Wyden: Use Gambling Revenue to Pay for Healthcare
9/21/09 - The Hill - View Source
By Eric Zimmermann
Congress should legalize and tax internet gambling to help pay for healthcare reform, says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
The Oregon Democrat will introduce an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that would use revenue from taxes on internet gambling to increase subsidies for low-income Americans to purchase health insurance.
The proposal depends on passing into law the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, which would lift a prohibition on internet gambling while implementing various safeguards to prevent compulsive gambling or underage gambling.
That legislation has already been introduced in the House by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. An accompanying piece of legislation would levy a tax on internet gambling once it is legalized.
PriceWaterHouseCoopers has estimated that taxing online gambling could net the government about $63 billion over 10 years.
Currently, Americans who gamble online must use companies based abroad.
Baucus's proposal to pay for expanded coverage by taxing insurance companies for expensive policies has been greeted with little enthusiasm by Democrats wary of defending new taxes.