Radley Balko’s testimony before Congress

Thanks to Wil for pointing this out. Radley Balko made an excellent presentation to Congress regarding online gambling. Below are some of my favorite quotes.

No one is hurt when two or more consenting adults sit down for a game of poker, be it online or in person. Why any of this should be of concern to the federal government is rather perplexing. I respect the fact that many Americans—and many members of Congress—may have moral objections to gambling, online or otherwise. To them, I’d say, simply, “don’t gamble, then.”

Yes, it’s possible a parent could bet away their family’s savings, or their child’s education fund in an online poker game. They could also fritter that money away on eBay. Or on booze. Or fancy cars and exotic travel.

These are all personal decisions, of course. And if a free society means anything, it means we should have the freedom to make bad choices, in addition to good ones. The ban on Internet gambling punishes the millions of Americans who were wagering online responsibly due to anecdotal evidence of a few who may do so irresponsibly. It’s an affront to personal responsibility, and symptomatic of a Nanny Statist government that treats its citizens like children. A government based on the principle of liberty doesn’t police the personal lives of its citizens for bad habits, at any level, much less at the federal level.

Supporters of a ban on Internet gambling say the industry is unregulated, that money wagered and lost leaves the United States, and that all of these offshore gaming sites are ripe for money laundering and similar criminal enterprises.

But these are all problems wrought not by consenting adults’ decision to gamble, but by the government’s decision to prohibit gambling.

Were Congress to give its blessing to legalized online gambling, I’d suggest you’d soon see brand names like Harrah’s, MGM, and Trump immediately enter the market.

Reputable offshore brands like FullTilt poker and PartyPoker would almost certainly incorporate in the U.S. and subject themselves to U.S. market regulation and government oversight.


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