Internet gambling revenue could be used towards healthcare reform in the US

Senator proposes use of Internet gambling revenue to help US fund health care reform

A more focused application of the tax revenues hopefully generated by a US-legitimised online gambling industry of the future has been proposed by a Democrat politician in the latest developments on regulated online gambling in the United States.

Michael Waxman, a spokesperson for the pressure group Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative revealed this week that an increased focus on the benefits of Internet gambling regulation is expected as the Senate Finance Committee considers a proposal introduced last weekend to use Internet gambling revenue to offset the costs of health care reform.

The amendment offered by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, would dedicate Internet gambling tax revenue generated through the implementation of the proposed and currently pending Internet Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267) to increase low-income subsidies provided through the America's Healthy Future Act of 2009.

An independent PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis shows that collecting taxes on regulated Internet gambling would allow the U.S. to capture up to $62.7 billion over the next decade.

"We applaud Senator Wyden's proposal to collect and put to good use tens of billions in Internet gambling revenue that would otherwise be lost in the underground marketplace," said Waxman. "The Senate Finance Committee should approve the resolution, finally putting to an end a failed prohibition on Internet gambling that leaves Americans unprotected and unlicensed offshore operators as the only beneficiary in a thriving marketplace."

The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2267), introduced in May by House Committee on Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (see previous InfoPowa reports), would establish a framework to permit licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from individuals in the U.S.

The legislation mandates a number of significant consumer protections including safeguards against compulsive and underage gambling, money laundering, fraud and identify theft. Additional provisions in the legislation reinforce the rights of each state to determine whether to allow Internet gambling activity for people accessing the Internet within the state and to apply other restrictions on the activity as determined necessary.

A companion to Chairman Frank's legislation introduced by Representative Jim McDermott, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act (H.R. 2268), would raise revenue for the U.S. Treasury primarily through ensuring that applicable individual taxes, corporate taxes and license fees on regulated Internet gambling activities are collected. Without this legislation, this revenue will remain uncollected while millions of Americans gamble online without consumer protections.

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