Poker Ban’s Unintended Consequences
Radley Balko observes that the poker ban that Bill Frist stuck into an unrelated port security bill to ensure its passage will almost certainly have exactly the opposite public policy impact touted by its sponsors.
The major gaming sites — that is, the legitimate companies regulated by British law and traded on the London Stock Exchange — announced over the weekend that they’ll cease offering service to U.S. customers the moment President Bush signs the bill.
For all the talk from Sen. Frist, Sen. Kyl, and Rep. Goodlatte about the dangers of this “unregulated” industry, the bill they’ve just passed will actually put the well-regulated gambling sites out of reach of U.S. customers. The end result? Online poker and other gaming sites will soon be even less regulated, more likely to induce children, and more likely to defraud U.S. consumers than ever before. Meanwhile, one of the most addictive forms of gambling — state lotteries — will soon make an en masse move online, thanks to an exemption in the bill that effectively creates an online monopoly for them.
In short, in an intrusive, big government effort to protect Americans from themselves, Congress has passed a futile, hypocritical, counter-productive, protectionist piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for millions of Americans to engage in an activity most participate in responsibly and moderately. For those people, the bill will probably work. But it’ll do little to prevent problem gambling, children’s access to gaming sites, or online fraud.
Despicable. And yet another reason for libertarian minded Republicans to be glad when Frist is gone.
Perhaps Steve Bainbridge and others are right. With each passing scandal, intrusion into our liberty, and billion in pork spending, it gets harder to make the case that the Republicans deserve to hold onto power.
Really, the only claim the GOP has at this point is that they’re better on security issues. It’s bad enough to exploit the public’s fear of terrorism to create unnecessary programs and ignore Constitutional protections in the name of “security.” To use that fear as a means of advancing pork barrel spending and advancing an unpopular social agenda, though, is loathsome.