Libertarian Groups Attack Federal Online Gaming Ban

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federal anti-online gaming ban Institute for Liberty libertarian
Institue for Liberty is one of several libertarian groups opposed to a federal anti-online gaming ban.

More and more voices are joining the chorus of dissent towards the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R.4301), the Sheldon Adelson-backed federal bill to ban online gambling. In the same week that New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak branded the proposed ban “irresponsible”, and said that the government has “no place telling states like New Jersey that have already implemented successful programs to shut them down,” a number of libertarian groups joined the fray, warning that a federal ban would begin “a dangerous process of Internet censorship.”

In an open letter to Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley, and Representatives Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers, the group wrote that “by banning a select form of Internet commerce, the federal government is setting a troubling precedent and providing fodder to those who would like to see increased Internet regulation in the future.”

Signatories of the letter included members of the Alliance for Freedom, the American Consumer Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Action, FreedomWorks, the Independent Women’s Forum, the Institute for Liberty, the Institute for Policy Innovation, the R Street Institute and the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.

H.R. 4301 “Inappropriate and Unnecessary”

“We fear that H.R. 4301 will begin a dangerous process of Internet censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by calculated international infringers while constraining the actions of private individuals and companies in the United States,” declared the group, adding that the fact that the bill creates exemptions for the horseracing industry amounts to “the federal government picking winners and losers – choosing select industries or private-sector businesses to succeed at the expense of others, which is at odds with free-market competition.

“In total, H.R. 4301 is an inappropriate and unnecessary use of federal powers that infringes on the rights of individuals and states,” the coalition concluded.

“Discussions are Irrelevant”

Meanwhile, in related news, the author of a new white paper entitled “Jackpot! Money Laundering Through Online Gambling” has distanced himself from both sides of the argument, stating that the findings in his report have been misrepresented by both the pro- and anti-online gambling lobbies. Raj Samani, chief technology officer of McAfee, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that “unfortunately, there has been some angry debate over the report … the reality is that most of (the discussions) are irrelevant to the findings.”

Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gaming claimed earlier in the week that the report proved that Internet gambling will facilitate money laundering by criminals and terrorists, while Alison Harden, for the pro-online gambling Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, argued that the McAfee study showed a federal ban would lead to more unregulated websites.

Both parties missed the point, said Samani, and the question is not one of regulation at all.

“In any jurisdiction criminals can circumvent any obstacle used to block their access,” he said. “You put in regulations, the criminals will find another vehicle… for every licensed online gambling site, there could be up to nine unlicensed online gambling sites.”

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