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Europe, U.S. All Mull Over Legalized Online Gambling: Markup Delayed

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/27/2010

 

In the U.S. today (July 27), a markup of an online gambling legalization bill authored by Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) was to be voted on during a hearing in Washington, D.C.  However, due to a long lunch delay, that vote has been postponed until Wednesday.  

HR 2267 is the third of seven bills to be discussed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee, which could see the USA a step closer to legalizing online gambling.   

HR 2267 would provide for the licensing of Internet gambling activities by the Secretary of the Treasury, to provide for consumer protections on the Internet, to enforce the tax code, and for other purposes.

The U.S. could be moving in the direction of its European counterparts, many of which have stood firmly against the legalization of online gambling in recent years. 

France has just begun to license online poker and sports betting establishments.  It was only two years ago that they were arresting operators of such businesses.

“What’s happened is a realization that you can’t uninvent the Internet,” David Trunkfield, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told the New York Times. “People are gaming online. You either try to regulate and tax it, or people are going to go to the offshore operators, where you don’t get any revenue.”

Eric Pfanner of the New York Times writes that, while U.S. opposition to Internet betting has centered on concerns about gambling addiction, European politicians previously objected for a different reason: liberalizing the practice, they feared, would undermine state-sponsored lottery monopolies and gambling operators.

Some would object to the idea that the U.S. government is only concerned about addictions.  It seems clear they have many of the same fears as the European nations.  “Addiction” is an excuse often hurled around by politicians and other religious zealots to create a sort of fear factor.

Ultimately, the recession seems to be playing a leading role in a move by nations to legalize online gambling. Individual states in the U.S. are also in the process of considering legalization as a means of boosting their own local economies:  New Jersey, California, Florida among them.  

Pfanner offers tangible evidence as to how legalized online gambling can help accelerate economies. 

France, which started allowing private companies to offer online sports betting just in time for the World Cup soccer tournament, said that in the first month gamblers opened more than 1.2 million new accounts, betting €83 million, or $108 million, on licensed sites. That was nearly twice as much as the amount legally wagered online in the comparable period a year earlier, when state-run betting sites were the only option.

Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com 

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