Jim's Feeling Lucky

Rep. McDermott tries again to legalize online gambling, and this time he wants to do it for the kids.

Our globe-trotting Congressional representative, Jim McDermott, last week unveiled the newest plan of attack in his ongoing mission to make it legal to blow your savings at online poker tables. He wants to tax Internet gambling operations and give the money back to states to support the foster-care system. Legalize online betting for the kids...how can you oppose that?His actions have earned McDermott an unlikely fan base—online poker players. Dan Cypra of pokernewsdaily.com calls McDermott one of "the four horsemen of the Internet gambling revolution." Since 2006, when Congress passed a bill outlawing the industry, McDermott, Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), and Peter King (R-N.Y.) have been trying to repeal the law, hoping to regulate and tax the industry instead. So when Cypra uses the Apocalyptic reference, he means it in a good way."Our industry is one of the few where people are jumping up and down to be taxed," Cypra says. That's the only way to gain legitimacy, he says. Exactly what would be legalized remains to be seen—the NFL and Las Vegas have lobbied hard against letting anyone outside of sanctioned bookies run a sports-gambling operation. A Spokane man arrested last week for running a car-racing betting site, fantasythunder.com, might still be out of luck, even if McDermott's bill passes.Michael Waxman, spokesperson for the lobbying group Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, says his organization has been working with McDermott (whom he calls "Jim") since 2007 to legalize the industry, though so far to no avail. Religious activist groups like Focus on the Family vehemently oppose all legalization, calling gambling, online or otherwise, "morally bankrupt from its very foundation."PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the feds could collect as much as $42 billion in new taxes if online gambling were legalized. "That provides more incentive for Congress to pay attention and look to better use this money that's sitting on that table," says Waxman.Morally bankrupt money, perhaps—but come on, Congress, when has that stopped you from taking cash before?

 
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