La Editorial Attacks Legislative Interference In '07 Superbowl

La Editorial Attacks Legislative Interference In '07 Superbowl



"Instead of raising tax revenue from football betting, the government chooses to prosecute morality."


2007-02-04

"Instead of raising tax revenue from football betting, the government chooses to prosecute morality."

The Los Angeles Times published a timely op-ed piece on federal interference in online gamling leading up to this weekend's US Superbowl football spectacular, saying that millions of Americans have engaged in criminal behaviour leading up to the big match.

"You know who you are — those of you outside Nevada who placed bets on the Indianapolis Colts or Chicago Bears," the author writes with some sarcasm. "It's estimated that about $5 billion will be on the line this afternoon in a nation in which even office pools are technically illegal in some states."

The article goes on to explain the background, detailing the questionable passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and its impact on Americans' convenience and ability to pursue their leisure pastime of choice.

"Although most fans in the free world can place bets with regulated online casinos, U.S. law enforcement has been busy cracking down on the heinous crime, going after enabling credit card companies, detaining those who run legal foreign online sites if they deign to enter the country and subpoenaing major Wall Street investment banks involved in overseas initial public offerings of online casinos," the article continues.

"It's another brazen attempt to extent prudish American mores to other jurisdictions."

One bemused Las Vegas sports handicapper told the Wall Street Journal last week that the ban on Internet gambling should be renamed the "Sopranos Support Bill," because the main beneficiaries of keeping closely regulated casinos from doing business online are bookies. Instead of protecting consumers and raising tax revenue from this popular entertainment, the government is protecting the turf of unsavory bookies, many of whom have ties to organized crime.

The LA Times piece concludes with the observation that the US gambling crackdown is part of a broader trend of a paternalist state protecting citizens from themselves, curtailing their freedoms in the process.

"We live in a nation still engaged in a war on terror and in a city struggling with escalating gang violence, yet precious law enforcement resources are being spent on prosecuting morality. But, for today, enjoy the game while pretending you don't know the spread. After all, that could prove incriminating," the author concludes.

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