House Passes Bill Banning Online Gambling

Today the House passed a bill banning online gambling that would clarify and update current law to spell out that most gambling is illegal online. Of course, as always with Congresscritters, they play fast and loose with the rules. In this case, they specifically exempt horse betting and state lotteries. Funny thing is, to me it seems like if betting is bad for people, we should ban all of it. Of course, Congresscritters from say, Kentucky, might have a problem with banning horse racing.

The whole thing smells to high heaven of an encroaching nanny state (Full disclosure: I may or may not have in the past placed bets in the amount of zero to more than zero dollars on sports other than horse racing). Full disclosures aside, as we’ve seen with alcohol and drugs before it, prohibition isn’t likely to succeed if people want to do something bad enough.

Some interesting quotes from the article starting with a whopper from one of the bill’s co-sponsors:

    Leach said the problem is particularly acute for young people who are frequently on the Internet. “Never before has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age,” he said.

Yeah, those crazy young people going around betting on the Cleveland Browns all the time are really a threat to themselves, not to mention society at large. Funny, I’m guessing that if they can lose that money gambling, they can certainly spend it at Amazon. Riddle me this: if you were a 16 year old who didn’t understand credit very well, would you be more likely to blow through 10K at or the mall? Ahem. Republicans love to protect people from themselves unless it’s the poor or unfortunate or disadvantaged. But betting and drinking and sex ed? The young people can’t handle it.

    Like the racing industry, professional sports leagues also like the bill. They argue that Web wagering could hurt the integrity of their sports.

Statements like these always make me want to snort Drano. As with most political adventures, the integrity of sports leagues is a farce. Without gambling on sports, those very sports leagues would be in decidedly worse shape than they are in now. Not to mention, I don’t remember anyone screaming about the integrity of the NFL during the 4 days I was in Vegas last January. This is a duplicitous argument given the fact that gambling on sports already legally exists and will continue so for the time that sports exist in our culture.

Overall, this is rather depressing given the other things Congress could be working on. Limiting the habits of the citizenry seems silly when there’s a war on. And even if there weren’t, this is still silly. Luckily, I’m not terribly worried about this getting through the Senate and even if it did, it’s not going to stop things for a minute. Technology will ALWAYS stay one step ahead of the law. I’d think eventually Congress would catch on to this crucial fact but apparently, self-awareness is slightly beyond their grasp.