Should the U.S. government capitalize on Internet gambling addiction?

Online gamblingI'm not much of a gambling woman, but I have been following the issue of Internet gambling as the stories filter through my daily perusing of tech news. In July of 2006, President Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to help eliminate many forms of online gambling. Almost a year later, a bill is now on the table to replace Internet gambling prohibition with a set of strict online gambling regulations. Check out the story on CNET Networks' "Legalizing Net gambling? There's a chance."

Here's a quick byte from the article:

Opponents of a federal ban on Internet gambling said during a congressional hearing Friday (June 8th, 2007) that it would be wiser to legalize and regulate better than prohibit it.

Friday's hearing included witnesses from companies that process online payments. In general, they echoed the arguments once used in favor of ending alcohol prohibition and that are now being invoked to decriminalize marijuana: It's better to legalize, tax, and carefully regulate an industry than let it flourish with far less oversight in the black market.

Living in Louisville, Kentucky, I see my fair share of gambling, especially horse races. Even though I'm not much of a gambler (maybe if I was luckier, I'd do it more often!), I've known a couple people who were extremely addicted to gambling and ended up losing a lot more than their money, including their homes (foreclosures), families (divorce), and everyone's trust. There's no doubt in my mind that gambling is addictive, but I personally don't think that prohibition is the answer.

Do you think that the U.S. government should ban online gambling, or do you agree with the pro-legalization forces that Americans should have the right to decide for themselves whether to gamble online? Join the discussion.


Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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