A senior Democratic lawmaker said on Thursday he would push to pass legislation to repeal a three-year-old U.S. ban on Internet gambling that has hurt trade ties with European Union.
Work on drafting the legislation should be completed this month, a House aide said.
Congress attempted in 2006 to quash online gambling in the United States by barring businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, including payments made through credit cards, electronic fund transfers and checks.
European online companies lost billions in market value after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act became law and they withdrew from the U.S. market.
Supporters of the ban, which was enacted when Republicans still controlled Congress and the White House, argued that offshore Internet gambling websites take billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy, damage families and serve as vehicles for money laundering.
Advocates of lifting the ban say it is impingement of personal liberty and estimate the United States could raise nearly $52 billion in revenue over the next decade by taxing and regulating Internet gambling instead.
Meanwhile, the London-based Remote Gambling Association has accused the U.S. Justice Department of singling out European online gambling companies like PartyGaming and 888.com for prosecution while allowing U.S. companies to operate freely.
The European Commission, acting on an industry petition, began a formal investigation into that issue last year and is expected to release a report soon saying it has grounds to take action at the World Trade Organization.
(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh and Doug Palmer; editing by Tim Dobbyn)