Conservative Resistance To Online Gambling Regulation Growing
There is a fight brewing in Washington over the legalization of online gambling. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced long awaited legislation to issue licenses and regulate online gambling providers in the United States. The move is expected to galvanize supporters on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately for the prospects of a valuable debate on US gambling policy, proponents of the ban seem happy to continue with the same old stump thumping nonsense.
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) said on his website, "Illegal off-shore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age." Bachus is Frank's opposition on the financial services committee.
Bachus has a point. Illegal activities are in fact criminal. Such statements of the obvious are known as tautologies. Wikipedia's definition of a tautology offers some insight into Representative Bachus' motivations. From the wikipedia page:
"A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the propositions are guaranteed or that the truth of the propositions cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self referentially. Consequently the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived." (underline added)
Bingo. Bachus fails to address the fact that Frank's legislation would decriminalize online gambling. So much for the power of tautologies.
Bachus does make an actual argument regarding underage gambling. His argument is that online gambling should be illegal for all Americans, adult and child alike, so that children cannot become addicted to gambling. I suppose it must follow that Bachus also believes that tobacco should be illegal for all US citizens since so many American children are becoming addicted to that (much more lethal) activity as well.
The prohibitionist argument is really just a facade. The claims of protecting America from the social ills of gambling may sound reasonable but they miss the point entirely. Much like alcohol and tobacco, gambling is part of our society and always will be. Our policy makers can decide to regulate these industries and keep them under control like they did with alcohol and tobacco, or they can attempt to ban them altogether as with gambling. Unfortunately for the prohibitionists, the bans don't work. They merely drive the industries underground where there are less safeguards against underage and compulsive gambling.
As it turns out, regulating online gambling would probably decrease underage gambling. So much for Bachus' feeble argument.
The fact is politicians and morality minions like Focus on the Family are more than happy to demonize an industry like online gambling for political gain. Nothing stirs up the base quite like the threat of a casino in every living room. What the prohibitionists won't be mentioning is that online gambling is still a thriving industry despite attempts to ban it. They also won't be mentioning a recent Harvard study indicating that online gambling does not increase compulsive gambling behavior.
Although many conservative social groups are opposed to regulation, the issue of online gambling is not as partisan as it may seem. In February, the Poker Players' Alliance was a cosponsor for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Wasington DC. PPA chairman, former senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) explained in a letter to thehill.com that the response to the poker issue was very positive among many conservatives and the idea that this issue is divisive is false.
It's time for a change. Conservatives and liberals alike agree. Don't be fooled by the moralists.
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