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Is it Time to Legalize Online Gambling?

7/17/08 - USA Today - View Source

At a time when most economic news is bleak, maybe we can take a tip from England, and the British Open bets that will be placed this week with that nation's legal bookmakers.  There, winnings are easily taxed.

Here?  More and more sports wagering is conducted online, through offshore websites.

"We gamble billions of dollars in this country, and the Internal Revenue Service doesn't get a dime," Lee Trevino tells's Bob Harig  in a story from the Open at Southport.  "Instead, they spend millions of dollars trying to catch these people."

Rep. Jim A. McDermott, D-Wash., is trying to change that, in legislation introduced this week that would legalize, regulate and tax online gambling.  Based on research by Price Waterhouse, McDermott believes as much as $40 billion could be generated over the next 10 years.

McDermott also believes the hard economic times will help open minds of his colleagues in Congress to legalizing online gambling.  "I don't think there could be a better time,'' he says.
The online gaming industry generally supports such legislation, believing regulated gambling would attract more customers.  "What's going on now is around the edges of legality in various countries of the world, and (bettors) aren't sure where there money is going," McDermott says.

McDermott likens the current betting environment to the "criminal structure" that ac-companied Prohibition.  He also finds attitudes toward gambling outdated.

Says McDermott:  "We have gambling on horses.  All of a sudden we say you can't gamble online. What's that about?

If we can take revenue from horse racing we certainly can take revenue from online."

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