Libertarian CEI Knocks GOP Internet Gambling Bills

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which yesterday said it sued the White House’s science office, today is attacking Republican legislation that would revive a ban on online gambling. In a report titled “Republicans’ Bad Bet,” the libertarian CEI says House and Senate bills by Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., respectively, would have a number of negative effects. “Not only does this heavy-handed proposal trample on state and individuals’ rights to make such decisions, it will utterly fail to stop Americans from gambling online,” pushing them into foreign-owned sites instead, the report says.

The lawmakers unveiled their legislation in March; at that point, Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski wrote that both sides of the debate seemed to want to “get out of the regulatory no man’s land” created by the Justice Department’s 2011 reinterpretation of the Wire Act, which had blocked online gambling in the U.S. until that point.

In an April hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department could revisit the issue. “We’ll look at the statute,” Holder said in a response to questions from Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va. “I don’t know what the — I frankly don’t know what the administration’s policy or policy determination would be with regard to that question, but we’ll certainly look at the statute and provide the technical assistance that might be required.”

Another libertarian organization, Reason magazine, also has criticized the Chaffetz/Graham legislation in a blog post in April, calling the measure the “Chaffetz-Graham-Adelson bill” because of the involvement of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, a Nevada-based casino magnate.