Congressional leaders are trying to forge a compromise that would allow them to push through legislation banning most forms of Internet gambling, aides said on Thursday.
Top House and Senate lawmakers have been trying to break a logjam that has stalled the Internet gambling legislation by attaching it to any one of a number of must-pass spending bills before the end of the year, aides said. However, they have yet to agree on a final deal.
"I'm confident that (Senate Majority Leader Bill) Frist is intent on trying to make something happen. They are working hard," one aide said.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, one possible compromise would focus on a version of a bill already passed by the House, with some provisions opposed by the U.S. horse racing industry removed.
The bill would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites.
One lobbyist said backers considered trying to attach it to a defense spending bill, but a number of aides said they did not believe it would be possible.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, has a reputation for not allowing non-germane measures to be attached to defense legislation.
Lawmakers are scheduled to recess at the end of next week so they can campaign for the November elections. They are expected to return afterward to wrap up unfinished business.
Efforts to move the House bill in the Senate ran into opposition earlier in the summer from lobbyists representing casino owners and horse- and dog-racing interests.
Investors in British-based gaming companies such as BETonSPORTS Plc, Partygaming Plc and 888 Holdings Plc are closely watching the U.S. legislation.
The Republican-backed measure has been criticized by some as an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base.
Frist, of Tennessee, is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate.
Supporters of a crackdown on Internet gambling say legislation is needed to clarify that a 1961 federal law banning interstate telephone betting also covers an array of online gambling.