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US restricts online gambling

Outright ban gets closer

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The US House of Representatives has voted to stop US citizens gambling on the internet.

Rather than go after the gambling and betting sites themselves, they have "followed the money".

The law makes it illegal for any credit card company, or other institution, to allow payment to any betting site. The bill also updates the Wire Act of 1961, which banned betting over phone lines, to include any communication network.

There are some exceptions - betting on horse races is allowed. Individual state lotteries are also excluded from the ban.

The US Justice Department always viewed online gambling as illegal and most of the sites serving US punters are based in Europe or the Caribbean.

Politicians said mobile phones, BlackBerries, and Wi-Fi networks mean US citizens could soon be gambling from everywhere.

Despite the legal situation, observers believe about half of online gamblers are US citizens. Some of them might need to find different ways to pay the bookies.

The bill needs to pass the Senate before becoming law.

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