It seems when the chips are down (pun intended), and you are facing a budgeting crisis, that you can suddenly decide that things you felt were bad for your constitutes four years ago are suddenly not such a bad idea. According to The New York Times, the United States Congress is currently considering doing exactly that by lifting its ban on Internet Gambling that it it put into place a mere four years ago.
Just as what happened with the “Volstead Act”, better known as “Prohibition”, banning alcohol in the United States from 1920 to 1933, citizens of the United States that have wanted to gamble online have found ways around the law. The main thrust of the “ban” was that financial institutions couldn’t transfer money to or from gambling companies, so the casinos merely went “offshore” to other countries, and gamblers began paying by using things such as phone deposits and pre-paid credit cards. It is estimated that U.S. citizens are spending as much as $6 billion a year with online gambling, and a large portion of that is going untaxed.
That’s where the U.S. Congress steps back in. With budget short falls happening at both the state and federal levels, projections show that the country could collect as much as $42 billion in taxes over the next ten years by legalizing the activity again, and taxing both the casinos and the winnings of gamblers.
While it is far from becoming official, Congress is taking the first steps towards overturning the ban to an unsurprisingly mixed reception of critics and supporters. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) is shocked that his peers would be willing to “open casinos in every home and every bedroom and every dorm room, and on every iPhone, every BlackBerry, every laptop.” While Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) said, “Some adults will spend their money foolishly, but it is not the purpose of the federal government to prevent them legally from doing it.”
This is where I would normally offer my opinion, but it’s also one of those subjects where I feel like I’m walking through a mine field. Speaking for my own personal standings, and as someone who can count on one hand the number of times he has been in a casino, if people want to gamble, let them gamble. It’s personally not my thing as I work very hard for my money and would much rather spend it on a shiny new gadget then give it to a casino, but if other people want to do so, who am I, or the government, to stop them?
What say you? Should the ban on Internet gambling be lifted in the United States?