United States lawmakers have an often-confusing relationship with gambling, as well as with technology. While they often gain benefits from the taxes levied on gambling, there is a veneer of moral regulation that often leads those in Congress to argue against gambling in addition to passing laws to restrict it.
In fact another round of these arguments is going on right now. However, there’s more to this latest bill against online gambling than meets the eye.
What’s Going On?
On the surface the bills introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz look like politics as usual. These bills are aimed at curbing the expansion of online gambling in the United States further than is already the case, restricting online casinos from boasting features like online poker, slot machines, or table games. For those who are regular patrons of online casinos these pieces of legislation would completely gut the games offered by most online casinos. While there are some games that would still be available, a lot of players would be very upset if these bills were signed into law.
Why Is This Happening?
The bills, both the one in the House of Representatives and the one in the Senate, are both aiming for a “protect the children” angle. The idea seems to be that online casinos are somehow a threat to children, even though they require a bank account and the ability to be of a legal age in order to play. The angle plays very well in the media, especially among moral crusaders who feel that online gambling is a shady operation that should be done away with completely, but there are dark shapes moving much deeper below the surface.
Who’s Backing These Bills?
Anyone who follows politics knows that nothing happens without someone using a lot of time and money to put an issue on top of the “fix this” board that legislators work from. While the usual suspects of the moral majority, the religious right, and advocates who want to make gambling in all its forms illegal make good targets, the actual person funding these bills might come as a surprise.
The funding is coming out of Las Vegas. Specifically speaking, the funding is coming in large part from Sheldon Adelson; the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands. Why is one of the biggest gambling establishments in a place called Sin City funding a bill to stop Internet gambling? Well, the short version is because if the bill goes through it would crush the Sands’ competition.
The Big Picture
The popularity of online gambling means that people don’t have to go to a physical casino to gamble anymore. Players can use any device with Internet access, and enjoy all of the gambling they want. This is a nail in the coffin of big outfits like those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, who depend on people coming fro all over the country to play. If online gambling is cut off at the knees, people will have no other choice but to seek offline solutions.