One Step Closer to Legally Gambling Online?

The House Financial Services Committee voted 41-22 yesterday to report a bill legalizing online gambling out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote, should the Democratic leadership choose to pursue it (Wall Street Journal [$]). This is heartening news.

As I’ve written before, though, the ability to spend your time and money as you choose doesn’t come without a price, and indeed one of the reasons the bill is having more success than previous efforts is the realization by lawmakers (following the lead of their European brethren) that gambling could be a lucrative source of revenue in these fiscally frightening times.  Tuesday’s New York Times had a good story on the EU experience, with one quote from a European gambling analyst making an excellent point about the true gambling addiction in society:

“I think the penny has dropped,” said Simon Holliday, an analyst at H2 Gambling Capital. “They deregulate a little bit, like what happens and deregulate more. The governments get more addicted to the tax than the players to the games.

Some lawmakers also support this legislation because they recognize that many leading online gambling firms are European – partly because of fewer restrictions that have allowed the firms to flourish–  and seek to create “American jobs for American workers” by promoting a domestic online gaming industry. The NYT article offers some sobering words for them, too, by pointing out that the Europeans are way ahead in this field. Not that the national origin of the gaming firm should matter, of course.

HTs: Radley Balko and my colleague Kurt Couchman