Jim McDermott Gambling Bill Gets A Boost Thanks To Bumbling Opposition

Good news for online poker fans, your biggest opponent had a rough morning in Congress today.
It's always nice when, instead of defending your position, you can sit back and let the opposition make themselves look ridiculous. Such was the case at this morning's hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Jim McDermott's proposal to legalize and tax online gambling.

No members of the industry were present, but they hardly needed to make an appearance thanks to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, speaking for the opposition. Goodlatte authored the bill that formally made internet gambling illegal in 2006 and his appearance this morning to defend it wasn't stellar.

Besides having a snicker-inducing name, he found himself twisting as committee members peppered him over his supposedly no-tolerance stance on gambling and his past history with the industry.

First, Charlie Rangel, D-NY, made Goodlatte's position on gambling seem ridiculous.

"Well again, I am opposed to gambling," Goodlatte insisted.

"Bingo?" retorted Rangel.

Goodlatte tried to dance around the subject, but Rangel persisted finally getting Goodlatte to say "I would be opposed to [Bingo]."

"So you oppose Bingo operating in churches," Rangel confirmed.

Later Shelley Berkeley, D-Nev., went for the credibility jugular. The Las Vegas native waited the better part of an hour before reading a prepared statement wherein she blasted Goodlatte for claiming to oppose all forms of gambling while working on behalf of the horse racing industry to keep betting on ponies legal. According to Daily Kos, Goodlatte has received $40,000 from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

There to speak on behalf of his own bill, all McDermott really had to do was occasionally remind everyone of a PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that state and federal governments could receive upwards of $42 billion in new taxes if online gambling were legalized.

McDermott noted that under his bill, states would still be allowed to outlaw online gambling individually so if Goodlatte and his home state of Virginia don't want a cut of that internet poker tax money "they're perfectly free to be righteous and pure."

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