HR 2046 WORRYING ONLINE GAMBLING OPPONENTS
HR 2046 WORRYING ONLINE GAMBLING OPPONENTS Washington DC publication critical of anti-UIGEA hearings and IGREA The growing number of co-sponsors for Congressman Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, together with the recent Congressional hearings that exposed the impracticalities of the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act that it seeks to overturn received coverage in the Washington DC publication "Townhall" this week. In an article written by Paul M. Weyrich of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, the publication described gambling as "…a particularly destructive addiction, falsely leading people to believe that if they just bet on one more game they will turn a profit. In reality, many destroy their finances, their marriages and their lives." It did not quote any figures to illustrate the prevalence percentages of problem gambling despite the availability of this information from various recent surveys. Unfortunately the author appeared to miss (or ignore) the point that regulation could provide more protection for online gamblers by providing them with websites that have to comply with stringent requirements regarding the exclusion of problem gambling and underage persons. Instead, it focused on the the role of UIGEA – to disrupt financial transactions with online gambling companies – although it did concede that the federal authorities were still struggling to implement the law. Ignored, too was the questionable manner in which the UIGEA was rammed through Congress back in October 2006 attached to the coat tails of an essential but totally unrelated bill as Congress was about to recess. And the notorious and hypocritical "carve-outs" for selective Internet gambling sectors such as horse-racing, and the World Trade Organisation hassles that this has generated for the US government are also avoided. Weyrich examined the politicians and companies that oppose the UIGEA, reporting that last year the Poker Players Alliance spent $900 000 and claiming this was for the services of former Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY), describing him as "its chief lobbyist", while the Interactive Gaming Council paid $1.28 million and PartyGaming $1.69 million for lobbyists from more than eight separate firms. The article outlined the efforts made by Congressman Franks and other Capitol Hill politicians to bring HR 2046 and related bills which seek to regulate and tax online gambling in the United States to life, and reported that the consensus on last week's House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology hearings appeared to be that the UIGEA did, indeed present a "Burden Without Benefit" on the financial services industry expected to enforce it. The article then goes on to draw the rather simplistic conclusion that money is the motivation for the counter-UIGEA moves, again apparently overlooking the overall situation and the erosion of individual rights which the UIGEA represents. Having emphasised the dangers of addictive gambling, Weyrich then criticises Congressman Frank for trying to legislate and control the circumstances in which it occurs. In doing so, Weyrich refers to the irony of Frank co-sponsoring HR 1170, the Comprehensive Awareness of Problem Gambling Act 2007 that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out a national campaign to increase knowledge and raise awareness of problem gambling. Again disregarding the fact that most of the United States is home to almost every form of (land) gambling known to man, the Weyrich article then pontificates that the purpose of law in human society is to "promote the general welfare" of society, as the United States Constitution duly notes in its Preamble. But, he notes: "It appears that Congress has removed itself from such a role. Instead, our elected officials have come to value tax dollars higher than a healthy society. Of course, such revenue then can be used to fund beloved social programs which deprive individuals of their self-respect and independence but provide lawmakers with solid voting blocs intent on keeping the "free" cash flowing their way." The article ends with the recommendation that bills designed to regulate and licence online gambling should be opposed vigorously "…by all American citizens concerned about maintaining healthy communities." It claims that by not doing so those involved would share the responsibility for the financial and relational destruction that "….so frequently occurs in gambling's wake."