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NCAA urges federal ban on Internet gambling
Posted: Wednesday February 10, 1999 02:57 PM
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- The NCAA on Wednesday urged a national commission studying gambling to push for a federal ban on wagering over the Internet to protect student athletes and the integrity of college sports.
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission is preparing a report due in June to the president and Congress. It invited groups to attend its meeting this week at Regent University and suggest what should be included in the report.
Internet gambling could tempt college athletes to shave points, said Bill Saum, the NCAA's director of agent and gambling activities. Students who can place bets anonymously over the Internet from the privacy of their dormitories could try to influence the outcome of a game, he said.
"Internet gambling poses a direct threat to all sports organizations," Saum told the commissioners.
A federal law banning Internet gambling, while the industry is still in its infancy, would be a strong deterrent, Saum said.
But a trade group representing about 50 companies interested in Internet betting argued that prohibition didn't work for alcohol and it won't work for Internet gambling.
"People like to gamble," said Albe Angel, vice chairman of the Interactive Gaming Council. He proposed the study commission instead recommend regulations, such as licensing Internet gambling sites, with states enforcing the regulations.
"Regulation is far preferable to prohibition as a model for controlling interactive gambling, particularly over the Internet," Angel said. He noted that 25 other countries already have approved some form of interactive gambling.
An Internet subcommittee of the commission voted 3-0 to recommend a ban, saying it's necessary to protect children from exposure to gambling while surfing the Internet.
"If you feel strongly about keeping betting out of the home, I think this is the course that we're going to have to have to try to follow," subcommittee member Leo T. McCarthy said.
Several commissioners agreed but expressed reservation that the ban could be enforced. Subcommittee chairman William A. Bible said the subcommittee will need to meet further to discuss enforcement and possible exemptions to a ban.
The Justice Department has estimated $600 million was bet illegally over the Internet on sports alone in 1997, a tenfold increase over 1996.
Last July, the U.S. Senate voted to ban Internet gambling, including the pay-to-play casino-style games offered by dozens of sites on the World Wide Web. Most are operated by businesses based overseas.
Similar legislation got bogged down in the House, where Internet-related businesses were seeking exemptions. The bill never got out of subcommittee.
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