I'm not a gambler so this doesn't affect me personally but any loss of personal freedoms at the hands of compromised government officials is cause for concern whether or not you are personally restricted...
US President George W. Bush this week is expected to sign a bill making it harder to place bets on the Internet, a practice which already is illegal in the United States.
Bush was expected to act quickly after Congress approved the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle Internet bets. It also created stiff penalties for online wagers.
Billions of dollars are wagered online each year and the United States is considered the biggest market.
"It is extraordinary how many American families have been touched by large losses from Internet gambling," said US Representative Jim Leach, the bill's main sponsor in the House, in a statement after its passage early Saturday.
The bill's chief Senate sponsor was conservative Republican Jon Kyl, who, like Leach, has said he believed Internet gambling was a moral threat. He has called online betting as the Internet version of crack cocaine.
Republicans tucked the measure into a bill aimed at enhancing port security, which passed early Saturday.
Here's where I have a significant departure from the current Republican Party...legislating morality. My problem is that it absolves the individual from having to exercise personal responsibility. If the measure is so strong and necessary for public protection, why "tuck" it into a sure to pass security bill? Why sneak it in under the radar on Saturday morning when nobody but a bunch of bloggers are paying attention? And, if gambling is so horrible, why is it practiced and condoned in one form or another in nearly every state in the country?
The bill's sponsors are Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa). A quick search of gambling in those two states reveals that Harrah's (a big casino developer) owns huge resort casinos in both states. Internet gambling is taking a lot of business away from casinos and you know Harrah's contributes big-time to PAC's of representatives in states where they want to do business, in return for legislation favorable to them. The obvious question is if gambling is so evil, why did these two guys allow casinos in their home states? Kind of hypocritical isn't it?
So it's not about morality, or addiction, or crime. It's about stroking deep-pocket constituencies. Bottom line: indebted congressmen can legislate anything their big-money contributors want under the pretense of protecting morality. And the individual voters have to live with another small loss of freedom all because some legislators have to do what their big donors demand. Sometimes I wish I was able to not care about politics, my blood pressure would certainly be lower. This kind of underhanded, freedom-robbing, tactic sickens me...expecially when it comes from my own party.