WASHINGTON - A House bill to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling faces stiff opposition from the Clinton administration.
At a House Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, a Treasury Department official said the legislation would be nearly impossible to enforce.
Gregory A. Baer, Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions, also objected to a provision in the bill that would cut off aid to countries that host Internet casinos accessible to U.S. residents. He said the provision would undermine policies of supporting "poverty reduction, economic growth, and the stabilization of global financial markets" and would force the United States to evaluate countries based on the "actions of private citizens not on the actions of their governments."
Though the Clinton administration supports efforts to curb online gambling - most of which is conducted at Internet casinos offshore - Mr. Baer offered no alternatives.
The bill, co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-N.Y., was scheduled for a vote earlier this month, but it was tabled after the administration raised concerns.
The sponsors say the Internet has made gambling too accessible and could lead to financial ruin. "We are talking about something that knows no bounds, and it needs to be cut off now," said Rep. LaFalce.
The committee's top Democrat, Rep. LaFalce repeatedly called for hearings on a bill he proposed last year that would remove automated teller machines from areas close to gambling tables at U.S. casinos.
The banking and credit card industries have yet to take a position on the bill, but they support a provision that would exempt them from liability if gambling charges were made without their knowledge.