New Analysis: Internet Gambling Ban is a Bad Bet

WASHINGTON, May 6 – Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released new analysis by CEI fellow Michelle Minton on recent proposals by congressional Republicans to ban online gambling. According to Minton’s report, titled “Republicans’ Bad Bet,” prohibiting online gambling would trample individual and states’ rights, while benefiting casino interests at the expense of consumers. 

“This bill won’t stop Internet gambling,” said Minton. “What this bill will do is forbid states from making their own choices about online gambling, guarantee that gambling websites will be operated in foreign countries, and protect special interests like Las Vegas casino owners who support a ban. You know something is wrong when members of an industry are asking for more regulations on that industry.”

The bill in question, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 and S. 2159), was introduced in March 2014 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and would rewrite the 1961 Wire Act, instituting a de facto federal online gambling ban, says the report.

“Sponsors of this bill claim to defend states’ rights, and criticize the federal government when it tries to regulate marriage, education or health care,” said Minton, “but when it comes to Internet gambling, they are the ones imposing their personal values on Americans.”

Facts & Figures:

  • Three states have legalized online gambling – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – while a number of other states are considering legislation. These decisions would be undermined by the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.
  • When the Department of Justice cracked down on Internet poker sites in 2011, play continued by moving over to illegal, foreign-operated platforms, according to an American Gaming Association study.
  • Opponents of online gambling often assert that legalizing the activity will result in an increase in “problem gambling,” but there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, for nearly two decades, Americans anywhere in the country have been able to access online gambling, in addition to casino and lottery gambling, day or night; but the rate of problem gambling in the United States has remained stable for the last 30 years.

Read the full report: “Republicans’ Bad Bet

Read more on online gambling from Michelle Minton at CEI’s blog,