GOP takes another suspicious run at banning online gambling

I’m not sure how many times we’re going to have to go through this same circus act in Congress but it’s a movement which doesn’t seem to be fading in popularity among a few Republican senators. There’s yet another bill being introduced which would effectively ban online gambling in the United States, targeting credit card companies and banks in a way which would forbid them from processing internet gaming transactions.

Even if this move were a measure of some pure-of-heart, deep concern over the financial welfare of Americans with a gambling addiction or an effort to stop scam artists from fleecing the unwary (spoiler alert: it’s not), the timing of the proposal and the names of the players involved make it look like the worst sort of government cronyism. This aspect of the debate is ably displayed by the Washington Post as they lead with the news that none other than Sheldon Adelson is tied into the effort.

The day after it became public that billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson gave $20 million to a super PAC with close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), three GOP senators introduced legislation that would effectively ban online gambling — a measure Adelson has long pushed for…

The bill is a revamped version of a previous Adelson-backed measure that would ban Internet gambling. The latest version was introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). The measure would prohibit financial institutions from processing Internet gambling transactions.

Graham in 2015 introduced a previous version of the bill, Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that Adelson dumped tens of millions of dollars into the GOP backing Senate Leadership Fund the day before Tom Cotton introduced this new bill. The legislation itself is painfully transparent in what’s being requested. There is no move here to shut down gambling entirely, assuming that anyone is claiming that such habits are immoral or dangerous. There’s also no discussion of shutting down state sanctioned gambling – most particularly the lottery – where low income people can easily dump disastrous amounts of their paycheck into gambling which fills state government coffers. This is aimed solely at internet gambling, and the people most hurt by such activity are the casino owners.

This is blatant hypocrisy and obvious cronyism. It’s also far afield from the conservative principle of personal responsibility. If you want to gamble and it’s legal to do so, then you are free to make that choice provided you’re willing to live with the consequences of your actions. If some of our senators truly want to declare gambling to be an immoral evil which should be removed from America’s shores (and there’s obviously an argument to be made for that if you are so inclined) then they should simply introduce legislation which makes all gambling illegal and shuts down the lotteries along with the casinos.

But that would take a lot of money out of government pockets which have long been accustomed to profiting from it. These continued attempts to push through a bill specifically designed to benefit huge contributors who run casinos is an embarrassment.


David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022