Governor Rick Perry of Texas wrote an editorial opposing online gambling for all 50 states. His column went all over the place and showed a complete lack of understanding of the issue.
Gov. Perry touches on the usual arguments of families and the ignorance of claiming terrorists will somehow get rich off legalized online gambling, something regulation would clearly prevent. His new complaint is that online poker will create “formal government oversight and enforcement of a specified class of Internet content”.
The expansion of Internet gambling will result in the expansion of government and raise more questions about the government presence in our daily lives.
According to Gov. Perry, banning a leisure activity that is enjoyed in one’s home is not an intrusion into people’s lives, but regulating it is.
Gov. Perry seems to be missing a big point. Online poker players don’t really want an Office of Internet Poker. They simply want to play. Creating government agencies to regulate the activity is a compromise. Players would rather just have the international player pool back without any government interference.
He then goes on to bash several topics often hated by his party and manages to tie them into online poker:
We already know the government has tracked our political activities, monitored our phone calls, and will soon have access to our most personal medical information. Once the government starts actively monitoring one aspect of our Internet commerce, is it credible to believe that it will stop there?
These are some jabs at the IRS, NSA and the Affordable Healthcare Act, all targets of the Republican Party. It seems apparent that Gov. Perry does not believe that the NSA or any other agency is currently monitoring Internet commerce. Widespread reports about the NSA state that the security agency has gained access to email servers and secure sites to obtain information on individuals. Since most sites try to sell a product or service, presumably, this type of monitoring already occurs. Gov. Perry would seem to be familiar with this situation since he called Edward Snowden a “criminal”.
Legalizing Internet gambling would expand this heavy regulation to the Internet and create a new breed of government Internet-content cops.
Like the “government Internet-content cops” that are trying to force an existing, regulated industry out of business in three states? It would seem Gov. Perry would rather have illegal sites operating in the market without any regulation at all.
Fifty states with 50 different laws regulating the Internet would put up digital roadblocks at every state border, putting a huge burden on commerce.
Since Texas does not seem to want online gambling, it should not care at all what other states are doing on the subject. A partnership between Delaware and Nevada does not change the fact that Texans still have the right to opt out. Texas could still allow intrastate poker, too. It would have even more rights as it could choose to join Delaware and Nevada or any other interstate pool of players. If anything, other states offering online poker expand the rights of Texans, even if those rights are not exercised.
Let’s look at it another way. What if the FAA didn’t exist and there were 50 different sets of aircraft regulations?
This is apples and oranges. If planes only flew within a state’s border then it would not need the federal government. Also, using Gov. Perry’s previous logic about creating more federal agencies being terrible for freedom, we should not have planes flying across state lines because the FAA can track all planes and airline customers. This includes making sure that all fliers are not a security risk.
Under this logic, it would be better to just not have airplanes at all since flying creates a government agency that spies on us in the name of safety. Of course, one can avoid the scrutiny of the federal government by not flying, just as one can avoid a background check by an online poker site by not playing. That is called freedom of choice, something that seems lost on Gov. Perry.
The next point made is that state-by-state regulations would smother growth. That is why a federal solution may be the answer. He is against that, too. Gov. Perry has no solution other than banning legal online gambling and allowing offshore sites to operate without regulated competition. That may not be his intention, but that will be the result.
Gov. Perry just needs to come out and say he is against all gambling. He needs to stop trying to justify his opinion with absurd reasons why online poker will not work at both a state and federal level. All of this political pandering will look even worse if it comes out later that Sheldon Adelson is bankrolling his 2016 presidential campaign.
(Image credit: Wikipedia)