Opposing Views on US Internet Gambling


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Barney Frank and Spencer Bachus present their cases

The publication US News gave American politicians Barney Frank and arch rival Spencer Bachus plenty of space to present their strongly opposing views on Internet gambling this week, bringing a welcome exposure to the subject shortly after Frank launched his latest bill to legalise and regulate the pastime in the United States.

The result is an interesting comparison of the libertarian approach aimed at protectiing the rights and freedoms of citizens espoused by Democrat congressman Frank, and a more moralistic, controlling attitude from Republican politician Spencer Bachus.

The two views, which can be found at
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raise nothing really new in the arguments deployed by the two men, but it is a useful reference to their debating positions and widely differing attitudes on how the US citizen should be treated in his or her personal use of the Internet.

Frank concludes: "Finally, there are two blatant contradictions in the position of those conservatives who push to outlaw Internet gambling. First, it is the most glaring example we have of interfering with freedom on the Internet. Second, to those who claim to be unhappy with the intrusiveness of the "nanny state," there is no stronger case than for a nanny government insisting we be "better" people by reducing our freedom."

Bachus, who tends to use incidents to reinforce his often sweeping statements, ends his presentation by saying: "Even if one concedes that legalization and regulation could possibly prevent underage gambling, compulsive play, cheating by casinos as documented by 60 Minutes and the Washington Post, and money laundering or drug trafficking by criminals on U.S.-sanctioned gambling sites, the pre-2006 problem of predatory, illegal offshore casino bets would return. One country's rules would be woefully insufficient. Ultimately, the results of legalization would be expanding, sanctioning, and inevitably losing control of an industry that offers few advantages to the economy or tax base but incredible pain to families across the country."

The two arguments are well worth reading, and the presentations are followed by an online poll where readers can indicate whether online gambling should or should not be legalised and regulated in America - when InfoPowa visited the voting was overwhelmingly in favour of legalisation.


Banned User - repetitive flaming
Jul 23, 2006
Manchester UK
Great post Jetset, thanks.

Mr Bachus appears to want to bury His head in the sand.

I completely understand his moral stance and can empathize with much that he says but the balance here is personal freedom before censorship and prohibition.

What the democratic Governments of the World appear to have forgotten is that they are there by the will of the people to carry out the peoples mandate and not impose their own moral or religious beliefs on others.
OK so this issue has a political aspect too but that is what legislation is for.

All of Mr Bachus's arguments can be much better addressed by proper regulation rather than by playing Big Brother with citizens personal freedoms.

So what are we left with - the moral argument - surely that is for the individual to decide and not some righteous dogmatist in high office?


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001
Unfortunately there are power-drunk politicians and control freaks everywhere trying to impose their will on the folks they are supposed to be serving.

There's another attempt to censor the Internet brewing in Denmark at present, too - but it's getting a huge amount of flak:


Comparisons with oppressive regimes in China and North Korea made

The Danish government's putative plans to censor the Internet by asking ISPs to block specified websites that reportedly include online gambling enterprises has come in for some stiff criticism this week in the Danish newspaper The Copenhagen Post.

The newspaper reports that Denmark is being compared with North Korea and China for its proposal to block internet users from accessing certain websites, which have been labelled as hypocritical by a group of executives claiming that a proposal to prevent Danish internet connections from accessing foreign gambling websites spells the beginning of the end of the free internet as Danes know it.

In an opinion piece titled STOP! You are not allowed to use this website, published in Berlingske Tidende, executives from the Danish Energy Association, the Confederation of Danish Industries, the Bar and Law Society, Telecommunications Industry Association and FDIM (the lobby organisation for internet media), compare Denmark with China and North Korea when it comes to blocking access to certain internet websites.

The group accepted that blocking some sites, such as those with child pornography, made sense, but called the proposal to block access to gambling sites and sites with pirated content a slippery slope.

The state maintains a monopoly on gambling services through its Danske Spil venture, but with the likelihood that a liberalisation of the market in conformance with general European trends will be approved, a proposal to deny access to foreign gambling sites could be interpreted as a way to protect the state gaming agency from foreign competition - to the detriment of Danish punters.

Blocking certain sites, the group said, would mean we could no longer be outraged when the Chinese and North Korean governments block access to foreign websites.

It asks whether blocked sites would also include Irans official website for thundering against Western values, video sharing site YouTube, which gives access to large amounts of illegal content or search engine Google, which no doubt is used by some to find and download illegal information.

Clement Salung Petersen, of University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law, called it worrisome that the government would rather restrict access to the internet than increase efforts to prosecute those who commit internet crimes.

Helge Sander, the science minister, said that regulating gambling by blocking foreign websites did not conflict with its efforts to protect the freedom of speech.

Responses to the article were universally against the idea:

"I suspect this clampdown has everything to do with the Danish government being unable to collect taxes from gambling on foreign sites," wrote one poster.

