US congressmen support online gambling regulation

US Representatives Steve Israel and Pete King published an engaging editorial in the NewYork Post yesterday outlining why they are such staunch supporters to regulate and tax online poker and online gambling instead of banning it.

The article, „Web Gambling: Tax, Don’t Ban“, helps readers understand whey these two Long Island Congressmen were original co-signers of Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA), HR 2046.

In the Congressmen’s opinion, the Treasury Department is in charge of a number of jobs, including protecting the president, investigating counterfeit money and tracking terrorist financing. Now they have been asked „to spend their time and resources going after something far more trivial – people who play cards from their home computers.“

Under Frank’s bill, online gambling would be licensed and regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). It would also be taxed. „Simply taxing Web betting would generate significant revenues that could be used for a variety of domestic priorities,“ the duo point out.

Because US residents will always find ways to gamble online, Israel and King say the ban is misdirected and unenforceable, and ironically leads to an increase of the unprotected environment that the UIGEA claims to address. That is because bans push businesses into the hands of „scam artists and gray market entrepreneurs“ into unregulated offshore locations.

The duo point out that the serious issues of protecting underage and problem gamblers, and preventing money laundering and identity theft are far better addressed under a system that is regulated and taxed.

„In Britain, where Internet gambling is legal and regulated, technology checks ensure that gamblers are of age and are not problem gamblers; watch lists work to prevent money-laundering.“

Israel and King strongly support Barney Frank’s IGREA to create a similar regulated environment in the United States, and want readers to understand why they too should support the bill.

They close saying, „In the end, there is the question of how much we want government to be involved in our private lives: For many, playing poker with friends on the Internet is a way to unwind at the end of the day. Technology aside, Web gambling isn’t so different than the way Americans have relaxed and enjoyed the company of friends for decades.“

Their comments about gambling being an American past time echo those in the satirical article by George F. Will in Newsweek’s Oct 23rd issue against prohibition of online gambling, which said, „Gambling is, however, as American as the Gold Rush or, for that matter, Wall Street. George Washington deplored the rampant gambling at Valley Forge, but lotteries helped fund his army as well as Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth. And Washington endorsed the lottery that helped fund construction of the city that now bears his name, and from which has come a stern – but interestingly selective – disapproval of gambling.“