Reasons why Republicans should support HR2267

Republican values are supposed to be lower taxes, smaller government and free markets.

This week respected publications Forbes and the LA Times commented on Congressman Barney Frank's bill HR 2267, which seeks to licence and regulate online gambling in the United States (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Forbes suggested that the recent House Financial Services Committee vote approving the forward passage of HR2267, although bi-partisan, should have enjoyed more Republican support, given that political party’s general mantra of lower taxes, smaller government and free markets.

The publication notes: “While the bill had a good amount of bipartisan support, much of the voting came down along party lines - with almost all of the opposition vocalized by Republicans. Of the 26 Republican members present at the hearing, 18 voted against the bill with one, Ron Paul, who reportedly supports decriminalizing Internet gambling, voting ‘present’.

“This is an absurd scenario. If Republicans really believe in lower taxes, smaller government and free markets, they should favor legalizing online gambling. At the very least, they should oppose federal efforts to ban the activity.

“Republicans - and conservatives generally - often argue that the government should not have the right to tell private individuals what behavior they may or may not engage in in the privacy of their own home, so long as that activity doesn't infringe on the rights of others. As a voluntary, private activity, online gambling easily meets the criteria for government to leave it alone. An Internet gambling ban would require a massive increase in the size and scope of government.”

Forbes goes on to point out that Rep. Spencer Bachus, the chief proponent of a ban on Internet gambling, has signed ATR's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which enjoins signatories to oppose any and all tax increases.

“Bachus has declared that ‘high taxes stifle economic growth, burdening families and job-creating businesses.’ Yet, he pontificates about the social ills that legalized net gambling would herald, without consideration for the millions of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue that it would likely bring to the U.S.

“And then there is the additional spending: American government and businesses would need to spend millions of dollars trying to stop or prosecute individuals willingly gambling online.

“Many of these Republicans who want to ban Internet gambling are the same ones who decry the Democrats' policies for pushing America toward socialism. Yet, when it comes to activities they don't like, they make the argument that government must intervene in private economic activities and personal lives for the sake of the "public good." Rep. Bachus, for example, says he wants to ban gambling because of the fear that adults can "click the mouse and lose their house." Seeking to protect adults from their own decisions is paternalism of the worst kind.”

The LA Times has also commented on the passage of HR2267, observing that the UIGEA has been less than successful in stopping online gambling, and has instead driven U.S. residents to websites in other countries where online gambling is legal.

It notes that Frank's bill would bring more protection to players and minors in states that are ready to stop what it calls the ‘charade of prohibition.’

The newspaper comments that players have easily circumvented the UIGEA, and that the 2006 law does not keep a single child off an Internet gaming site, nor does it provide any protections for problem gamblers or mechanisms to prevent fraud and abuse; it only regulates the banks, not those who operate the games.

The LA Times article comments on the requirements of operators enshrined in the Frank bill, which cover age-verification techniques to deter gambling by minors, programs to identify and block problem gamblers and precautions against money laundering. The mandate would also deter criminals from operating sites.

“By licensing operators in the U.S., Frank's proposal would make it easier for financial companies to block transactions with unlicensed gambling sites,” the article concludes. “The measure also would let states and Indian reservations continue to prohibit their residents from gambling online, although the likely result is that those residents would merely be barred from gambling at regulated sites. That's already the policy in the U.S., and it's just not working.

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