HOUSE GAMBLING LEGISLATION IS A BUST

18 July 2006

Inside BAY AREA
The ARGUS
07/17/2006 06:57:19 AM PDT

THE House passed a prohibition on Internet wagering Tuesday that would theoretically prevent gamblers from using credit cards to bet online and could block access to gambling Web sites.

Proponents say gambling can be addictive, and then exposed a lack a consistency in their argument by voting for the bill, which carves out exceptions for state lotteries and horse racing.

Citing such precedents as Prohibition and the war on drugs, however, critics say people who want to gamble online are going to find a way to do it anyway and, on the Internet, that won’t be hard to do.

If the U.S. government wants to control online gambling and boost revenues, it should explore ways to lure such online operations, which are now mostly located overseas, to American soil. Not only would it serve as a protection to the gamblers, who could be sure approved sites operated with oversight and presumably a minimum level of fairness, but the tax revenues could generate $3 billion in federal revenue and $1 billion for states, by one estimate.

Among the problems with this legislation is the fact it would require banks to block transactions with gambling sites, making them essentially the police.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., argued that would be totally ineffective because banks and credit card companies would find it impossible to detect gambling sites that conceal their identities.

In other words, “it cannot possibly be enforced,” Scott said.

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