Ron Paul: Internet Gambling Ban Is A “Losing Bet”

CRONYISM – NOT MORALITY – BEHIND PROPOSED ONLINE GAMBLING PROHIBITION By RON PAUL  ||  Most Americans, regardless of ideology, oppose “crony capitalism” or “cronyism.”  Cronyism is where politicians write laws aimed at helping their favored business beneficiaries.  Despite public opposition to cronyism, politicians still seek to use the legislative process…


ron paulBy RON PAUL  ||  Most Americans, regardless of ideology, oppose “crony capitalism” or “cronyism.”  Cronyism is where politicians write laws aimed at helping their favored business beneficiaries.  Despite public opposition to cronyism, politicians still seek to use the legislative process to help special interests.

For example, Congress may soon vote on legislation outlawing Internet gambling.  It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson.  Mr. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.

Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor.  Instead, they give a number of high-minded reasons for wanting to ban this activity.  Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists!  But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos.  Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals.  Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.

A federal online gambling ban would overturn laws in three states that allow online gambling.  It would also end the ongoing debate over legalizing online gambling in many other states.  Yet some have claimed that Congress must pass this law in order to protect states rights!  Their argument is that citizens of states that ban Internet gambling may easily get around those laws by accessing online casinos operating in states where online gambling is legalized.

Even if the argument had merit that allowing states to legalize online gambling undermines laws in other states, it would not justify federal legislation on the issue.  Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to regulate activities such as online gambling.  Arguing that “states rights” justifies creating new federal crimes turns the Tenth Amendment, which was intended to limit federal power, on its head.

Many supporters of an Internet gambling ban sincerely believe that gambling is an immoral and destructive activity that should be outlawed.  However, the proposed legislation is not at all about the morality of gambling.  It is about whether Americans who do gamble should have the choice to do so online, or be forced to visit brick-and-mortar casinos.

Even if there was some moral distinction between gambling online or in a physical casino, prohibiting behavior that does not involve force or fraud has no place in a free society.  It is no more appropriate for gambling opponents to use force to stop people from playing poker online than it would be for me to use force to stop people from reading pro-war, neocon writers.

Giving government new powers over the Internet to prevent online gambling will inevitably threaten all of our liberties.  Government bureaucrats will use this new authority to expand their surveillance of the Internet activities of Americans who have no interest in gambling, just as they used the new powers granted by the PATRIOT Act to justify mass surveillance.

The proposed ban on Internet gambling is a blatantly unconstitutional infringement on our liberties that will likely expand the surveillance state.  Worst of all, it is all being done for the benefit of one powerful billionaire.  Anyone who thinks banning online gambling will not diminish our freedoms while enriching criminals is making a losing bet.

Ron Paul is a former U.S. Congressman from Texas and the leader of the pro-liberty, pro-free market movement in the United States. His weekly column – reprinted with permission – can be found here.

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shifty henry November 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Interesting article. I encourage all of you to buy my new book when it is published: “How to Make Lottery Tickets Vital to Your Financial Planning”

Pit Boss November 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Can’t have any competition against the lottery, bingo parlors, casinos, illegal gambling rings set up by local officials, etc.

FastEddy23 November 17, 2014 at 9:07 pm

… and the Catholic Church?

Smirks November 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Adelson loves bribing pols to expand his gambling empire, whether in this country or others.

Online gambling businesses should be subject to the same regulations and taxes as their offline counterparts, nothing more, nothing less.

RogueElephant November 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Gambling. Living proof that a fool and his money are soon parted.

HD November 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

“Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to regulate activities such as online gambling.”

Wrong again…

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3. It’s known as the Commerce Clause. You should read it sometime.

G-Man November 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

The great thing about the commerce clause is that there are no practical limits to what we can regulate with it.

JC November 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I agree with you, but just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Paul is right that this internet gambling ban is a political favor, regardless of whether or not Congress has the plenary power to prohibit it.

FastEddy23 November 17, 2014 at 9:09 pm

This is yet to be determined … and the Supremes have given a pass to the stock markets and their croupiers … Go figure.

HD November 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

I’m not sure what you think has yet to be determined. The Commerce Clause specifically gives Congress the power to regulate commerce between the states or with foreign countries. I’m also not sure how you figure the Commerce Clause doesn’t apply to the stock markets. It most assuredly does.

FastEddy23 November 17, 2014 at 11:55 pm

As pertains to gambling …

The stock, bond and commodities markets have been given an almost totally free hand by the “commerce” department, the SEC, the IRS, the Supreme Court(s), I mean, who got bailed out in ’08? Who has failed to pay transaction taxes and/or income taxes on those bailouts? Was it the unregulated banks and brokers? Does not that mean big heaping piles of intrastate, interstate, international commerce?

These paper hanger paper products are commerce, certainly … but other than the broker’s personal income, left virtually untaxed and unregulated by g’ment. (BTW: the EU, unencumbered by such unconstitutional or constitutional guarantees, does in fact tax stock, bond and commodity paper flipping.)

HD November 18, 2014 at 8:21 am

Your points pertain to the extent to which Congress has or has not exercised its power to regulate certain types of interstate commerce. My point is that Folks is unambiguously incorrect in his assertion that the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the power to regulate online gaming. The Commerce Clause is as clear a grant of such power as one can hope to find. Whether it’s good policy is a different question.

FastEddy23 November 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

One would assume that you believe that congress is in charge … Not!

The federal bureaucracy regularly runs right over any Constitutional Rights without so much as a by your leave from congress. … This is why the “new” republicrats got elected = to hamstring the fed bureaucracy with “cut ’em off at the pockets” promises … It may happen yet.

HD November 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

All of which has precisely nothing to do with anything I’ve said.

FastEddy23 November 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

Then say something simple and direct instead of spouting your newspeak lawyerese road apples.

If you believe that the commerce clause, as currently manipulated by government, has any benefit to US Citizens, other than being used by the bureaucracy as a tool to extract more and more taxes, say so … or take a hike.

HD November 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Ok, let’s see if you can follow this:

Ron Paul said there was no constitutional authority for regulating online gaming. I corrected the good doctor by pointing out that the Commerce Clause gives explicit authority to Congress to regulate commerce between the states and with foreign countries. You then proceeded to yammer on about various complaints you have with the way Congress has or has not exercised its Commerce Clause powers. I then pointed out that your comments were unrelated to my point. You then expanded your irrelevant complaints and invited me to comment on them or “take a hike.” That’s pretty much it. I decline your invitation. If by “take a hike” you mean ignore any future stupidity from you, I accept that invitation.

FastEddy23 November 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

There is Constitutional authority and treaty authority for it. The Constitution does not address gambling at all. Several Supreme Court decisions have affirmed the rights of the native tribes to enter into this kind of commerce, confirming their rights to do so by treaty.

Yes, take a hike, please.

M2000 November 18, 2014 at 12:16 am

Bet Papa Paul’s son Rand will soon pal around with this idea, before he was against it.

Sal20111 November 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm

So Adelson believes online gambling is a “societal train wreck” but gambling in the flesh in one of his casinos is a morally purifying exercise?

The US populace, electorate really needs to wake up and smell the espresso martini.


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