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Frist Targets Internet Gambling

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 13, 2006; 9:05 PM

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying use a bill authorizing U.S. military operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit people from using credit cards to settle Internet gambling debts.

Frist, R-Tenn., and his aides have been meeting with other lawmakers and officials in both the House and Senate to get the measure attached to a compromise Defense Department authorization bill, according to a Senate GOP leadership aide.

The House passed a version of the Internet gambling measure in July, but the Senate has taken no action on similar legislation. Neither of the defense bills passed by the House and Senate mention it.

Frist is pushing for an approach that isn't quite as sweeping as the House measure, said the leadership aide and lobbyists following the issue. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations.

Frist, eyeing a 2008 presidential bid, recently discussed the online gambling measure in the politically important state of Iowa. He also called it a legislative priority in a recent speech on the Senate floor.

The measure's supporters include the National Football League as well as conservative and antigambling groups. Some banking groups are lobbying against it.

Federal officials have made recent arrests involving offshore companies operating Internet gambling sites. The Internet gambling industry is headquartered almost entirely outside the United States although many of its customers live in the U.S.

The bills authorizing defense programs are: S.2507 and H.R.5122.

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© 2006 The Associated Press