Turning a blind eye is costing our kids
By Eric Wooten
Everyday, millions of responsible Americans sit down, log on and break the law.
Despite being banned by federal law, online poker is an immensely popular American pastime that shows no signs of waning. It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans play internet poker with some regularity.
Our country’s schizophrenic approach to online gaming has created a virtual Wild West boomtown, where a handful of crooks and thieves can easily hide among the many reputable gambling establishments.
Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) is carrying legislation that would heavily regulate and tax online gaming. But most importantly, his legislation would provide vital safeguards to prevent underage gambling and help those with self-destructive gambling habits.
With these regulations, each and every bet made online could be tracked and analyzed. That means federal authorities could shutdown online establishments catering to minors with a flick of a switch.
If you really want to stop stores from illegally selling cigarettes to kids, require the store owners to produce a valid name, address and credit card number for every pack of cigarettes they sold. That’s the level of scrutiny online poker establishments will be forced to adhere to if this bill is made into law.
Properly regulating and taxing this vast underground economy would result in a minimum of $3 billion in additional federal tax revenue each year. During these tough economic times, we need every federal dollar we can get to offset the drastic cuts being made at the state level.
To put that $3 billion in perspective, that’s enough to hire nearly 45,000 new teachers nationwide. It’s also about 30 times more than California could expect to see from the shortsighted Tranquillion oil lease.
Several California Democratic Members of Congress will be crucial votes on this legislation. Let’s hope that Reps Brad Sherman, Maxine Waters, Joe Baca, Jackie Speier do the right thing and vote for it.
More money for schools and a safer online community for kids (and adults) – its time we brought this business above ground so that it can be exposed the bright daylight of strong oversight. Our kids depend on it.
Eric Wooten is a Democratic political consultant for Capitol Coast, father of two and has been known to play a hand or two of “analog” poker.