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Former Head Of FBI Regulate Online Gambling Now!

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh and Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge penned an op-ed piece in last Friday’s Washington Examiner calling for a new federal internet gambling law. It’s not every day that one reads a Washington daily and finds the former head of the FBI supporting online gambling legislation.

Are Freeh and Ridge closet fans of William Hill? Are they betting on the next election?

-We all know that Internet gambling takes place in a borderless enterprise outside an already ambiguous policy arena that affects millions of Americans. Americans across the country can gamble on various games on the Internet such as cards, sports and games of chance.-

That’s the -it happens anyways, so let’s regulate, cough cough, tax it- argument.

-Individual states simply do not possess the necessary law enforcement tools to effectively police gambling in a borderless Internet.- This is the stronger argument. As it appears now, US online gambling will be re-instituted on a state by state basis – 50 states (plus a few territories) with 50 different sets of online gambling laws. At that rate, the lawyers will make more money than the casinos and jackpot winners!

Imagine Florida legalizing online gambling, but requiring that all gamblers must be from Florida. If each state does this, online casinos will be a crazy web of over-regulation. Freeh and Ridge are right to call for federal online gambling legislation.

Let’s hope that other wise men and women in Washington are listening to former FBI director Freeh and former Homeland Security secretary Ridge!

With a Congress that can barely agree that the sky is blue, it is hard to believe that Congress can come together on such a big issue. Beyond the online gambling aspect, there is a bigger debate that has been playing out for hundreds of years in the United States, and that is states’ rights.

If the federal government handles online gambling, does a state like Kentucky have a right to opt out? Even if one supports online gambling, shouldn’t a community (state) have the right to decide its own values and laws?

Perhaps the best way to do it is a compromise of federal and state legislation. As Freeh and Ridge suggest, the federal government can provide the legislative package and enforcement. But individual states should also be able to decide to opt out if they so choose. Online gambling should be legal, but should not be imposed either.

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