In their crusade to ban online gambling, Sheldon Adelson and his anti-online gambling group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), have picked up a powerful and influential ally in Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
In an excellent summary of the situation that can be found at USPokerSite.net, Jindal comes out not only against online gambling expansion in Louisiana, but also as an advocate for a federal ban of online gambling by overturning the recent change in the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, which now states that the wire act only applies to sport-betting, and not to intrastate online gambling.
This new stance by the DOJ paved the way for states to pass online gambling legislation –three did: New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware-- and now Adelson and his followers are pushing for that opinion to be overturned by Congress, whom they hope will pass a “Wire Act Fix” that would outlaw virtually all forms of online gambling.
Jindal, a bastion of social conservatism, came out against online gambling in an editorial he penned for BusinessInsider.com called Internet gambling a bad bet for American middle class, where his arguments echo of those of Adelson and his CSIG group.
Jindal’s Double Standard
As USPokerSite.net points out in this news story, Jindal is leaving out a major piece of information in his anti-online gambling remarks; the fact that Louisiana offers their residents a number of gambling options.
So it would seem that Governor Jindal isn’t against gambling per se; he is against one specific type of gambling; the type that occurs online.
If Jindal’s concern is the predatory nature of online gambling (his words not mine) how does he mesh that conclusion with the fact that his state offers video poker machines in bars, gas stations, and restaurants? This seems to be the very definition of predatory gambling.
Jindal’s Lack Of Research
Jindal’s editorial also makes the unfortunate mistake of echoing one of Sheldon Adelson’s key talking points:
“A powerful pressure campaign out of Washington led by special interests is leading the push to make casino gambling available 24/7 on cellphones and computers, with three states already authorizing it.”
What Jindal is failing to mention is that online gambling has been available, uninterrupted, in the United States since the 1990’s; just in an unregulated form. It is already available 24/7 on any cell phone or computer, whether you live in a state that has legalized and regulated it or not.
What Jindal and Adelson are essentially asking for is for the status quo: for online poker players in the US to continue playing on less restrictive unregulated offshore sites.
The difference between the regulating online gambling and passing an ineffective ban, is that the states that have passed online gambling bills are now offering their residents consumer protections and a regulated environment, not to mention hefty licensing fees and tax revenue coming directly from the online gaming sites –In two months New Jersey has pocketed over $2.5 million in tax revenue alone from the fledgling industry.
Louisiana Legislature Disagrees
Luckily for online gambling proponents it would seem that Louisiana’s legislature is not in lockstep with the Governor, as a survey conducted by GamblingCompliance.com that was cited in the USPokerSite.net article lists Louisiana as one of the 10 states most likely to consider online gambling expansion.
The Louisiana legislature commissioned a study on online gambling in March of 2013, led by Representative Mike Huval who feels, “Louisiana has the potential to benefit economically by legalizing Internet gaming.”
Additionally, there has already been grumblings in Louisiana that an online gambling bill will be introduced this year, after Louisiana Gaming Control Board chairman Ronnie Jones presented the regulatory body’s findings to the legislature, where Jones remarked of online gamblers in Louisiana, “They're playing anyway, but it's not regulated by the government, it's not sanctioned by the government or taxed by the state."
Of course, any bill passed by the legislature would have to also get by the desk of Bobby Jindal and his veto pen.