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Support for Online Gambling in US

By: Rick Balding, Wednesday August 17th 2011
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Over the last few days there has been support expressed for online gambling in the United States. Two bills that relate to online gambling in a limited manner have received support and one leading newspaper has supported online gambling in its editorial article. This is nowhere near the kind of impetus that online gambling needs in order to become a reality, but at least it is in the right direction.

The bill HR 2334, titled The Comprehensive Problem Gambling Bill of 2011, was re-launched on June 23 2011 by Democrat Representative Jim Moran and co-sponsored by Republican Representative Wolf and Democrat Representatives Berkley and Hastings. These legislators had brought in the same bill in the last session of Congress but could not see it through. Through a statement issued by it the US National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has urged Congress to support this bill, the objective of which is improving knowledge of and protection for problem gamblers. The bill gives the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration the authority to address problem gambling and also secures dedicated Federal funding for this important activity. A spokesman for the NCPG said, "We look forward to working with advocates across the country to pass this historic bill."

In June 2011 Texas Republican Joe Barton introduced HR 2366 in the House of Representatives. This bill is being referred to as the "poker only" bill because it seeks to legalize and regulate only online poker and does not address other forms of online gambling. The bill was introduced under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Barton is chairman emeritus. At the time of introduction the bill was co-sponsored by Republican John Campbell and Democrats Barney Frank, Shelley Berkley and Steve Cohen. Since its introduction HR 2366 has been steadily showing increase in the number of co-sponsors. Last week five more names have been added taking the total tally to 25. The latest additions are Republican Jim Gerlach and Democrats Howard Berman, Peter Welch, Jim Himes and John Larson. Despite being introduced by a Republican, only six of the 25 co-sponsors are from that party. The bill has been referred to sub committees.

The New York Observer is the latest newspaper to release an op-ed article favoring the legalization of online gambling. The article says, "Taxing winnings just might help solve some of the state's revenue problems. Let the games begin!" The article appreciates that the local and state governments have desisted from broad-based tax increases to make up deficits, but laments that they have been "less wise and less creative when it comes to producing new revenue streams". The article avers that irrespective of the legal position Americans will continue gambling online. It concludes that trying to ban online gambling is a lost cause and it is time that governments at all levels accept it and profit from the reality.

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