Will lame duck session bring on-line gambling?

Will the lame duck session of the Congress, in between votes spending a trillion dollars of our money, actually strike at least a small blow for freedom, and loosen the restrictions it placed on internet gambling back in 2006?  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing a bill that would make at least certain types of online gambling legal in the United States. He’d better hurry. 

In 2006 before losing their majorities in the Congress, Republicans pushed passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UNIGEA). Another self-styled conservative – President George W. Bush — exhibited little hesitancy in signing the legislation into law; another tip of the hat to government power and reduced individual liberty.  

The 2006 law barred financial institutions from processing transactions for online gambling websites; effectively outlawing internet gambling in the United States. As Radley Balko wrote at the time, Republicans claimed the ban was needed to rid the Congress of the memory of Jack Abramoff, and to prevent parents from spending their children’s college savings on gambling. 

Not much has changed in the past four years.  Even though almost every Republican candidate this year ran on a platform to reduce the scope, size and power of government by returning to constitutional principles, already the GOP is resorting to the same nanny-state rhetoric employed to pass the ban four years ago. 

A group of House Republicans recently sent a letter to Sen. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to “not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending,” by legalizing online-gambling. 

There is little evidence to support the concerns expressed by the federal nannies opposing internet gambling. The number of “problem gamblers” has remained relatively low over the last few decades, despite the prevalence and availability of online-gaming primarily overseas.  

A study conducted last year by the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, for example, shows that the availability of online-gambling did not lead to a rise in gambling addictions. In fact, people gambling on the web are likely to exhibit personal responsibility in their gaming. 

With that said, the bill offered by the Majority Leader is hardly perfect. The language would permit only existing gaming businesses to operate online-gambling websites in the first two years after bill becomes law. Still, even a partial legalization of online-gambling would provide much needed revenues and create jobs – the latter being an issue Republicans were able to capitalize on in the most recent election. 

Even more important that viewing internet gambling as a revenue enhancer, is the fact that it is a perfect example of individual freedom and responsibility.  Yet, even before they take office as the once-again majority party in the House, many Republicans are poised to make some of the same mistakes that forced them into the political wilderness for the past four years.

 -by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

40 comments Add your comment

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5 Easy Pieces

December 24th, 2010
7:38 am

Look, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to know that the only thing that stays in Vegas is your money, (or your thumbs if’n you B caught counting cards).

UNIGEA has had little enforcement. The ETrade baby aint scared of the feds, okay? He speets on the UNIGEA!

Gambling at the online brokerage houses is alive and well, and I heard that CSCO is about to take off, suckers.

What happens online stays online. (yes, your money stays, your left with the talking babies).

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Tracy

December 24th, 2010
8:37 am

Reid got a ton of support from casino union workers. He’s just pushing this hard as a way to “pay them back”.

Regardless of why he’s pushing for it, I’m in full favor. I don’t gamble, but if I wanted to it’s my money and I don’t need the government telling me how to spend it.

Jimmy62

December 24th, 2010
10:16 am

Reid’s only doing it because the big Vegas casinos want to start their own online operations. So they will use Reid to push out Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars, the two biggest players in real money online poker, and then open up their own, fully licensed sites.

I think one reason why online players might be more responsible is that all the numbers are right there in front of them. At all times they know exactly how much they have, and how much they’ve lost or one, and seeing that big number in the loss column tends to sober you up. A brick and mortar casino does everything they can to obscure such numbers.

Peadawg

December 24th, 2010
10:35 am

Are we talking about gambling or poker(texas hold’em, omaha, stud)…b/c they are two different things. UNIGEA is one bill that REALLY REALLY needs to be repealed.

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 24th, 2010
10:38 am

The house wins well over 90% of the time. Where I come from, that ain’t gambling.

h

December 24th, 2010
10:49 am

I refuse to indulge my paronoid delusions by claiming that nanny statism is taking my liberty away. Of all the columns that I have ever read, this is the most ludicrous.

carlosgvv

December 24th, 2010
11:17 am

Common sense would tell you the last thing we need in our addictive society is online gambling. Whether you like it or not, this would cause way too many people to in effect be playing financial Russian roulette. This would in no way make America any better, but a lot worse.

ByteMe

December 24th, 2010
11:45 am

Looked at another way, UNIGEA was a sop to the big investment banks, making them the only place where you could legally gamble online…. and the house always wins there as well.

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Al Gore

December 24th, 2010
2:24 pm

When I invented the internet, I did not think it would be used for gambling. I plan on making a movie about how virtual wagers are causing global warming.

[...] Will lame duck session bring on-line gambling?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing a bill that would make at least certain types of online gambling legal in the United States. He'd better hurry. …Internet Gambling: No Mere Roll Of The DiceForbes [...]

America

December 24th, 2010
3:24 pm

Competing at poker is not the same as gambling on slot machines or lottery tickets. Poker is a game of skill like backgammon. The republicans tucked the UIGEA into the port security bill in 2006 so it would pass. Reid should have tucked the poker legislation into the tax bill this year. Regardless, each state will either set up their own online poker sites or make competing in online poker outright illegal (which it is not, as of now, except in Washington state). This, in turn, will ruin online poker (by having tiny player pools), thus not garnering any real jobs or revenue for the states that do license and regulate it. Complete nationwide licensing and regulating of online poker competition would be optimal, but our legislators never seem to go with what’s optimal.

morefreedom

December 24th, 2010
5:43 pm

Carlosgvv, you are a prime example of why the govt can pull stunts like the UIGEA. Did you even read the article? The explosion of online gambling has not created any noticeable increase in problem gamblers. Common sense would tell you that I have a right to spend my hard earned money any damn which way I please, so long as I don’t infringe on others rights.

