Will Internet Sports Gambling Save The Economy?

Remember, if you will, the halcyon days of 2005. The market was fine, houses were worth more than 17 cents, and gambling online was still easily possible, if still shady. In 2006, the government slapped gambling websites with a cold, dead trout across the face, unleashing the UIGEA (or Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act) that made all aspects of gambling online, including the payment systems, illegal. Shortly thereafter, the economy went into the crapper. We think this is no mere coincidence.

Barney Frank
(Internet gamblers’ new hero in Washington?)

But now as Congress tries to figure out how the hell to fix the economy (why we’re leaving that task to a few hundred professional campaigners, who the hell knows), one idea seems to have gained traction: legalizing online gambling and taxing the bejesus out of it. THE SPORTS BIZ BLOG mentions some boilerplate nonsense from Rep. Barney Frank, the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee (remember him?) about impinging on freedoms or whatever, then gets down to the real reason behind the move: UNHOLY AMOUNTS OF TAX MONEY.

Strengthening the case for passage of UIEGA’s [sic] repeal is a recent study conducted by the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which estimated that the United States could likely receive up to $52 billion in tax revenue over a ten year period by legalizing and regulating online gaming. Given the current state of the federal government’s finances, that extra revenue may be hard to pass up.

We know the federal government. It is a dim-witted creature of habit. And when it comes to taking in an extra $52 billion, that opportunity is not “maybe hard to pass up.” It is TOTALLY DAMN IMPOSSIBLE to pass up. Expect this bill to pass as fireworks are shot off inside the Capitol, which isn’t even safe.

Now, there’s some natural opposition toward legalization here, not the least of which is the NCAA. The N-C-double-A-holes are probably mortified at the notion of actually strengthening the financial clout of gambling, which makes student-athletes all the more susceptible to point-shaving schemes.  But perhaps putting the system under federal regulation would root out these schemes more easily; Vegas can already identify betting irregularities, so the ability is there.

We’re not holding out much hope for this to pass in the next 3 weeks, but if it happens before next March, look out; the world’s largest March Madness pool would be f*cking EPIC.