Frank vs. Bachus, Round 1 of Online Gaming Legalization Debate

by , Jun 2, 2009 | 2:40 pm

Ding ding! Let the first round of the official debate begin!

U.S. News & World Report provided a forum for representatives of both sides of the issue of legalizing and regulating (and taxing) online gaming. When Rep. Barney Frank introduced H.R. 2267 on May 6, Rep. Spencer Bachus was quick to respond with a blurb about criminals, youth, blah blah. But the U.S. News piece allowed both parties to cool down and present their opinions with some bias thought.

In this corner, we have the winning argument from Frank, with a heavy concentration on the personal freedom aspect of the issue. He also takes the time to counter some of the arguments like the alleged criminal element and the sports betting worries. A few excerpts:

With Gambling, Personal Freedom Is Always the Best Bet, Says Barney Frank
There are many vices in the U.S. Those that hurt others must be stopped. Online gaming need not be.

Posted June 1, 2009
By Barney Frank
Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee

There is one major reason that leads me to oppose the ban on Internet gambling: It is an activity that adult Americans enjoy and that does no conceivable harm to anybody else…

Several other negative arguments exist. The least serious comes from the professional sports leagues, which express their horror that if Internet gambling were allowed, people might actually bet on sports games. The bill I proposed prohibits betting on sports through the Internet, but the notion that the people who run professional sports leagues are shocked by the idea that people might actually bet on their games has to rank as one of the least credible in human history. Indeed, one of the major shortcomings of the current law is precisely that it prohibits human behavior that in fact harms no one. Thus, it winds up doing more to discredit the law than to discourage the activity….

Finally, there are two blatant contradictions in the position of those conservatives who push to outlaw Internet gambling. First, it is the most glaring example we have of interfering with freedom on the Internet. Second, to those who claim to be unhappy with the intrusiveness of the “nanny state,” there is no stronger case than for a nanny government insisting we be “better” people by reducing our freedom.

On this issue, there is a very clear case for the citizen’s right to be left alone.

And in the other corner, we have Bachus with some irrational Joan-Rivers-esque arguments about crime and the corruption of society. A few excerpts:

Online Gambling Leads to Crime and Hurts Young, So Why Encourage It? Asks Spencer Bachus
Computer betting lures the young and leads to crime. Government should not send the wrong message.

Posted June 1, 2009
By Spencer Bachus
Republican from Alabama and ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee

In the history of our country, the federal government has never authorized or sanctioned gambling of any kind. Now, offshore casino interests are leading an unprecedented effort to legalize Internet gambling.

Internet gambling’s characteristics are unique: Online players can gamble 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home; children may play without sufficient age verification; and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash, leading to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime. Young people are particularly at risk because a computer in the bedroom or dorm room of a young person is a temptation that many may fall prey to…

Even if one concedes that legalization and regulation could possibly prevent underage gambling, compulsive play, cheating by casinos as documented by 60 Minutes and the Washington Post, and money laundering or drug trafficking by criminals on U.S.-sanctioned gambling sites, the pre-2006 problem of predatory, illegal offshore casino bets would return. One country’s rules would be woefully insufficient. Ultimately, the results of legalization would be expanding, sanctioning, and inevitably losing control of an industry that offers few advantages to the economy or tax base but incredible pain to families across the country.

3 Comments to “Frank vs. Bachus, Round 1 of Online Gaming Legalization Debate”

  1. Online Casino

    If online gambling is crime, so why not the government bans it rather appreciate by giving license. And what about brick and mortar casinos? It’s running smoothly. So Mr. Frank please take a glance to this side.

  2. sports betting champ

    I just don’t understand all these folks against online gambling. if they don’t like it – leave the people who do like it alone.

  3. rob

    why not just ban everything except eating health food, going to the gym and working – the World would be a much safer and happier place.