Goodlatte & The Gambling Debate

Brent Finnegan -- May 20th, 2010

For years, Rep. Bob Goodlatte has arguably been the most outspoken critic of online gambling on Capitol Hill. Legislation he sponsored in 2006 helped make internet gambling illegal in the U.S. But yesterday, online gambling was back up for debate before the House Ways and Means Committee, and Goodlatte had to defend his position once again.

Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle has joined Rep. Barney Frank in an attempt to reverse the ban in order to tax players’ winnings.

The Seattle Times reported that McDermott’s proposed gambling tax would supposedly add up to $42 billion in federal revenue over a period of ten years.

Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, warned the Ways and Means Committee that legalizing Internet gambling would pave a path to addiction and financial ruin.

At stake are tens of billions of dollars in potential tax haul — money that could be used by state and federal governments grappling with yawning deficits. What’s more, poker aficionados and other online gamblers are practically begging to be taxed. They want to repeal a 2006 federal law that cracked down on Internet betting, prompting some devotees to keep playing through illegal channels.

McDermott claims his bill would also create 32,000 jobs, but to Goodlatte, it’s a matter of principle. The Hill reported:

“People sometimes resort to drastic things when they are strapped for cash,” said Goodlatte, who testified before the committee. “However, it is unfathomable that Congress wold consider legalizing a currently illegal activity that imposes on the most vulnerable members of our society just to raise money for more big government spending.”

Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), a senior member on Ways and Means, reminded the committee that 4 years ago the House voted overwhelmingly, 317-93, to ban Internet gambling.

If any of this sounds similar to Prohibition or the marijuana legalization debate, that’s because it is. McDermott has compared the online gambling ban to the Prohibition of the 1920s, but stopped short of advocating the legalization of “non-medicinal” marijuana on the same grounds.

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One Response to “Goodlatte & The Gambling Debate”

  1. Seems like an area where government can either choose to spend money telling adults how to behave, or let the free market work (within limits) and bring in more tax revenue.

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