Internet gambling freedom boosted by House committee vote

In 2006, the then-Republican led Congress passed legislation effectively outlawing Internet gambling; the legislation was signed into law by a Republican president, George W. Bush.  While the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006″ has hardly succeeded in stopping people from engaging in Internet wagering (on-line poker, for example, remains a lucrative sport – accounting for more than $6 billion in revenues in the U. S. alone), the law clearly has chilled development of on-line gambling in the U.S. as compared to other countries.  Earlier this year, for example, a British citizen was sentenced to nearly three years in a federal prison after being pressured to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges stemming from his role as CEO of an overseas on-line gambling operation.

However, as pressures mount in the U.S. to takes steps to increase government tax revenues, efforts to repeal or at least loosen parts of the 2006 anti-Internet gambling act, are gaining momentum.  Just last Wednesday, for example, the House Financial Services Committee voted 41 to 22 to favorably pass out of committee to the full House, a bill to effectively lift the 2006 ban on Internet poker and other non-sports betting.  The vote blurred party lines to some extent, with seven Republicans joining all but four Democrats who voted in favor of the measure.  Interestingly, both Georgians on the committee — Democrat David Scott and Republican Tom Price — voted against the legislation.  However, the fact that the overwhelming majority of committee Republicans voted to continue the 2006 restrictions, illustrates the continuing penchant by the GOP nationally for limiting rather than expanding individual liberty.

The July 28th vote by the Financial Services Committee hardly guarantees that the measure will be brought to the full House for a vote; or that it would pass even if allowed an up-or-down vote.  However, the fact that the legislation was reported out of committee on a strong, bipartisan vote, and considering that it is supported by both the banking and the credit union industries, gives those of us who believe that the government has no business criminalizing an individual’s choice to wager his own money on-line, at least some hope.  It was a rare breath of fresh air in a Congress increasingly devoid of interest in favor of individual freedom.

36 comments Add your comment

JF McNamara

August 4th, 2010
8:23 am

I e-mailed David Scott and asked him to support the bill, but there is no hope for him given he co-sponsored one of the bills to outlaw it. Nonetheless, its good to see that some of Congress is taking the nanny apron off.


August 4th, 2010
8:24 am

In 2006, the then-Republican led Congress passed legislation effectively outlawing Internet gambling; the legislation was signed into law by a Republican president, George W. Bush.

Yeah, these Repugniks and Partiers talk about less government except when it comes to telling you what you can and can do with your private life. Why can’t I buy beer or wine in the grocery store on Sunday? Repugniks and Partiers.

George P. Burdell

August 4th, 2010
8:38 am

The online gambling issue highlights the plight most Libertarians face in regard to voting. Most of us tend to agree more with the Republican talking points about fiscal policy and limiting the size of government. Then, they go and use government to limit individual freedoms in areas they feel their voting base would agree need to be addressed. It gets a little frustrating when you see how strongly they feel about online gambling but don’t seem to take that same zealous approach to controlling spending which I feel is far more important. In many ways, I think the Republicans attention to the social agenda led to Obama and the Dems taking control. Now, most logical folks see what a train wreck that is becoming, but I for one don’t really want to put the Republicans back in control if its just going to lead to more laws like the internet gambling and no emphasis on controlling the runaway spending. Price is my rep and he seems like a decent enough guy but I cannot give him my vote given his response on this very issue. It won’t matter and he’ll go back to Congress easily, but I do hope enough people will send a message that we are sick of being told how to live by people who cannot even find the fortitude to fix the problems of their own making. If we keep sending the same people back then we are part of the problem and I would much rather be a part of the solution.


August 4th, 2010
8:41 am

Willis: “…talk about less government except when it comes to telling you what you can and can do with your private life. Why can’t I buy beer or wine in the grocery store on Sunday?”

Excellent point. This is why I am done with the Republicans. Libertarian all the way (except for those who just pick-up Libertarian to save their political career, sorry Bob). I think Republicans need to wake up and realize that if they want to stand up and criticize Dems for “destroying liberty” by over taxation and then turn around and push regulations that tell people what they can/can’t do in private they are going to lose more and more supporters.

George Carlin

August 4th, 2010
8:43 am

If they want to repeal a law limiting individual rights so they can drum up more tax revenue, isn’t it time to repeal the prohibition on pot? They can tax the hell out of it to pay for Obamacare and all the other untethered spending in Washington.

Pho Nuff

August 4th, 2010
8:59 am

Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis? The no-alcohol-on-Sunday law in Georgia was drafted by the Democraps who were in charge of this state from the time of the Civil War until about 8 years ago. Republicans had nothing to do with it. Read your history. Idiot.


August 4th, 2010
9:21 am

Either legalize on-line or shut up. We all know u want the money. How in the world can Vegas, Biloxi and Atlantic City be legal but not this. It’s all about greed.

