In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama blasted colleagues for placing holds on political appointees and other obstructive tactics:
Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators.
He was likely referring to Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) decision to block Treasury nominees in retaliation for the delayed implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The enforcement has been delayed for six months due to confusion and ambiguity associated with the law. Kyl has been pursuing similar legislation for close to a decade and, unfortunately, has been moderately successful in limiting U.S. access to the online gambling market.
Sen. Kyl believes the ban is in the best interest of the United States, arguing: “Betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of the money that the player is losing – leading to possible addiction and, in turn, to bankruptcy, crime, and suicide.” The nanny state is at it again. Should we ban online shopping? I really regret a few of the purchases I’ve made on Amazon.com. Online gambling provides numerous benefits over brick and mortar gambling, mainly convenience and privacy. Yes, you can gamble in your underwear.
A 2007 study (p. 12) from the UK notes that less than 1 percent of the general public are susceptible to problem gambling, unchanged from 1999 despite the surge in popularity of online gambling. Why ruin an enjoyable activity to protect the minority of citizens who cannot control themselves? Would Kyl support a ban on credit cards, cigarettes, guns, et cetera? I’d be hard pressed to think of any activities which couldn’t lead to bankruptcy, crime, or suicide, if the participant is irresponsible or reckless.
In 2009, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) unveiled the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act of 2009, which seeks to regulate internet gambling. Frank hopes the act will pass before the implementation of the UIGEA in June of this year. This bill would be a large improvement over the UIGEA, and might solve some of the few legitimate issues such as restricting the access of youth.
Here is more information on the history of online gambling legislation.