Libertarian Groups Fight Online Gambling Ban

May 25th, 2014 | by Jason Reynolds
A bill currently before Congress would ban most forms of Internet gambling, including online poker.

A bill currently before Congress would ban most forms of Internet gambling, including online poker.

While there are plenty of political issues in which battles take place largely along partisan lines, gambling has rarely been one of them. Some regions are heavily pro-gaming, while others are likely never to consider it. Republicans are split between those who see gambling as an issue of personal freedom and others who look at the industry as an immoral vice, while Democrats often battle over whether the revenues from gaming outweigh the social costs.

That’s why it was clear from the beginning that Sheldon Adelson‘s quest to outlaw online gambling in the United States would run into opposition not only from across the aisle, but also from some groups that generally ally themselves with the GOP. It was even more predictable that much of that opposition would come from libertarian organizations that rarely come out in favor of expanding the powers of the federal government.

Ten such groups signed their names to a letter this week opposing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, or H.R. 4301. The bill was sent to the leaders of the Judiciary Committees in both houses: Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and John Conyers (D-MI) the House of Representatives, as well as Patrick Leahy (D-VA) and (R-IA) in the Senate.

Concerns of Federal Overreach

“The legislation is a broad overreach by the federal government over matters traditionally reserved for the states,” the letter stated. “H.R. 4301 will reverse current law in many states and drastically increase the federal government’s regulatory power.”

The letter pointed out the ideological concerns the groups had with the legislation. And while other issues weren’t explicitly mentioned, hot button topics like net neutrality appeared to be on the minds of those who signed the statement as well.

“This bill allows the federal government to take a heavy hand in regulating the Internet, opening the door for increased Internet regulation in the future,” the letter stated. “By banning a select form of Internet commerce, the federal government is setting a troubling precedent and providing fodder to those who would like to see increased Internet regulation in the future.”

Ban Bad Deal for Consumers

The authors also made a point that has been echoed by many opponents: the fact that banning online gambling won’t stop people from playing Internet poker, but will send them to more dangerous and entirely unregulated sites.

“As we have seen in the past, a ban will not stop online gambling,” they wrote. “Prohibiting states from legalizing and regulating the practice only ensures that it will be pushed back into the shadows where crime can flourish with little oversight. In this black market, where virtually all sites are operated from abroad, consumers have little to no protection from predatory behavior.”

The individuals signing off on the statement included leaders of some of the most prominent libertarian groups in the United States. Notables such as FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe and David Williams of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance were among ten groups that showed support for the letter.

These groups also pointed out that because the bill didn’t ban every form of online gambling activity — leaving room for states to still allow horse racing bets and some lottery activities to take place online — it meant that the government was favoring some groups over others for arbitrary reasons.

“This amounts to the federal government picking winners and losers — choosing select industries or private-sector businesses to succeed at the expense of others, which is at odds with free-market competition,” they wrote.

One Comment

  1. Will Von Klug says:

    I am a proud American. I served as a combat Marine in Viet Nam. I considered myself an independent voter; I have been a registered Republican at times and a registered Democrat at other times. I am very concerned about corrupt politics in the US. I have never been more upset about the corrupt politics in the US then I am now.

    The most current example of corrupt politics is one that is clearly obvious. It is Sheldon Adelson’s attempt to “restore” the “wire act” that gives power to the federal government and takes away individual states rights. It is against everything I believe in and fought for. Sheldon Adelson, owner of the many Sands Casinos, that are located throughout the US and the world, is paying hundred’s of millions of dollars to federal politicians to pass the legislation, “Restoration of the Wire Act” (ROWA). ROWA will take away the rights of individual states to allow, regulate and tax online gaming, primarily poker. It will make online gaming illegal in the US. Mr. Adelson has paid into the coffers of Henry Reid, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Jasson Chaffetz, Tulsi Gabbard, Lamar Smith, Trent Franks, Steve King, Charles Dent, George Holding, Randy Forbes and others. All of the named are sponsors or co-sponsors of ROWA. (Some of the above were opposed to ROWA until after they received Adelson’s money.) The other major financial supporter of ROWA is a vaguely named “consumer protection” group that is solely funded by a coalition of other Las Vegas Casinos. Adelson and the other casinos state they want to protect our children and uncontrollable gamblers (consumers) by eliminating access to online gaming. To day the decision to allow and control online gaming belongs to the individual States. Only an idiot would overlook that the passage of ROWA will result in limitation of the individual rights while creating greater income for Sheldon Adelson and the other casinos. (I am skeptical that any casino has a priority of protecting any consumer.) A fact that bothers me is that of all the named Congressionally elected officials are Republicans with the exception of two. To me a Republican protects individual rights, tries to limit the power of the federal government, and is a protector of states rights. Support of ROWA is contradictory to all that, I believe, the Republican Party stands for.

    I love this country. I hate corrupt politicians. Corrupt politicians almost always disguise their goals with statements like “protect the children”, “protect consumers”, “protect our citizens”, and “protect our morality”. Today, corrupt politicians are always funded by groups with lots of money that always get something material from the election of corrupt politicians. It is always at the expense of an American right. To me, a real American is a person that wants to make their own decisions, is willing and able to suffer the consequences of making mistakes, expects to be rewarded for making the right decisions, and willing to take the risks they think are right for them. An American understands that America guarantees them their personal morals and/or religious beliefs but they have no right to try to force their religious beliefs or morals on other people.

    I love my country but is it becoming a something I cannot love. I seriously consider leaving this country for a country that cares about it citizens and their rights. Passage of ROWA may be the final straw for me.

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