Categories: Bitcoin Politics

Internet Gambling Ban: Bitcoin Boom or Bane?

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It would be difficult to find a nonpolitician to agree that the United States has anything close to a functional Congress. The conservative wave that seems to be sweeping the United States political world actually does little to defend an entity that does not contribute heavily to its political ambitions. The new Congress, now completely controlled by conservatives, seems to be bent on continuing its attacks on regular citizens with this suggested new proposed legislation that would ban gambling on the internet.

Former Governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer, once advised voters to “follow the money if you want to know who to vote for,” and Roemer’s advice was definitely sound in the matter.

Sheldon Adelson is one of the most successful casino owners in the world, with holdings in the United States and Hong Kong. He is also one of the most prolific donors to the Republican Party in the United States. The billionaire donated at least US$53 million during the 2012 election. Adelson told Steven Bertoni of Forbes magazine that he was concerned President Obama was attempting to make the United States a Socialist country. The fact is that the casino mogul has made more money, US$17.1 billion, under the Obama administration than any other American.

But Adelson might have another agenda. The billionaire is currently under investigation for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by both the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The probes indicate that Adelson bribed public officials in China and had links to an organized crime figure in that region.

Along with his legal problem, America’s 11th richest person has also been outspoken in his dislike of internet gambling. In June of 2013, he urged the US government to ban the activity. In an article on the same date, he called internet gambling “a fake” that forces players to “lose their savings” with the click of a mouse, as opposed of course to losing their life savings at the roll of the dice in his casinos.

Adelson might not have been very successful during the 2012 election cycle, but at least three state governors — Rick “Oops” Perry of Texas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — called on the US Congress to support Adelson’s pitch to ban internet gambling.

Internet Gambling Ban: Bitcoin Boom or Bane?

Where the latest attack on internet gambling is coming from is subject to debate. One report claims that Adelson himself drafted the proposed legislation, but the blog The Hill said that a coalition of gambling companies was pushing H.R. 4301 because they wanted to “fix” the 1961 Wire Act. The new bill, entitled Restoration of America's Wire Act, is being introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). Chaffetz’s top political contributors come from the internet and telecom industry, among them Comcast. The bill states in part:

“Restoration of America's Wire Act — Amends provisions of the federal criminal code, commonly known as the Wire Act, to provide that the prohibition against transmission of wagering information shall apply to any bet or wager, or information assisting in the placing of any bet or wager (thus making such prohibition applicable to all types of gambling activities, including internet gambling). States that nothing in this Act shall be construed to: (1) preempt any state law prohibiting gambling; or (2) alter, limit, or extend the relationship between the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 and other federal laws currently in effect, the ability of a state licensed lottery retailer to make in-person, computer-generated retail lottery sales, or the relationship between federal laws and state charitable gaming laws.”

If this legislation passes, what it could mean for the Bitcoin community is an important issue. The community seems upset by the idea of big industry controlling the internet, but there are other issues to consider. For one, if Bitcoin is not considered currency, then this legislation will not likely apply to Bitcoin gambling sites. It would seem that applying legislation of this type would require a new definition of Bitcoin and how it works.

There is also the question of whether this legislation will even make it through Congress, and then of President Obama’s veto pen. Obama seems to be on a left-leaning bent, making numerous statements about supporting net neutrality. Unfortunately, President Obama hardly has a sterling track record of following up his speeches with actions that support his words.

The president has supported net neutrality before, yet he appointed a telecommunications industry lobbyist who has spoken openly about his opposition to net neutrality. Politics will be politics, and whatever happens, we can be sure that the regular citizen will likely end up drawing the short straw yet again.

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