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Deal or No Deal? Congress Considers Legalizing & Taxing Online Gambling. July 29, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Law, Ethics & Society, sports.
Tags: , ,

The tension between morality and the law is ever-present when gambling is on the table.  Four years ago Congress deemed Internet gambling to be a criminal activity.  The law does not seem to have  impacted the popularity of gambling, but did move the sponsors offshore. “On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would effectively legalize online poker and other nonsports betting…”  (NYTimes article linked)

Gambling is characterized as immoral and undesirable as well as fun and harmless depending upon one’s point of view.  Clearly, in 2006 Congress decided that online gambling was on the undesirable end of the spectrum and banned it in an effort to take the “right” action to protect society. 

So, why the change of hearts?   Money—Tax Dollars— a projected 42 billion dollars over ten years that could be used for all types of projects.   Some members of Congress  have essentially stated that the ends justify the means–It’s a lot of tax revenue that could be put to good use.  Others are outraged at the thought of infecting society with easy access to gambling.

It should be an interesting debate because as a society we struggle in deciding whether to acknowledge and accept various controversial conduct (and tax it accordingly). The conduct generally is wide-spread; the issue is whether we condone or condemn it.   It harkens back to the times that we actually used amendments to the U.S. Constitution to both prohibit alcohol and then repeal prohibition (and tax alcohol).   The legalization of marijuana is often debated in the same manner as  folks in California have recently considered whether to legalize and tax marijuana to alleviate the state budget deficit.

So, the question is does every issue have “its price?”  At some point does the societal equation tip in favor of tolerating controversial, but popular, behavior when the sum of the  financial reward is great?  Deal or No Deal?  Let’s watch and see….



1. Ruth - July 30, 2010

I say “Deal”! I live in a state that is going bankrupt. Why not collect taxes on whatever nefarious activity is going on, and will continue to go on, anyway.

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