Legislation would put Internet gaming under closer scrutiny

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An effort by Congress to tighten laws for gambling over theInternet is the right move and one we would hope the Senate willfollow. Mississippi’s four U.S. representatives unanimously votedwith the majority, which sends the bill to the Senate for itsconsideration.

The bill is an effort to curb Internet gambling, which has seenexponential growth in recent years. From the comfort of theirhomes, Web sites allow those who are so inclined to bypass thehustle and bustle of casinos and place their bets from their easychair.

The legislation passed last week would prohibit the use ofcredit card and other forms of electronic payment from being usedto settle Internet wagers. By updating current law, it wouldclarify the legalities of online betting and give law enforcementthe ability to work with Internet service providers to block accessto gambling Web sites from the U.S.

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Not that we are opposed to the gaming industry, but like that ofthe land-based casinos here in Mississippi, there should beoversight. Although Internet gambling is already illegal in theU.S., offshore companies have popped up who offer games of chancebut are not subject to U.S. law enforcement jurisdiction. Thesecompanies rake in billions of dollars – all unregulated andtax-free!

Here in Mississippi, those tax-free dollars should be a concernsince taxes on casinos are a growing part of our state budget andare helping to cover the cost of state government.

Regulation and tax issues aside, tightening the reins onInternet gambling also makes good public policy. No one can disputethat gambling can wreck lives and destroy families – the thrill ofan easy buck is too easy a vice for many people.

Those who want to gamble are going to do so and no amount oflegislation will cure the urge. However, legislation such as thatpassed last week will not make it so easy to roll the dice and willprovide a watchful eye on an industry that should be watchedclosely.