Rational Citizen

August 4th, 2010
9:26 am

Next up…marijuana. This country is broke. Actually, it’s worse than broke. It’s like a homeowner who is underwater on his mortgage, has maxed out his credit cards, and is on the verge of losing his job. Our politicians need to look at every sensible means of raising revenue in this country, and that includes legalizing, regulating, and taxing the cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults who choose to use it for medicinal as well as recreational purposes.

The state of California is on the verge of doing just this. Once it does, I predict the state will see not only a surge is taxes, but a surge in tourism dollars flooding their state. Other states will be soon to follow. Remember, the prohibition of alcohol was a total disaster, which led to a rise in organized crime and violence (sound familiar?). It was only when the Depression hit, and our government had to scramble for new revenues that those in power at the time finally came to their senses and repealed the law.


August 4th, 2010
9:29 am

Pho Nuff….Those same people who were Democrats back then are now the Republicans of today. They just changed political parties. They still attempt to impose their values (good or bad?) on the rest.

I live in White county. I would love to see blue laws change. We are slowly making progress here. Very slowly.


August 4th, 2010
9:32 am

Great ! Maybe this is another way we can get the naive poor to finance rich people’s college education like we do right here in Georgia !


August 4th, 2010
10:21 am

Online poker is alive and thriving. This law has just been hanging over our heads like a hollow cloud. Give it some legitimacy, and let Americans into this industry. Right now all the proceeds go to Off-shore island companies that are run by Americans anyway. This is about individual liberty – legislate morality at home, not in Congress.


August 4th, 2010
10:22 am

David Scott might be the most useless person in congress, and that’s saying something. Everything that’s bad about Democrats, and nothing that’s good. Well, at least his family got to cash in on those sweet jobs he juiced them into. So glad I’m moving out of his district.


August 4th, 2010
10:26 am

Myself and two friends,we are from Lee County, have for a number of years traveled to and from Biloxi,Miss. to gamble. We have won and lost in the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. We are not crooks or dope dealers, we just enjoy gambling. When are the bible thumpers and do rights going to see that the tax base could increase by allowing gambling in this state.

Rational - maybe

August 4th, 2010
10:33 am

They do tax marijuana and all other drugs. They call it “fines and confiscation”. It’s a huge funding source – particularly for smaller counties. Government is likely to lose money if drugs are legalized and taxed.

It’s all about money and power.

How do you tell if a politician is lying? *grin* supply your own punch line *grin*


August 4th, 2010
12:10 pm

Yeah, “fines and confiscation” might work the first time, but on a second violation they get send to 6 months of vacation on the tax payers buck. How much does Georgia spend annually on jailing nonviolent marijuana offenders? Enough to prevent teacher lay-offs for sure.

Supreme Being

August 4th, 2010
12:30 pm

Let the virtual dice roll for some new tax revenue.

Mr. Pragmatic

August 4th, 2010
12:38 pm

Fines and confiscation are nothing but a drop in the bucket compared to the billions in untaxed revenue the cartels are making selling marijuana and the billions futilly spent by the government to fight trafficking. How about the money spent to keep the non violent offenders in prison. With a conviction on their record, how can they get a job to pay a fine? You have to be on dope to argue otherwise.


August 4th, 2010
12:44 pm

Don’t forget State Sen Cecil Staton from Macon who is a Republican but pushed a bill thru the legislature to make it harder for massage spas to operate. We need to legalize prostitution also. Many men are no longer pretty anymore in their old age and need to pay for sex as picking up chicks in bars is harder than the old days.

Junior Samples

August 4th, 2010
12:55 pm

So what other sins should we legalize, just for the tax revenue?
At least our politicians would get into less trouble if they legalized more sins…


August 4th, 2010
12:57 pm

Legalize all “sins.” If it does not hurt others, you should be free to do whatever you please in private.

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August 4th, 2010
2:36 pm

It is projected that online casino gambling will have 15 to 18 billion in revenue in 2010. That is a large business. There are 2400 online casinos. Gambling is good, greed is good. Toyota had revenue of 1.7 billion in the first quarter of this year. Now if the government got in the business it would balance the budget, well not quite.

Mike Osborne

August 4th, 2010
3:19 pm

The bill is a bad bet even though it does have a good libertarian justification. It goes off track in thinking that it’s a moneymaker for the taxpayer. Spokespeople on both sides of the debate believe that creating greater access to gambling, especially online, will generate more problem gamblers. The costs associated with crimes stemming from compulsive gamblers is also understood. That is, the cost of law enforcement, courts and prison. Economists have reported a negative 3-to-1 ratio of $1 in revenue versus $3 in social ‘burden’ costs. Add a factor for lost productivity. Nothing added for wrecked families and lives.

