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A National Ban on Internet Gambling: Crony Capitalism at Work

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/11/2015 Bruce Fein
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Crony capitalism is epidemic.
Federal regulation is chronically the carrier of the disease.
A current example is the gold-plated endeavor fueled by family unfriendly casino magnates like Sheldon Adelson for a national prohibition of internet gambling under the counterfeit banner of morality.
Shakespeare would have written, "Hypocrisy, thy name is the Restoration of America's Wire Act!" (RAWA).
Gambling is more a venial than venal sin.
It escapes Dante's nine circles of hell, which include lust, gluttony, and greed--all of which flourish freely under federal law.
Neither Moses nor Jesus sermonized against gambling. It does not offend the Ten Commandments.
On the scale of social utility, gambling ranks at least as high as the annual $250 billion fashion industry calculated to gratify narcissism and promote lust. Finding amusement in internet gambling is no less worthy of protection as a feature of personal liberty as is squandering fabulous sums on jewelry or tens of thousands of dollars on designer dresses.
Making allowance for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the Constitution wisely withheld from Congress the mission of setting moral norms. Think, for example, of the standards of morality set by former House Speakers Newt Gingrich, Robert Livingston, and Dennis Hastert, former House Members Anthony Weiner, Mark Foley, and Trey Radel, and Senator David Vitter. And they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Prohibition required a constitutional amendment. But it was repealed as a dismal failure. It made smugglers and bootleggers rich.
Federal law endorses various forms of gambling, such as horse racing, bingo games, or state lotteries. And Nevada enjoys special exceptions. Accordingly, a congressional ban on interstate gambling would be like the "Never on Sunday" prissiness of a strumpet.
There is a role for uniform federal rules in matters that concern fundamental rights of citizenship or equality, for example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or the National Labor Relations Act. But RAWA is well outside that universe. It is a vestige of Blue laws and schoolmarm-like government in which the great fear is that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying himself.
Despite these considerations, the abject failure of Prohibition, and the futility of Savonarola's bonfire of the vanities, Congress is flirting with making internet gambling a federal offense and diverting the scarce resources of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from thwarting international terrorism to snaring internet users betting on the outcome of the next presidential election, the World Series or otherwise. This would return the FBI back to the bad old days when J. Edgar Hoover devoted more attention to interstate auto theft than to organized crime.
I have worked in and out of all three branches of the federal government for nearly fifty years. I have walked in front of the White House to and from work on thousands of occasions. There, every type of both conceivable and inconceivable protests is commonplace. But I have yet to hear or see a single person urging the federal government to snuff out gambling--even the Amish.
So what explains the congressional interest?
You guessed it.
Crony capitalism featuring casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson.
He has contributed more than $100 million to Republican candidates and related organizations.
Chief sponsors of RAWA include Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Senator Graham has received handsome campaign contributions from Adelson. In early October, Senator Rubio, a candidate in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes, held a meeting in Adelson's offices at the Venetian Las Vegas, to curry his support.
Mimicking the role of the Music Man worrying about vice in River City, Adelson has asserted to Politico, "When I started to imagine what would happen with legalized Internet gaming, it scared the heck out of me ... because of what's it's going to do to our society [i.e, his bank account]. ... I'm concerned about college students. They are of age, and I'm concerned about poor people who really can't afford to do it, that we're putting all these temptations smack on their kitchen table."
But does Adelson think we don't' know that even the devil can quote scripture?
RAWA should die an unmourned death.
The FBI has better things to do than to chase down internet gamblers.

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