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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' News.com: "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.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

13 comments
MarkSpeevak
MarkSpeevak

Yes, tax it !! AND make sure a large portion goes into gambling addiction research, treatment and support.

bboyd
bboyd

The using the taxes for the children, or the weak or the sick, lets give them 10c on the dollar and be happy scam. Lots of education money comes from lotteries, but then the legislatures can just cut that amount out from the regular budget. Gas taxes for roads, Cigarette taxes for smoking cessation...soon Drink Taxes for fat kids.

DadsPad
DadsPad

the USA will probably sell it to the public with the words, but will not be what they do. Maybe I am too cynical, but I do not believe so. :(

akklaxon
akklaxon

why not? they capitalize on other things that destroy our lives. Cigarettes for example. wonderful "taxable addiction". another Alcohol, great way to make money off of morons who are ready to part with their cash for an obvious killing addiction. thats the beauty of America do what you want when you want, who cares about consequences? why shouldn't the government get their cut while we're at it? Klax.

spowell
spowell

Freedom does not consist of "ifs". Pursuit of happiness and all that jazz. If a person wants to gamble, then that's their choice, freedom. When a person infringes on the rights of others, we have laws in place. If someone wants the experience of gambling away their home then whether Bill, Barb, or Chandra agrees, it is their right.

DanLM
DanLM

lol, tax it like every other vice. In that I don't gamble either, this wouldn't bother me in the least. Dan

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

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?

CrashOverider
CrashOverider like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have read the United States Constitution and nothing in that document says the government can ban gambling but the 10th amendment does say: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people." So that definitely says the states or the people have the say if gambling is banned in their State or locality.

DadsPad
DadsPad

Young teens and addicted gamblers? Like you, Sonja, I do not win at gambling and do not gamble. I am not against gambling in itself, I know many that use it as an enjoyable pastime with no problems. It is their right to do this. However, many bars will limit the drinks a customer may have, but I have never heard of a gambling place refusing to let a customer bet his house or entire savings in their establishment. Online gambling has a reputation of abuse by young people. http://www.columbiagamblingdisordersclinic.org/teen.html http://netaddictionrecovery.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html http://www.co.lane.or.us/prevention/gambling/youth_online.htm Are only 3 of the links you easily get by googling. I cannot think of any way they could regulate online gambling to restrict abuse. I believe they will only look at how much taxes they could collect. Just my opinion.

andyjmoon
andyjmoon

...through strong regulation. We had demonstrable success in reducing teen alcohol and tobacco use in the '90s through the "We Card" programs. We can accomplish a lot if all the stakeholders come up with regulations that severely limit a minor's ability to deposit money with online gambling establishments. As far as addicts go, I would suggest that we follow a creed of personal responsibility. If someone chooses to gamble, they must live with the consequences. If they exhibit signs of addiction (losing a certain amount of money per day, week, or year), they can be restricted from gambling and provided with information about gambling addiction treatment options. The point is that a regulated market is much more effective at mitigating risks than prohibiting the behavior.

JPRuiz
JPRuiz

There are two kinds of online betting companies. One is Post-up. These are the bigger and most reputable ones. They will not allow you to bet unless you have deposited money with them in your account. That way, you cannot wager more than what you can pay up front. If you win, then you can withdraw you winnings (with a few obvious limitations). The other type is credit. This is where all the horror stories happen. Usually these are old fashioned bookies, who will give you a line of credit, let you bet to your heart's content, and then send Vito and little Joey to pay you your winnings or collect your losses at the end of the week. Post-up is not only cleaner, it can be regulated, monitored and controlled to guarantee the security of players. There is no way for anyone to lose the house or their kid's education. These companies will usually put up red flags if a customer tries to deposit anything over $5000, no matter who you are.

DadsPad
DadsPad

all the regulations. If online gambling takes credit card, they steal their parents. If they take an alternative way of taking money, like PayPal, they get by that also. The average gamer is 18-22, but they find them as young as 12. Remember, the gambling is only as far as their computer. The typical gambling used on internet sites is considered the most addictive. Does the alcohol regulations keep teens from drinking? From taking drugs? From going into X rated movies? Wait let me take a breath. Whew, thats better. I did not mean to be on the soap box again. But I see so many young couples in debt from the inablity to handle money. This could look like an easy way out. When I was younger, I always looked younger than many of my friends. The legal age was 18 at the time, I was 18, my friends were younger. I stood at the end and I was the only one carded. Yeh, I know I shouldn't have done that, but it was fun at the time. They said if people started gambling when they were older, there was less incidence of addiction, but when started young, more addictions happened.