Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Politico reports that the odds of getting Barney Frank’s bill to explicitly legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States passed are increasing because of the recent seizure of more than $30 million in poker players’ money by the U.S. Attorney’s office:

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee believes the recent seizure of millions of dollars in online poker receipts only strengthens his hand because it reminds voters and politicians how sweeping — and potentially unclear — the existing law is.

“It helps,” Frank said after the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York seized, or froze, $34 million in bank accounts belonging to 27,000 online poker players.

And the opposition is still making bad arguments:

Even his Republican counterpart, who led a charge last year to defeat legislation gutting the law, believes Frank is holding much better cards in the current Congress than he had in the last one.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle to stop it this time,” said Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus, the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee and a longtime gambling opponent who calls the pastime the nation’s “fastest-growing addiction.”

But the evidence does not support that claim. In fact, research shows that addiction to gambling has gone down while gambling on the internet has exploded in this country. And even at its highest levels, the rate of gambling disorders is below 1% of those who gamble.

Gambling addiction, while it is a serious problem for those individuals who suffer from it, is not even a minor societal problem much less a significant one. It is authoritarian madness to restrict gambling for 99.4% of the population that gambles responsibly and moderately on the grounds of protecting the .6% who cannot do so.