October 21, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Adding his voice to the growing chorus of mainstream media sources condemning the U.S. government’s current ban on online gambling, the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik has gone on record calling the UIGEA and Wire Act “absurd” and an illustration of “America's talent for self-deception”.
Laying out the historical hypocrisy with which the U.S. has traditionally approached online gambling, (“conservatives in Congress slipped an Internet gambling ban onto the books in 2006 by quietly attaching it to an antiterrorism bill no sane lawmaker could oppose”), Hiltzik quotes Joseph M. Kelly, a gambling-law expert at Buffalo State University in New York, to great effect: "Martians might have a difficult time understanding that if you play poker online for money in the state of Washington, you're committing a class C felony. … That's the same as rape."
Hiltzik goes on to describe efforts by politicians like Barney Frank and Robert Menendez to regulate online gambling. He outlines the frustrating lack of progress of these efforts, which can’t seem to get off the ground, even though there seems to be a perfectly good motivation for regulating (and taxing) online gambling during this current time of economic stress: “The consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated in 2007 that legalization could yield as much as $43 billion in tax revenue over 10 years if it includes sports betting, $34 billion even if it doesn't.”
“Another impetus is that new Federal Reserve and Treasury Department rules requiring banks and other financial institutions to block gambling transfers will go into effect Dec. 1, and the banks are screaming bloody murder about the added regulatory burden,” he adds.
While the piece is ultimately just an opinion column, it is gratifying to see this issue getting coverage in such a colorful way in such a widely read publication like the Los Angeles Times. (The piece has already been picked up by some other publications.) As the deadline for full implementation of the UIGEA gets closer and closer, the more exposure this issue gets, the better.