As we should all know by now, any potential moral qualm, whether minor or major, is roughly infinitely worse if you add these magical little words to it: “on the internet.” Oh yes, people, don’t you dare be confused. Prostitution, drug-dealing, and ghost stories are all bad, but if they’re on the internet then we must all wage sanctimonious political jihad against them. Left out of the above examples is internet gambling, the process by which people who probably can’t afford to lose their money hand it over to other people in games of chance in which the odds are stacked firmly against the former. But, while most (all?) states in our glorious union operate a lottery, and many others are home to horse/dog tracks, OTBs, and some flavor of casinos, online gambling is treated as the stuff of nightmares. This has resulted in misguided applications of legislation to shut down internet sports and poker gambling sites, all dressed up as an effort to create a more moral nation, when it’s really all the result of heavy lobbying by terrestrial casinos.
Somehow, the DOJ’s crusade against gambling sites had reached a lull as of late. A couple of folks in Congress aim to change that with a sternly-worded letter to Eric Holder.
“We must act before we find virtual casinos making gambling pervasive in our society, invading living rooms, bedrooms, and dorm rooms across the country; a result we know the DOJ does not want to see,” the letter said. The letter was signed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who earlier this year introduced a bill that would overturn a 2011 DOJ opinion that opened the door to online gambling.
Thank goodness for the nanny state, here to save us from doing…well…stuff we want to do. I love the entire concept behind this now-publicized letter to the DOJ, which essentially says: “The common people are lowly animals and if you let them gamble with their money, instead of doing the sensible thing and gamble invest it in Wall Street, the moral fabric we have woven for these plebes will unravel like it was a Weezer song.” Here’s my counter-argument: go to hell, Congress. A government this bad at spending the money they take from me probably shouldn’t be waxing on about how I spend what they graciously allow me to keep. Lindsay Graham in particular simply doesn’t get to make this argument, given his love of shilling for land casinos on a manufactured moral wave.
In March, Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced a bill — backed by GOP megadonor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — to restore the pre-2011 DOJ interpretation of the Wire Act. In their letter this week, the senators wanted [sic] that the 2011 ruling if “left on its own, … could usher in the most fundamental change in gambling in our lifetimes by turning every smart phone, tablet, and personal computer in our country into a casino available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Right! Those people should instead by driving to Sheldon Adelson’s casinos to do all that same gambling that gives these congressmen the heebie-jeebies. That’s the thing about trying to use morality as a basis for legislation: you had damned well better be consistent or you end up looking like a freedom-jacking bag of lies. All the more so when you’re talking about telling the American people how they’re allowed to spend their money.