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Political Notebook: Lawmakers Make Push to Regulate Online Gambling

5/20/10 - Boston Globe - View Source

Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it’s not working with Internet gambling now, say lawmakers pushing Congress to approve long-shot legislation that would legalize and tax online wagering.

Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, told his colleagues during a congressional hearing yesterday that millions of Americans gamble on the Internet each day, despite laws to prevent it. Citing industry analysts, McDermott said they wager nearly $100 billion annually, generating an estimated $5 billion for offshore operators.

He said the money would be put to better use in the United States and would create thousands of jobs for people who would be employed by licensed gambling sites.

“Regulation and taxation have proven to be a better policy for our country when it comes to alcohol,’’ McDermott said. “The same is true for online gambling.’’

Realistically, supporters realize that Congress is highly unlikely to pass legislation this year on the subject, but they hope to lay the groundwork for the future with hearings like the one yesterday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

While McDermott’s bill would provide for taxing Internet gambling, companion legislation from Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, would license and regulate the industry. The Treasury Department would be tasked with licensing operators that meet financial requirements and pass criminal background checks.

Frank’s legislation prohibits the operators from accepting sports bets as well as bets initiated in states or tribal lands that prohibit that particular type of Internet gambling. It has drawn support from online poker players.

Protecting Children
Compulsive Gambling Safeguards
Secure Financial Transactions
New Government Revenues
Regulated and Licensed Environment
International Ramifications
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