor, the aides told

But outwardly there has been little movement on the bill. A
similar version has already passed the U.S. House of
Representatives, but efforts to move the Senate bill ran into
opposition earlier in the summer from lobbyists representing
casino owners and horse- and dog-racing interests.

The bill would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and
make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make
payments to online gambling sites.

Investors in British-based gaming companies such as
BETonSPORTS Plc, Partygaming Plc and 888 Holdings Plc are
closely watching the U.S. legislation.

The Republican-backed measure has been criticized by some
as an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base.
Frist, of Tennessee, is widely seen as a potential presidential
candidate. Last week, Frist appeared at a congressional field
hearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- the state that holds the first
presidential nominating contest in 2008 -- to hear concerns
about Internet gambling.

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

However, congressional aides have said some Republican
senators have placed holds on the bill, and that Democratic
senators may eventually do so as well depending on how talks
proceed. Any member of the Senate may place a secret "hold" on
legislation, which prevents it from being brought up for a vote
until concerns about the measure are resolved.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan)