The curious alliance to ban internet gaming

posted at 9:21 am on March 20, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Federal laws regarding the prohibition of online gambling have been a bone of contention for a while now. (And no… I’m not just saying that because I never got my $57 back from Pokerstars, you #$(*&&!!! ), but I digress. Of course, such prohibitions don’t seem to apply to everything, but we’ll have more on that later. Suffice it to say that there is still a movement underway to restrict online gaming, but who is behind it? Well, Sheldon Adelson is a natural guess, since online gaming cuts into the profits of his many brick and mortar gambling interests. But there are players in Congress who now seem to be similarly inclined, and as Matt Lewis points out, the names might surprise you.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that “Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz is preparing to introduce a bill that would restore the pre-2011 federal ban on Internet gaming, a spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday. It would join a similar bill to be sponsored in the Senate by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.”

“The goals of the Graham-Chaffetz legislation, continues the Review-Journal, “are consistent with the highly publicized campaign by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson to outlaw Internet gambling on moral grounds.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the file properties of the House bill — virtually identical to Graham’s Senate bill — indicate that it was written by a Darryl Nirenberg, who reportedly now lobbies for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Where to start with all the seeming hypocrisy on display here? Isn’t banning gambling to avoid temptation to wagering addicts something that would fall under the general category of Uncle Sugar saving the people from themselves? What happened to the mantra of personal responsibility and living with the consequences of your own choices? And let’s just say that the premise of “gambling is bad” fell in neatly with conservative values. Then why is government whole hog into the idea of the lottery? And that’s not to mention that nobody seems to be rushing to shut down Atlantic City, Vegas or riverboat gambling on the Mississippi.

Perhaps it’s just the online component of gambling that makes it bad. But particularly considering the identify of one of the backers, why would there be, shall we say, certain exceptions in the proposed bill?

There’s also this: The draft of the Senate bill (available here) contains a carve-out for horseracing, which opponents see as a sop for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. (According to the draft bill, “The term ‘bet or wager’ does not include any activities set forth in section 5362(1)(E) of title 31, or any activities permitted under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (15 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.)”)

Meanwhile, the Online Poker Report (such a thing exists) recently observed the curious fact that Sen. Graham has had very little interest in the issue … until now. Their post goes on to speculate that his sudden support for this might have something to do with the fact that he is up for re-election this year.

If you feel that there is some moral high ground to banning gambling entirely because it’s ripping the fabric of society apart, then stand up and move to ban it all. But dancing around the edges like this with such obvious flaws in the logic leaves a lot of questions for Graham and Chaffetz to answer. You’re willing to take the money of the hapless hoi polloi as long as it’s feeding cash into the government coffers, but if the owner of some major casinos wants to shut down a portion of the available gaming that threatens his bottom line (and is willing to carve out an exception for horse racing) then you’re all on board with it?

This one writes its own punch lines.


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Online gaming takes away from the true purpose of the internet. Porn and kitten videos.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

This is a bill Harry Reid will get to the floor.

docflash on March 20, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Miss wymsy grahamnesty strikes again! She reminds me of a daffy duck character engaging in a little uc work when she wades into something off the dhimmi agenda .. Unless, of course, its limiting the rights of US citizens!

GKChesterton99 on March 20, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Couldn’t this potentialy hit money fantasy leagues?

Kanyin on March 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Mind-boggling and stupid and counter productive and anti-capitalist and anti-liberty and pro-statist and pro-monoply…job killing…

Really, the idea that we have federal legislators spending time trying to stop constituents from playing games is just as idiotic as it can get. It is truly none of the federal governments business what games people play.

The day they outlaw all lobbying and all paid lobbyists is the day I will consider outlawing game playing by citizens. And that will be exactly, NEVER

Chafitz is big fraud anyway…talks a good game on some things but gets absolutely nothing of substance done.

georgealbert on March 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Sen. Graham have you no shame.

Fortunately despite the repeated assertions of his daily TV ads, Senator Graham does not “get things done”.

tmitsss on March 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Online gaming takes away from the true purpose of the internet. Porn and kitten videos.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

HA!

workingclass artist on March 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Online gaming purveyors stand to be more profitable than brick & mortar establishments; gaming businesses exist to make money, not give it away. Ask Las Vegas gamers if they are allowed to “count cards” as part of their winning efforts.

ExpressoBold on March 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Mind-boggling and stupid and counter productive and anti-capitalist and anti-liberty and pro-statist and pro-monop0ly…job killing…

georgealbert on March 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

THIS – +1

jake-the-goose on March 20, 2014 at 9:49 AM

They had gambling on that Malaysian 777.

Just sayin’ …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 20, 2014 at 9:50 AM

I hate Hot Air’s automatic ads…
taking the day of from the site because of it.

mjbrooks3 on March 20, 2014 at 9:58 AM

On a more serious note, the thing that bothers me about on-line gambling (and I do play on-line fake-money poker) is that it will be virtually impossible to know the age of the player and that could get a lot kids and their parents in a lot of trouble.

polarglen on March 20, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Forcing gambling consumers to “buy” gaming only in approved ways and from approved gambling purveyors- what’s not to like about that?
/

Pless1foEngrish on March 20, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Hooray government! So Chaffetz prefers Adelson’s money to freedom. This country needs to purge everyone in office, they are all on the take and will continue to ruin the country. And it’s both parties that are doing it.

Flange on March 20, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Graham’s still trying to remain (or become) relevant.

rplat on March 20, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Online gaming takes away from the true purpose of the internet. Porn and kitten videos.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

don’t forget that society killer known as Kitten Porn.
I really regret introducing the internet to my 3 cats, the 2 females are not bad but the young male is overloaded on it now.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM

I hate Hot Air’s automatic ads…
taking the day of from the site because of it.

mjbrooks3 on March 20, 2014 at 9:58 AM

adblock plus.
https://adblockplus.org
works on IE, Firefox,Chrome.
I see no ads.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I would bet there is money involved here somewhere…

climbnjump on March 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM

don’t forget that society killer known as Kitten Porn.
I really regret introducing the internet to my 3 cats, the 2 females are not bad but the young male is overloaded on it now.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Careful! Kitten porn is how that launched the crime spree of that 22-pound himalayan bruiser.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Chaffetz is not hypocritical at all here. Utah has no legalized gambling of any sort. No lottery (not even on an Indian Reservation!), no casinos, nothing. And, for the most part, we want to keep it that way.

Online gaming is a way around those laws. So, in order to keep gambling illegal, it totally makes sense to ban online gambling. Otherwise, it guts Utahs long standing policy against gambling of any sort.

So yes, in fact Chaffetz IS representing his constituents here, and state policy (we don’t fund our state government on the backs of exploiting the poor with this vice). Why Lindsey Graham is involved, I have no idea.

And yes, there is plenty of ways for people who really want to gamble to go to Nevada border cities. But then you really are going out of your way to do so–and if your vice is worth the 3 hour drive to Wendover; well, then you have that choice. But not in Utah, please.

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

And, we shouldn’t forget that it was the last days of the Bush administration that banned online gambling within the U.S. borders.

And, as I wrote/published in April, 2011, (for Hot Air at the time), the online gambling competition was deliberately removed, allowing the District of Colombia to implement it’s own online gambling establishment.

The fact that the politicians are “back into the action” is hardly surprising—just follow the money.

Rovin on March 20, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Jazz,

I think my comment went into moderation purgatory—could you please review and post.

Rovin on March 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Chaffetz is not hypocritical at all here. Utah has no legalized gambling of any sort. No lottery (not even on an Indian Reservation!), no casinos, nothing. And, for the most part, we want to keep it that way.

Online gaming is a way around those laws. So, in order to keep gambling illegal, it totally makes sense to ban online gambling. Otherwise, it guts Utahs long standing policy against gambling of any sort.

So yes, in fact Chaffetz IS representing his constituents here, and state policy (we don’t fund our state government on the backs of exploiting the poor with this vice). Why Lindsey Graham is involved, I have no idea.

And yes, there is plenty of ways for people who really want to gamble to go to Nevada border cities. But then you really are going out of your way to do so–and if your vice is worth the 3 hour drive to Wendover; well, then you have that choice. But not in Utah, please.

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Here’s a thought: exercise a little self-control rather than whining to the Federal Government to make laws to protect you from yourself.

fitzfong on March 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Careful! Kitten porn is how that launched the crime spree of that 22-pound himalayan bruiser.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM

oh no doubt, its a real furry addiction many never recover from.
the internet is good but we must give paws before showing the cats how to go online and purrfect their insidious plans for world domination. Our safety depends on that.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Chaffetz is not hypocritical at all here

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

He is if he’s being funded by Adelson’s gaming money.

