Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama Scuttles Ban on Internet Gambling

Every now and then, a federal court hand down a good decision, so let me tell you about one good decision -- and then I'll tell you how it was sabotaged. Internet gambling is a huge, billion-dollar business, and Congress passed a law to prohibit internet gambling in states that had already made internet gambling illegal. The gambling industry threw everything but the kitchen sink toward trying to defeat this bill, but Congress passed it anyway. Three cheers for Congress. Then the gambling industry sued to stop implementation of the law. The gambling industry argued that this law was unconstitutional because it was too vague, and that even the title of the law, "Unlawful internet gambling," was too vague. But that challenge was absurd, especially since the law affected only states where state law had already made internet gambling illegal.

Last September, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the federal law. Three cheers for the federal court. The court ruled that the phrase "unlawful internet gambling" is well-defined in the statute as follows: "To place, receive, or otherwise knowingly transmit a bet or wager by any means which involves the use . . . of the internet where such bet or wager . . . is unlawful under State law . . . in the State . . . [where] . . . the bet or wager is . . . made." The gambling industry also argued that the law violated the First Amendment. But the Court held that the law did not interfere with anybody's free-speech right "to express . . . views on internet gambling," and furthermore, financial transactions are not speech.

So the gamblers lost their case. But alas, that's not the end of the story. The Obama Administration then postponed implementation of the law until next June, giving time for the liberals in Congress to try to repeal the law.

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