As everyone who reads this blog knows by now, I am both strongly libertarian on matters of individual freedom and strongly pro-gambling (though I only consider poker to be partially a gamble). Well here’s an opportunity to support both of those views. Before the Congress right now there is a bill called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act (H. 21 in the house and S. 627 in the Senate). It’s a bill that is so ill-conceived that even without any consideration for individual rights at all, it would still be monumentally stupid.
This bill, which would require every U.S. business that handles money – banks, credit card companies, Western Union, money order companies – to search out and block any transaction that might be related to online gambling, passed the house by a wide margin last year, but the Senate didn’t have time to take up the bill. It has been reintroduced this year and is expected to come up for a vote following the August recess. The House will almost certainly pass the bill again, but the Senate is up for grabs and it is important to stop this bill. As the Interactive Gaming Council put it:
Tell the people that represent you in Washington that you are an adult, and can make decisions for yourself! Wagering is a personal decision, and millions of Americans do it harmlessly; in fact the largest processor of wagers are state lotteries, sponsored by the state governments themselves.
Tell your Representative and Senators that you don’t want your financial institution sifting through your transactions trying to “sniff out’ which ones might be Internet gaming! It is unprecedented for the government to “deputize” private corporations and make them violate individuals’ privacy the way the Leach bill seeks to.
Strictly speaking, it’s not unprecedented for the government to deputize banks to sniff out illegal transactions. But is it warranted in this case? Absolutely not. It’s a violation of our freedom as adults to do what we want to do with our money.
You can sign a petition to stop this bill here. I urge you all to do so.