Flange on March 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM

I always get a kick out of watching the state lottery ads telling video poker players to “set time limits” on their game play while offering info on gambling addiction. Some sins good, some sins bad.

oryguncon on March 20, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Well, at least with Chaffetz, it’s easily traced to being a member of the LDS church. There have been many, many statements from the leadership about it (a sampling can be foundhere and here. They’re not exactly hidden. Now, you may disagree… but it’s similar to a politician opposing abortion or contraception because of personal religious beliefs. There’s no need to ascribe the idea to backroom dealings.

This would also be an excellent representation of Chaffetz’s constituency and their beliefs. In case you were interested in representative government.

The interesting flip side is that of Harry Reid — Mormon, former Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. I’ve heard it said that the best person to regulate such a beast is an outsider who disapproves of such practices. I don’t know if that really works… but he’s surely an example of working against the direct teachings of his faith in some respects. Also of note — Reid is against online gaming
because it harms the interests of his constituency.

Prufrock on March 20, 2014 at 11:31 AM

On a more serious note, the thing that bothers me about on-line gambling (and I do play on-line fake-money poker) is that it will be virtually impossible to know the age of the player and that could get a lot kids and their parents in a lot of trouble.

polarglen on March 20, 2014 at 9:59 AM

That’s what my thought was while reading this article. I don’t care so much about regulation of gambling (insofar as the acceptance that it is another avenue degrading societies that allow it); but if these casino owners wanted to put some teeth to their opposition, they should show & prove the steps they have to follow to prevent gambling by those under age/those banned/etc.

All in all, I don’t gamble, and as long as your gambling doesn’t affect me, I don’t care if you do.

Effay5 on March 20, 2014 at 12:01 PM

I can’t imagine why anybody would gamble real money on an unknown and quite possibly untrustworthy silicon chip.

C3PO: R2D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer.

trigon on March 20, 2014 at 12:06 PM

My barber: I just lost $50 in blackjack online.

Me: Did you see the cards? Did you see the dealer?

Barber: No, why?

Me. How do you know you lost?

Wander on March 20, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Is Chaffetz immensely tall or is Lindsay Graham sitting down in that picture on the front page? It looks to me like a one foot height difference … Chaffetz arm is behind Graham so it can’t be that Chaffetz is in the foreground.

gh on March 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Chaffetz actually was a kicker for BYU football back in the late 80s’, so it’s entirely possible that he is that much bigger than Graham.

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

I had never noticed anything remarkable about the height of either one of them in the past. Thanks for the hint.

gh on March 20, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Never trusted this Chaffetz character. He’s closely related to the Dukakis family and was a ‘rat until he decided to be a politician in Utah. The Democrats instruct their agents within the Republican party to spearhead this. They had Kyl do the original one. It’s especially predictable that they’d instruct their agents in Utah and South Carolina do it.

Buddahpundit on March 20, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Actually you can get that $57 back from Pokerstars.

You just can’t play. Yet.

SittingDeadRed on March 20, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Link to above.

SittingDeadRed on March 20, 2014 at 6:19 PM

My barber: I just lost $50 in blackjack online.

Me: Did you see the cards? Did you see the dealer?

Barber: No, why?

Me. How do you know you lost?

Wander on March 20, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Indeed. It’s bad enough that you can’t be sure if the flesh-and-mortar gambling dens aren’t cheating you (yes, I know there are Laws Against That…)

But not in Utah, please.

Vanceone on March 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Something for all you Mormon buddies out there …

Utahans Are Stupid and Dumb – A Revolutionary Rant in Which I Expose Both the Stupidness and Dumbness of Utahans (who aren’t me)

RTWT – then scroll through the comments.
Duh.

AesopFan on March 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Mr. Shaw, where does this cut with anti-prostitution laws, anti-drug laws, and all the rest of the nanny laws? If we have drugs outlawed and we have prostitution outlawed why should we not also have gambling outlawed? Or maybe we should make all three legal and have done with another governmental finger up our collective backsides.

{^_^}

herself on March 21, 2014 at 4:11 AM