Time to bring back internet gambling?

Just four years after banning online casinos, Congress is debating permitting them to raise tax revenue. Is that a good idea?

Should online gambling be legalized?
(Image credit: Corbis)

Desperate to find new sources of revenue to reduce the deficit, Congress is considering making some internet gambling legal — and taxing it. The House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday gave its stamp of approval to a bill that would effectively legalize online poker and other nonsports betting, just four years after the federal government banned it. Critics of the ban say it merely drove Web-based casinos offshore, and that repealing it will net the government $42 billion over 10 years. Should Congress try to bring them back? (Watch a Fox Business report about the legislation)

Lifting the ban helps everyone: Pulling the plug on the "ill-advised" internet gambling ban is a no-brainer, says Nick Saint at Business Insider. Washington is powerless to prevent online betting, anyway, and this way it at least gets a big new source of tax revenue. And this would be a "huge win for online poker sites that had their businesses devastated by the 2006 ban."

"Congress wants to legalize online gambling"

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Congress has no business encouraging gambling: The online gambling lobby and other supporters of this bill, say the editors of The Christian Science Monitor, are glossing over "the negative effects of allowing gambling on every smart phone and laptop." Some people think Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the bill's sponsor, and other supporters are overestimating the tax money this will bring in. Regardless, all online poker does is redistribute wealth from "mainly poor Americans to mainly foreign gambling interests" — there has to be a better way to raise tax money.

"Bill to legalize internet gambling: No dice"

Free marketeers should support this: All the hand wringing by the "anti-gambling moralists" is a bit premature, says Jacob Sullum at Reason. The bill has passed Frank's House committee, but, with votes in the full House and Senate still to come, it's a long way from becoming law. But the arguments over this bill are confusing. Democrats are for it, while Republicans are doing everything from saying this will spread the gambling bug into more American homes to dismissing it because it won't raise GDP. "Which is the party of free markets again?"

"Bill to legalize online gambling advances"

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