Two representatives from Nevada’s Congress will propose that online gambling can be regulated by the US government, and instead of banning online gambling, the US should adopt it. Shelley Berkley and Jon Porter aren’t shrewdly asking you to directly endorse internet gambling – not yet, but just that Congress launch an 18-month study on online gambling to find out how it could be regulated by the US. The study would be conducted by the National Research Council, a relatively independent agency.
The proposal avoids making anyone look bad over the passage of the Illegal Internet Gambling Law Enforcement Act last year. Basically, the law makes it illegal for companies to transfer money on behalf of an American individual for the purpose of gambling on the Internet. The study is in its essence, a call to repeal the (UIGEA).
The proposal also cleverly avoids asking the obvious question: what’s wrong with internet gambling anyway? What makes internet gambling so much worse than vacationing in Las Vegas and spending three days in a row at the craps table?
It could be argued that internet gambling has even fewer controls to manage the behavior of players who cannot manage themselves. There is no “eye in the sky” looking over your shoulder while you play, and the instantaneousness of the Internet makes money transfers, from bank accounts and lines of credit, too accessible. In the casino, at the very least, it requires walking to the ATM, or requires that you have already established a line of credit with the casino before you run out of money. There’s even the path of shame when you take a cash advance over your ATM withdrawal limit at an interest rate of 240%. To get the money, you have to walk to the casino cage and leave a fingerprint on the paperwork. It’s all very humiliating when combined with the heated stares of casino employees who know you’ve overspent your discretionary budget.
An argument for social betterment is good, but no matter how often it comes up, looking out for the best interests of society is rarely a motivator for anything the federal government does. More often than not, the motivation is money, which makes the study proposal even UFA more insightful as opponents of internet games are finally given a financial justification for withdrawing their support for the UIGEA. If internet gambling can be regulated, then the US government gets its share of the financial pie and the winnings will far outshine any potential downside to problem gamblers fueling their addiction online.