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11/9/2006
03:38 PM
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Online Gamblers Worked To Defeat Sponsor Of Anti-Gambling Legislation

With the ouster of Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, an opponent of online gambling, players are hopeful for a more receptive climate in Congress.

Online gamblers miffed at recent federal legislation that seeks to block Internet gambling were cheering after Representative Jim Leach, R-Iowa, the sponsor of the anti-gaming legislation, was defeated in this week's election.

"A victory for Internet gambling as Jim Leach gets voted out," crowed Gambling911, a pro-gambling Web site, for instance.

Leach had served for 30 years as a congressman from Iowa. He was narrowly defeated by Dave Loebsack, the Democratic Party challenger. Leach was the sponsor of HR 4411, the bill that stops U.S. banks and credit card companies from accepting payments for online gambling.

"A lot of poker fans were lobbying against Leach," said former New Jersey gaming regulator Frank Catania. "Poker players have been organizing. They could eventually be a (lobbying) group like the Sierra Club."

Catania has spoken against banning online gaming because, he says, it can't be prohibited; he favors regulating the business instead of banning it outright.

He also noted that citizens were betting online in the recent election through online futures markets that enable people to invest in futures contracts based on the outcome of elections. The University of Iowa runs a popular futures site that enables visitors to bet on the outcome of political elections.

"It's basically Internet gambling," said Catania, who maintains that, like the Iowa University operation, there are many ways for would-be gamblers to bet their wishes.

Founded in 1988, the Iowa futures site is one of many that enable online visitors to wager on elections. Visitors are limited to $500 in an account.

Catania said he expects the new Democratic Congress to be more favorably disposed towards online gambling.

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