Our globe-trotting Representative, Jim McDermott, yesterday 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?
Flickr McDermott doesn't think you should have to fly all the way to Vegas to blow your 401K on a roulette table.
His actions have earned McDermott an unlikely fan base--online poker players. Dan Cypra of pokernewsdaily.com calls McDermott one of "the four horseman 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 Pete King (R-NY) have been trying to repeal the law, hoping to regulate and tax the industry instead. So when Cypra uses an Apocalyptic reference like the four horsemen--he means it as a good thing."Our industry is one of the few where people are jumping up and down to be taxed," Cypra says, by way of explaining gamers' support for McDermott. It's only by getting taxed, he says, that online gambling gains legitimacy. 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. The Spokane man arrested yesterday for his 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?