• Legal Sports Betting?

      That’s what Bill O’Reilly wants to talk about tonight.  His producer e-mailed me these questions:

      1.  Should it be legalized?

      2.  Should there be more casinos?

      3.  Is it a legit way for the government to raise more tax revenue?

      Maybe Bill plans to ask President Obama about it when he interviews him at the Super bowl game.

      My answers:

      1.  Yes.

      2.  There should be freedom. Only the market "knows" if there should be more casinos.

      3.  I suppose, but the last thing government needs is more revenue. I don't WANT government to get bigger, even at the expense of people dumb enough to gamble. Just get the government out of it. Let people gamble if they want to.

      In the U.S., the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prohibits credit card companies and banks from financing online gambling activities.  Gamblers have found ways around the law – third-party wire transfers, off-shore accounts, escrow services... I can’t imagine how much money America has lost because of this dumb law.  There are now 2,500 non-US online gaming sites.

      Currently, betting on sports is legal only in a few places in the USA.  A special Federal law banning it passed in 1991  (exceptions were made for Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana, which allowed some sports betting at the time and were grandfathered in.  Today, Delaware and Oregon no longer allow it.  Montana limits it.)

      Last Tuesday, New Jersey’s Legislature passed a bill to legalize online gambling.   New Jersey has filed suit against the Federal Government. As State Senator Ray Lesniak put it: "To allow betting in Nevada and three other states is discrimination against the rest of the states.” Good luck to New Jersey. Allowing consenting adults to bet is part of freedom.

      Yet half of the states ban “social gambling,” i.e. a game between friends. That’s nuts. I bet on every football game every weekend (I bet with a friend so I don’t pay a bookie’s 5%).  More Americans (est. 50M) play poker – more than those who play golf or tennis. Okay, gambling hurts some people.  But if we ban things because some people are hurt, why don’t we ban alcohol? Smoking? Fatty foods? Sex? The stock market?

      Focus on the Family complains gambling is the “art and science of deception.” So what?  So is filmmaking.  Poker is a game – deception/bluffing is part of the skill.

      Finally, politicians who ban betting are hypocrites, since 43 states run lotteries. State lotteries are the worst form of gambling.  They prey on poor people and give horrible odds.  States take as much as 50% of the money. Yet the states ADVERTISE their scam: “Add millions to your jackpot!” And, “Now get out there and play!” Disgusting.

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