When the going gets tough, the tough get gambling.
That may be the motto that Congress adopts as it reconsiders a four-year old ban against online gambling.
The New York Times reports that the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill legalizing online poker and certain types of non-sports betting.
There are two theories at work. One, critics of the ban complain that all the 2006 federal ban did was drive web-based casinos into offshore waters. Two, it could be an important revenue source in this era of economic duress.
According to some estimates, legalizing online gambling could cull as much as $42 billion in new taxes for the U.S. government.
The two measures — which are backed by banks and credit unions but have divided casinos and American Indian tribes — are far from becoming law. A bill to legalize online poker sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, has not yet had a hearing. The Congressional timetable has little spare room before the midterm elections, and the Obama administration has not taken a position.
But the vote suggests a willingness by Congress to look for unconventional ways of plugging holes in the budget and comes as struggling states have also been looking to extract revenue from the gambling industry, which took a hit as consumers cut back on travel and entertainment during the recession but continues to reap billions of dollars in annual profits.
This debate has many more interesting angles – from troubles enforcing existing law to underage participation to the proliferation of braodband. Throw in a few battleground elections and control of Congress into the mix and this measure might make for some fun by November.
In Arkansas, we’re unlikely to see any candidates for Congress or the U.S. Senate pick this issue as a game-changer. We supposedly have an anti-gambling culture in the state, you know.
That reputation was a lot more certain before we passed a state lottery and expanded electronic gambling at Oaklawn and Southland. All of those actions have only brought billions of new dollars of gambling to Arkansas.
Read more at this link.