Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Time To Legalize Gambling

I am a gambler. I love the rush - the anticipation of every pitch, the excitement of a three-pointer and the hope of a missed field goal. Anyone who has ever placed a wager, whether it be a $5 bet on a Super Bowl coin flip or a $1000 roll on a craps table, will know from the very first time whether or not they are truly a gambler. I'm not proud of it, but I also am not ashamed. It's who I am and I deal with the harsh reality of having such a vice.

I don't need anybody to protect myself from it either. And that somebody is U.S. House Representative Spencer Bachus. He is the one leading the charge against internet gambling. On the other side is Rep. Barney Frank from Massachusetts, who is trying to pass a bill for legalization. Dueling columns written by the two men on gives both sides of the argument, but since Frank's views are similar to mine, let me point out the voice of the opposition:

- Betting with a credit card undercuts a player's perception of the value of cash, which leads to addiction
- Underage kids can bypass age verification
- Underage kids fall prey due to computer access
- Gambling is 24/7 online
- Internet operations are vulnerable to criminal activity
- Regulation is hard and takes time

The first four points all have something in common, so I'll address those first. The idea that using credit cards somehow tricks people into betting more than they can afford has less to do with gambling and everything to do with, ahem, credit cards. This is the society we live in, folks. Millions of Americans use their magic pieces of plastic to buy things they can't afford. Personal responsibility, or the lack thereof, is a national problem that extends way farther than

That lack of control is also what the fear of 24/7 gambling is all about. Frank makes an excellent point that it is quite curious that conservatives, who are always complaining about a Democratic "nanny" government, seem very interesting and protecting ourselves from ourselves. So what if I spend 12 straight hours playing Seven-Card Stud High-Low Eight-Or-Better against a businessman from Singapore and a college dropout from Houston? Who am I hurting? Believe me, if anything I'm buying that businessman a new Porsche or getting that kid back into school. I suck at poker.

The other three points I will lightly touch on. First, if you're worried that college kids are using their laptops to play computer games, God bless you. You don't want to know what they're actually using it for. Just type in "two girls" into Google. See what your kids are really watching.

Age-verification and criminal activity can be solved by one thing: legalization. That will bring regulation, the arch-enemy of Republicans. Well, business regulation that is. As far as regulating your own behavior, they're all for it. As Bachus puts it, "new legislation would direct the Treasury Department to set up a new regulatory regime to oversee shadowy foreign gaming enterprises in a mere matter of months". That's how Bachus thinks, because that's how the media works. If things aren't running smoothly in a short time frame, it must be a bust. Truth is, the process will be long and tedious, and in the dawn of gambling's legalization there will be a lot of fake sites and "shadowy foreign gaming enterprises". But, as the saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy. We'll have to take the lumps. I'm okay with that.

While Frank is still anti-sports betting, I applaud him for his effort. He is still a politician and I am sure his stance against all other gambling is purely political. But I'm tired of people telling me what to do.

As Frank so eloquently put it himself: "the vast majority of human activities should be neither encouraged nor outlawed by the government but rather be left entirely to the choice of free individuals."


J Fish Sports © 2008. Design by :Yanku Templates Sponsored by: Tutorial87 Commentcute