Another posted: "Control and taxes. Says it all - only one reason for the ban- NON TAXABLE WINNINGS...and the goverment scared to death that someone might be a little happy for once,instead of being brainwashed and made to be so miserable all the time and act like the puppets they want us to be.... MOVE WITH THE TIMES DK GOVERNMENT....give the danes a choice for once."

A third wrote: "Even though taxation is not mentioned directly in the article, that is at the heart of the government's proposal to block these sites because the governement cannot generate tax income on foreign sites and will have a difficult time collecting taxes on winnings. Note that through DanskeSpil, they do not have either of these problems. This story is a great example of taxation taking away personal freedoms."


Moderated User - posts must be approved
Jan 23, 2008
Miami, I, I mean Montreal
SPENCER BAUCHUS: Internet gambling's characteristics are unique: Online players can gamble 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home
So they can play 24/7 from home instead of 24/7 at a casino? Not a big difference. Of course arguing that the convenience or competitive superiority of a product is a reason for it's prohibition is by itself absurd. (We could ban 24 packs of beer or Corvettes using similar arguments)

children may play without sufficient age verification
and betting with a credit card can undercut a player's perception of the value of cash, leading to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime.
Big assertion, no citation of evidence. It is widely known that credit card usage tends to negatively affect consumers "perception of the value of cash". I am not aware of any major enterprise in the United States, most notably casinos, that do not either have an ATM machine or accept credit cards. Is he suggesting we ban credit cards because of their negative effects on "utility".

Young people are particularly at risk because a computer in the bedroom or dorm room of a young person is a temptation that many may fall prey to

This is starting to sound like a sermon from some 1950's Southern Baptist. Yes it is quite tempting to have a computer in the bedroom or dorm room Senator, I am not quite as convinced as you are though as to the machine's "predatory" nature.

For more than a decade, Congress has sought to deter, not promote, Internet gambling.

Congress has no business deterring it. That Congress would actively promote it is complete farse. Providing a legal framework is a far cry from promotion, as Mr. Frank pointed out.

It has always been illegal.
Lie. Even so it's prior legal status has what to do with any argument for or against? What about slavery, women's vote, marijuana laws and every other unjust law that's existed, were they justified by their prior existence?

but until recently no one could enforce the law because the casinos were offshore, far away from the jurisdiction of law enforcement.

But they could shake down foreign citizens for hundreds of millions of dollars while avoiding actually having to make an argument in court.

The 2006 law was designed to make it impossible to use a bank instrument like a credit card or money transfer or check to settle an illegal online wager.

Wow, that's really worked out well.

Unfortunately, this came too late for Greg Hogan's family in Hudson, Ohio. He described to our Financial Services Committee how his son, the president of his class at Lehigh University, became a gambling addict.

So if I go out and find someone who was ejected from their car during a 150 MPH booze crazed roll-over before it exploded in a gigantic fireball, then maybe he could testify to Congress on why not wearing a seatbelt saved his life and how it could save your's too. Anecdotal anomolies can be dramatic but don't contain much useful information. Totally disingenuous argument by the Senator.

Realizing the problem, Hogan installed protective software on his son's computer to prevent him from gambling online. But offshore casinos can find ways to bypass these filters, and the young man accumulated such massive gambling debts that he robbed a bank to try to pay them off. He was sent to prison.

Well he tried his damndest to block access from his house but gosh darnit, it didn't work. So now he's just gonna have to block access from everyone's house becuase he needs to find an answer other than his son's psychopathic personality to explain his anti-social free for all. And let's keep in mind, this man is a reverend so we know that this must be due to external evils having their way with Good People.

Concerned about the integrity of their games, professional and college sports organizations urged passage of the antigambling law.

Heaven forbid a college basketball game might be rigged. That would surely mark the end of Western civilization.

In this particular case, the federal government would be overturning laws in 50 states that regulate gambling. The state attorneys general say they need the antigambling law.

Ironically the UIGEA needs the state's anti-gambling laws by definition . Maybe it's irony or maybe it's another poorly researched non-argument on the Senator's part.

The Internet gambling operations are, in essence, the functional equivalent of wholly unregulated offshore banks with the bettor accounts serving as bank accounts for account holders who are, in the virtual world, virtually anonymous. For these reasons, Internet gambling operations are vulnerable to be used not only for money laundering but also for criminal activities ranging from terrorist financing to tax evasion."

Alright, this is getting tiresome. As near as I can tell, every single one of the Senator's statements is either a complete non-sequitur, a flat out lie or a gross misrepresentation of the facts. This stands in stark contrast to Barney Frank's very well presented, philosophical piece.

I am all for debate but the opposition's arguments are so tenuous and naive that it's hard to imagine anyone but religious fundamentalists taking them seriously.


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001
My thoughts exactly - Bachus relies heavily on individual anecdotes to support his desire to make everyone toe his particular line.

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