Friday, November 10, 2006

U.S. Gov't Is A Bad Bet

My government is out to protect me from the evils of online gambling and it's going to cost me more then what I probably would have lost in a year of playing Texas Hold'em online.

In October President Bush signed H.R. 4954 The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act. The vast majority of this bill is designed to improve port security against terrorism. Definitely a good idea and the bill was passed almost unanimously. However, an amendment was added earlier this year by Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to ban all online gambling. Goodlatte said it was to stop online gambling companies from making untaxed dollars, most are offshore, but in other newspaper accounts he stated he thought all forms of gambling were evil.

Why add something totally unrelated to a national defense issue? To ensure it passes, of course. No member of Congress could place our citizens at risk just so a few million people could lose money on the Internet.

According to the bill will cost the average American family of four $87.07 per year. Now this includes the security aspects of which I am not opposed. During the past year of playing cards online I was down about $75. However, during the past few weeks before the ban was put into effect, and I closed my account, I was on a winning streak and if my skills and luck held out could have broken even.

With the ban in effect not only do I have no chance of winning my money back, but I'm guaranteed to lose $87.07 every year to help pay for the bill that stops me from possibly making money.

To make matters worse Goodlatte's amendment was so unpopular that House Speaker Bill Frist had to sneak it into the port security bill. The generally underhanded way this was accomplished is explained in fine detail here.

The biggest joke is Goodlatte's amendment allows for onling horse race betting and lotteries. Interestingly the linked article states the horse racing industry has donated large sums to Goodlatte's election fund.

This entire episode is another fine example of the government trying to socialy engineer the country through legislation. I normally consider such acts the domain of the Democratic party, but when it comes to issues of Vice things get turned around and the Republicans jump on their soap box. Unlike drugs, drunk driving or second hand cigarette smoke online gambling only hurts those who not only want to play, but have to go far out of their way to do so. It is not my fault that others cannot control themselves, yet I'm being punished.

If the government were smart it would have figured a way to work with the gambling companies to tax any winnings or their profits. This alone could have paid for the port security bill.


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