This is part 2 of a multipart series of articles regarding proposed anti-gambling legislation. In this article, I begin discussion of the quoted reasons for this legislation, and the actual facts that exist in the real world.
The legislators are trying to protect us from something, or are they? The whole thing seems a little confusing to say the least.
As mentioned in the previous article, the House, and the Senate, are once again considering the issue of “Online Gambling”. Bills have been submitted by Congressmen Goodlatte and Leach, and also by Senator Kyl.
The bill being put forward by Rep. Goodlatte, The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, has the stated intention of updating the Wire Act to outlaw all forms of online gambling, to make it illegal for a gambling business to accept credit and electronic transfers, and to force ISPs and Common Carriers to block access to gambling related sites at the request of law enforcement.
Just as does Rep. Goodlatte, Sen. Kyl, in his bill, Prohibition on Funding of Unlawful Internet Gambling, makes it illegal for gambling businesses to accept credit cards, electronic transfers, checks and other forms of payment for the purpose on placing illegal bets, but his bill does not address those that place bets.
The bill submitted by Rep. Leach, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, is basically a copy of the bill submitted by Sen. Kyl. It focuses on preventing gambling businesses from accepting credit cards, electronic transfers, checks, and other payments, and like the Kyl bill makes no changes to what is currently legal, or illegal.
So, regardless of whether online gambling is currently legal or not, just what is it that the politicians are trying to protect us from? Why is it so important to make online gambling illegal?
One answer is contained in this quote from Rep. Goodlatte “will keep children from borrowing the family credit card, logging on to the family computer, and losing thousands of dollars all before their parents get home from work”.
I think a fair translation of that quote would be “American parents are incapable of raising their own children so Congress should step in and do it for them’. Because of course we are all aware that the politicians have a much better idea of what is best for us and our children than we do.
And in another quote “In short, the Internet is a challenge to the sovereignty of civilized communities, States, and nations to decide what is appropriate and decent behavior”.
A reasonable translation of this quote would seem to go something like “Individual Americans are not capable of deciding for themselves what behavior is appropriate and decent in their own homes. Fortunately Congress is here to protect them from themselves and legislate morality for them”.
Not only is Congress supposedly responsible for raising the children of America, but in order to do so, and to prevent us from unknowingly doing something indecent, they are going to legislate what we can do with our own money, on our own time, in our own homes. Does this sound like the very model of a free society, or the beginnings of a misguided totalitarian state?
Let’s delve a little deeper into these protections and see just how interested the politicians really are in making sure that our children are safe from the evils of gambling.
Remember, all of these following forms of gambling are either currently legal, or would be made specifically legal in the bill being put forward by Rep. Goodlatte.
First, we have casinos, and race tracks. These little money makers are proliferating all over the country and generate quite a bit of tax revenue for federal and state governments as well as profits for their operators. The people behind the anti-online gambling bills would have you believe that casinos are not an issue when it comes to underage individuals, since casino staff can see the individuals in person and assess their age.
Quite to the contrary however, we have this quote from The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery “Casino kids have been left by themselves at the outer rim of casinos while their parents gamble, according to some casino security officers. In some extreme cases, children are left in the family car in the casino parking lot for hours at a time while their parents gamble inside. Less obviously, children may also spend several hours each week with babysitters while their parents gamble in casinos, bingo halls or card rooms.”
While I certainly wouldn’t try to claim that online gambling is good for the American family, clearly, to the extent that children can relax and play in their own homes, and sleep in their own beds, online gambling presents less of a problem than the current state supported alternative.
Another form of online gambling that the proposed legislation would exempt from illegal status is the sale of lottery tickets by the states over the internet. It is difficult to see how these legislators show deep concern for the children of America based on the following quote from Overcoming Life Digest (July/August, 1998 Issue) “Studies show that lotteries are the favorite legal gambling game for teenagers. Statistically, one of seven who play will become addicted.” And from the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (6 June 2003), “Many regard lotteries as a relatively benign form of gambling. However, 31 percent of callers to the 1-800-GAMBLER national hotline (operated by the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey) indicated problems with lottery gambling.”
In yet another example of government raking in cash without regard for the children of America, we have Video Lottery Machines. Video Lottery Machines, or VLTs are nothing more than state sponsored electronic video poker machines. According to David Plotz in Slate.com on Friday December 17th, 1999 “These are the most addictive of any gambling instrument we have today. It is a cinch for kids to play video lottery machines, since they are often found in businesses that kids frequent.” These devices are being licensed for use in grocery stores, convenience stores, bars and markets around the country, where the children of America have easy access.
Clearly, the legislation proposed does not “keep children from borrowing the family credit card, logging on to the family computer, and losing thousands of dollars all before their parents get home from work”, They will be able to buy lottery tickets, bet on horse races, and head down to the local convenience store to play the VLTs.
In the next article, I will continue coverage of the issues raised by politicians who are against online gambling, and provide a different perspective to their rhetoric, covering the Abramoff card, and the affect of gambling on the family.