New Law Won't Stop Internet Gambling

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Poker Players Alliance president Michael Bolcerek says Congress's Internet gambling prohibition fails to protect U.S. citizens.
Photograph: Robert Cardin
Place your bets--just don't pay with a credit card.

When Congress specifically criminalized Internet gambling at the end of September by outlawing credit-card payments to the services, it failed to stop aspiring card sharks and delusional Oakland Raiders fans from parting with their paychecks, experts say. Offshore sites simply set up shop where U.S. law enforcers can't reach them, and domestic gamblers are finding alternative ways to pay them.

People who bet online will not face criminal prosecution under the law because it does not ban Internet gambling; instead it requires that banks and other financial institutions block credit-card payments to gambling sites.

"If you send a check in, you'll be fine. There's no way it's going to stop," says Frank Catania, a former New Jersey gambling regulator who currently lobbies for the online-gambling industry. The Federal Reserve is not expected to force banks to screen personal checks or other payment methods that are more difficult to track, experts say.

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