Gambling has been one of America’s favorite pastimes since the early days of saloon poker games and horse racing. “Gambling is in America’s blood,” claimed one anonymous woman as I breeched the topic of the recent attack on online gambling by the Senate and House of Representatives. In the early days of the Internet, gambling sites took off and sported a modest income. Today, online gambling is raking in big bucks, with over 6 billion dollars in bets placed by approximately 12 million Americans in 2005. At least half of the world’s online gamblers are believed to live in America. You may think that astonishing numbers such as these would have politicians embracing this new market, for its unlimited potential and popularity. Just the opposite seems to be occurring. In late September of 2006, congress placed a ban on banks making payouts to online gambling services. President George Bush may soon sign the online gambling bill, which was tacked onto legislation strengthening port security, into law.
The fact that the government, which supports state run lotteries, is moving against online gambling is nothing less than hypocrisy. Take into consideration the number of casino’s, horse tracks and dog tracks in the country who are backed fully by their state Senators. These embraced forms of gambling bring in big taxable dollars, not to mention the campaign contributions from the offline gambling giants. Because online gambling is illegal in the United States these online gambling sites are not taxable for their income nor are the gamblers who visit these sites. The real reason that congress is moving against online gambling has nothing to do with their moral or other obligations they feel to protect the compulsive over gambler, it is simply because these sites drive the gamblers away from offline casino’s and race tracks and into their computer rooms, by offering higher payouts, therefore lowering the taxed income from the embraced gambling forums.
If politicians would redirect their efforts to encompass a way to legalize and regulate online gambling sites, millions of dollars could be added to the public coffers through taxation. Great Britain has already legalized online gambling, which has proven to benefit their economy. The current directive of online gambling prohibition in America has simply proven not to work. Gamblers will seek out a way to gamble. Online gambling sites will be ran without regulation by shady characters who may rip off the unsuspecting gambler through rigged games or identity theft, leaving little coarse of action to regain what has been stolen.
The proper coarse of action is simple. American consumers obviously want to gamble online; they should legally be allowed to do so. By legalizing online gambling it would bring the industry into the legitimate gambling realm, along side casino’s and horse tracks. There is no real difference between gambling in an offline casino and gambling online in your home. The only difference is one is legal in America, and one is not. Let’s legalize online gambling in America and enjoy the benefits of its tax revenues. Don’t allow your politicians to rob you of these benefits for political reasons.
Gambling is in America’s blood. Legislators need to accept that. Online gambling is one of the Internets largest moneymakers and we can benefit from legalization more than from prohibition. Internet gambling is not a sin, and should not be treated as such. Sadly, it appears that the legal battle for online gambling in America is nowhere near over. I only hope that we can open ourselves up to the possibility of gaining tax revenue from Internet gambling rather than to send all profits to those operating outside of the law.