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Public Statements

Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


INTERNET GAMBLING PROHIBITION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this legislation. It is not easy to oppose this legislation because it is assumed that proponents of the bill are on the side of the moral high ground. But there is a higher moral high ground in the sense that protecting liberty is more important than passing a bill that regulates something on the Internet.

The Interstate Commerce Clause originally was intended to make sure there were no barriers between interstate trade. In this case, we are putting barriers up.

I want to make the point that prohibition, as a general principle, is a bad principle because it doesn't work. It doesn't solve the problem because it can't decrease the demand. As a matter of fact, the only thing it does is increase the price. And there are some people who see prohibitions as an enticement, and that it actually increases the demand.

But once you make something illegal, whether it is alcohol or whether it is cigarettes or whether it is gambling on the Internet, it doesn't disappear because of this increased demand. All that happens is, it is turned over to the criminal element. So you won't get rid of it.

Sometimes people say that this prohibition that is proposed is designed to protect other interests because we certainly aren't going to get rid of gambling, so we might get rid of one type of gambling, but actually enhance the other.

But one of the basic principles, a basic reason why I strongly oppose this is, I see this as a regulation of the Internet, which is a very, very dangerous precedent to set.

To start with, I can see some things that are much more dangerous than gambling. I happen to personally strongly oppose gambling. I think it is pretty stupid, to tell you the truth.

But what about political ideas? What about religious fanaticism? Are we going to get rid of those? I can think of 1,000 things worse coming from those bad ideas. But who will come down here and say, Just think of the evil of these bad ideas and distorted religions, and therefore we have to regulate the Internet?

H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, should be rejected by Congress since the Federal Government has no constitutional authority to ban or even discourage any form of gambling.

In addition to being unconstitutional, H.R. 4411 is likely to prove ineffective at ending Internet gambling. Instead, this bill will ensure that gambling is controlled by organized crime. History, from the failed experiment of prohibition to today's futile ``war on drugs,'' shows that the government cannot eliminate demand for something like Internet gambling simply by passing a law. Instead, H.R. 4411 will force those who wish to gamble over the Internet to patronize suppliers willing to flaunt the ban. In many cases, providers of services banned by the government will be members of criminal organizations. Even if organized crime does not operate Internet gambling enterprises their competitors are likely to be controlled by organized crime. After all, since the owners and patrons of Internet gambling cannot rely on the police and courts to enforce contracts and resolve other disputes, they will be forced to rely on members of organized crime to perform those functions. Thus, the profits of Internet gambling will flow into organized crime. Furthermore, outlawing an activity will raise the price vendors are able to charge consumers, thus increasing the profits flowing to organized crime from Internet gambling. It is bitterly ironic that a bill masquerading as an attack on crime will actually increase organized crime's ability to control and profit from Internet gambling.

In conclusion, H.R. 4411 violates the constitutional limits on Federal power. Furthermore, laws such as H.R. 4411 are ineffective in eliminating the demand for vices such as Internet gambling; instead, they ensure that these enterprises will be controlled by organized crime. Therefore I urge my colleagues to reject H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act.

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