As our government and Barney Frank in particular consider appropriate measures to insure our safety, security and welfare, they might look at the total costs of taking money from the poor in pursuit of a bad bet. Where is the ’stimulative value’ or national value creation in this lost bet?

Mike Osborne,
Director, Firstep Gambling Treatment Center


August 4th, 2010
3:51 pm

To Pho Nuff: the South stopped voting Democratic after the Civil Rights Legislation in the 1960’s. We’ve been stuck in this Republican mire ever since. If people in the South would get their information from more places than just Fox News and Rush Limbo, perhaps the South could stop looking so backward in almost everything we say and do. Hice’s disgusting billboard is a good example of redneck thinking.


August 4th, 2010
4:28 pm

They hate us for our freedoms !

The Taxman Cometh

August 4th, 2010
4:47 pm

I think what your organization stands for is admirable, but history has taught us that you can’t legislate stupid. If people want to eat themselves into a heart attack or gamble themselves into disaster, that is their right. My objection is that, we as taxpayers, should not be obligated to the ever growing safety net for people’s stupid lifestyles.


August 4th, 2010
4:47 pm

Bob- I agree that online gambling should be legalized here. The problem, however, is that I am addicted to porn and I sit at home alone every night and watch porn movies by myself.


August 4th, 2010
5:55 pm

“Great ! Maybe this is another way we can get the naive poor to finance rich people’s college education like we do right here in Georgia”

The lottery isn’t a tax on poor people, its a tax on stupid people. There is no way way to correct the correlation between poor and stupid. It will exist forever and we shouldn’t try to fix it.


August 4th, 2010
7:01 pm

America needs a strong, viable third party.

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david wayne osedach

August 5th, 2010
9:49 am

What a unique and easy way to gamble. Even children can do it!

Ice Tbone

August 5th, 2010
3:22 pm

Online poker should be legal in the USA. Regulate it, tax it, reconize that it is a big part of American culture.

Jo Deanny

August 5th, 2010
11:39 pm

Oh wow this makes very good sense to me dude.



August 6th, 2010
12:28 pm

To Mike regarding compulsive gambling, although it’s true that you can’t legislate stupid, the UK figures have not shown an increase in problem gaming/gambling since they have regulated the industry and my understanding is that it is pretty stable at 1%. I suspect that like alcohol, and chocolate and fig newtons and the stock market there are people that can’t handle it. We tried banning alcohol once in the US and it didn’t work. I suppose we can try banning chocolate and fig newtons but I suspect there will still be people with weight issues (and before you say anything, I include myself in that but I am working on it and guess what — it’s my own damn responsibility even if there are health issues that have made weight loss more difficult — I’m still responsible for my own life). And for that matter, people *gambled* on stocks and lost their life savings due to day trading and various bubble bursts and just plain lack of skill, people *gambled* on real estate, flipping homes or just buying when the market was at peak and have gone bankrupt. Telling me that it’s not okay for me as a mature adult to spend $10 to play microstakes poker from the safety and convenience of my own home and that it’s better for me to take a bus 5 hours to a legal casino and spend $100 a night to stay there and because no one offers micro stakes at a B&M casino and play $2-$5 or $5-10 if nothing lower is available(for one cent two cent or two cent five cent – it doesn’t pay to hire a dealer) I have to have a minimum $500 bank roll. If I want to bet with my head, not over it $10 microstakes is reasonable; committing $700+ for a weekend (and you can’t go in assuming you will win – any money you take in you have to be willing and able to lose) is a luxury that I might do once a year and that’s not how you improve your skill level, and yes. poker is a skill game. I may never be a professional but I take the game seriously whatever the stakes. Legislation like the UIGEA only makes law abiding citizens uncomfortable and requires them to take action to circumvent a law that has no business restricting the freedom of a legally competent adult. It will never stop a true addict any more than laws against drugs have stopped drug addiction. UIGEA and other prohibitory laws just send people overseas because they are nonsensical and hypocritical in a nation where the government runs lotteries – where any 18 year old can spend his/her whole paycheck on “a dollar and a dream” where my city runs off track betting parlors but outlaws poker rooms, where churches run bingo out of their basement but condemn gambling in their sermons.


August 15th, 2010
5:32 pm

They shouldn’t legalize online poker websites. The whole business is a scam.

If you don’t believe me. Play Pokerstars and Fulltilt. You will see some unbelievable suckouts.

Those websites are built to give everyone cards that will give them the biggest RAKE.

Some poker sites actually have robots playing in the game.

Also, there are histories of people cheating relentlessly- to the point of actually seeing your cards.

Lastly, there have been people cheated out of their $ in poker/sportsbook/online casinos, because the websites would send checks that bounced.

If you want to play poker just go to a cardroom or go to house games. DON’T SUPPORT A SCAM!

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