Prohibition does not work, millions of Americans still gamble online every day sending billions overseas. A regulated US poker market creates jobs, tax revenue, and most importantly strict licensing to block underage gambling and to help problem gamblers.

It is a win-win situation for everyone involved (short of the religious zealots blindly condemning poker) but as per usual our govt ignores logic and further infringes on our freedom.

Btw, for a good laugh google Senator Jon Kyl’s stock trading (he is the major opponent of gambling). For some reason trading stocks is safe for us online but not the big bad POKER!
Oh… he also trades on what is essentially inside information he gains from his position and some how it is perfectly legal.

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America

December 24th, 2010
11:41 pm

Nicely said, morefreedom!
And, hey, Hillbilly Deluxe — the house doesn’t even play in online poker. LOL. You’re competing against other players. It’s real peer to peer poker, not the house games you find in the casinos.

No quarters

December 25th, 2010
7:28 am

This issue and Bar’s stand on it is a perfect illustration of where common sense and our intuition to see what’s right, as God give us that ability to know right from wrong, overides our checks and balances instinct against big government.

Just because a government is big, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t provide for the national defense. or prevent diseased individuals from imbibing their addictions.

Barr is coming across as an anarchist. The Cincinnati Kid lost at the end to Edward G Robinson, who said, “you’re good, kid, you’re real good…but as long as I’M around, you’ll always be second best, see?”

And so Bob Barr is good; he’s really good. But as long as I’m around, he’ll always be my Cincinnati Kid.

Jklol

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TnGelding

December 25th, 2010
11:48 am

They aren’t spending OUR money . They’re using the credit of the U.S. Treasury to borrow it. We will have to service the debt, however. We need to make munies taxable or treasurey notes non taxable so the filthy rich can invest in America and we won’t have to depend on China to buy our debt.

As to the subject at hand, legalize it, tax it amd use some of the revenue to treat those that end up addicted. Drugs would be a greater bonanza because of the tremendous amount we’re spending to enforce the laws and lock up otherwise law abiding citizens. You’re right Mr. Barr, this is supposed to be a free country.

Your money stays in Vegas? Not hardly! If people manged their money better the casinos would have to close or change the rules. Quit when you’re ahead once in a while, for goodness sakes!

TnGelding

December 25th, 2010
11:55 am

The odds at the black jack table are actually in your favor if the deck is rich. Craps has a house percentage of less than 2% on the pass line. Lack of patience and too much greed hurts the players chances considerably. Anything works some of the time, nothing works all of the time. Know what you’re going to do and do it. Set a limit on how much you can lose and a goal of how much you want to win.

MrLiberty

December 25th, 2010
12:57 pm

If the government can make money by taxing it there might be a chance that it will become legal once again. That applies to virtually everything. The possibility that an activity that is engaged in by consenting adults would be relegalized SIMPLY because legalizing it would increase FREEDOM will never be a consideration of any government. Freedom is not what they are about. Government and freedom are at two opposite ends of any scale.

Michael H. Smith

December 25th, 2010
1:28 pm

What is there to object to, Mr. Barr?

It certainly isn’t a bible based moral issue, though, the religious community will object as if it were. Therefore, it is truly a matter of individual choice and responsibility.

For openers, let’s start with objection number one: Internet taxation. A good number of us in Cyberland vehemently oppose government taxing the Internet in any shape form or fashion. Just so happens, yours truly is one of them.

Objection number two: Internet freedom. Slimy Comrade Harry Reid, may think no one is awake and watch this crack-the-door maneuver to control of the Internet. Just let the Socialist Liberals regulate online gaming and next, like dominoes online commerce, online content and online anything else, will be taxed and regulated by an unelected bureaucracy of bureaucrats writing and enacting law. As now is the present efforts of the FCC, with many rightly questioning the authority of the FCC’s powers.

Keep the government hands off of the Internet, this form of communication should remain open beyond the normal limits imposed on free speech in regards to even the rule of time and place i.e. If someone yells fire on the crowded Internet theater, when and where there is no fire or so much as the appearance of smoke, any denial of service or impedance to exit that Website will doubtlessly never result in a personal injury or death.

The zealous religious right and the Republicans are correct on this one, despite of all their wrong reasons. Just cause is reasoned on limiting the size, scope/power and spending of government, while – as any Conservative should do – protecting, enhancing and prospering the freedom, liberty and pursuits of individual happiness.

Comrade Harry Reid and Washington D.C. Company do not have a revenue problem, Mr. Barr. They have “spending” problem, second only to the “scope” of their insatiable appetite for power to sustain their ever increasing “size” of federal government obesity.

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gamblingfree

December 26th, 2010
3:43 am

Keep working ,great job!

carlosgvv

December 26th, 2010
7:21 am

morefreedon

Did you do any checking to see if that study was quoted accurately? Are you aware that it takes a number of independent studies to accurately guage something of this magnitude? Are you even smart enough to understand what I am saying? Common sense tells me the answers are no, no and definitely no.

J.B. STONER

December 26th, 2010
11:22 am

Won’t be long and the phrase ‘White Christmas’ will be outlawed……..

It will be racist and not tolerated..

Surprised ‘White House’ hasent been changed……

STAY TUNED…..

Dr. Pangloss

December 26th, 2010
1:02 pm

So in one week Bob has come out for Internet gambling and for-profit colleges, two industries that take money from people who don’t have much.

Needless to say, Harvard Medical School’s conclusions are not as simple as Bob makes them. See http://www.divisiononaddictions.org/html/publications/shafferinternetgambling.pdf

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