US lawmakers voted to forbid the use of credit cards to settle online bets, an effort to halt mushrooming interest in Internet gambling, according to an Associated Press report.
The report also said opponents believed that this would not work and decried exceptions for state-run lotteries and a horse racing industry that had powerful patrons in Congress. The vote was 317-93.
"The House has acted very strongly on this measure," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Republican, Virginia), one of the bill's lead sponsors, was quoted as saying. "I think that should send a strong signal that we need for the Senate to act."
Senate leaders had not identified the bill as a top priority, but the bill's main champion in that chamber, Arizona Republican Jon Kyl, said he would pursue it aggressively, the report said.
The legislation would clarify and update current law to spell out that most gambling was illegal online and would prohibit most payment forms from being used to settle online wagers.
Critics argued that regulating the $12-billion industry and collecting taxes on it would be more effective than outlawing it. They said policing the Internet was impossible.
The Internet gambling industry is headquartered almost entirely outside the US, although about half of its customers live in the US.