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Fear and Money In Gambling Regulation

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz would override state rights to govern online gambling for the sake of a few campaign dollars.

(AP Photo/Pat Roque)

Fear and money are the driving force of politics and Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz believe they have found an issue that combines the best of both worlds.

Graham and Chaffetz have introduced legislation that would overturn the decisions of a number of states, like New Jersey, to legalize online gambling for citizens in their states using fear as a motivating tactic and money to support their efforts. 

FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2013, file photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Graham threatened Monday, Oct. 28, to hold up all nominations for federal government positions until survivors of last year's deadly attack on the diplomatic post in Libya appear before Congress. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) 

Fear

Upon introduction of the legislation both Graham and Chaffetz made the argument that states exercising their rights to legalize Internet gambling within their own borders would create a flood of gambling that could not be stopped.

Chaftez said “To have gaming on every smartphone on the country, I just think it’s a bad idea." Graham echoed the argument saying "virtually any cell phone or computer can again become a video poker machine. It's simply not right."

Apparently Chaftez and Graham have never heard of Google.

From any smartphone, tablet or computer today, you can access a website from which you can gamble just by typing in a few words into the search engine. Bovada.lv; Pokerstars, Betonline and dozens of other sites are all accessible today -- and will be tomorrow even if the Graham/Chaffetz bill becomes law because these sites are housed in other countries. To suggest that the legislation is needed to protect you from online gaming is misleading and facetious to say the least.

Money

Sheldon Aldeson is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is the head of the Sand Casino Empire and he views online gaming as a threat to his business model. After giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican and pro-Israel causes, Adelson has bought goodwill from many members of Congress.

(AP Photo/Pat Roque) (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

Graham knows that Adelson gave groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads project tens of millions of dollars. Graham needs that kind of support to defeat Tea Party primary opponents. It isn’t very difficult to understand how Graham so rapidly moved from silent on Adelson’s pet issue to being the bill’s main author. There is little doubt that he hopes that money will rain into South Carolina to support his candidacy.

With fear and money driving the train, these members are clearly willing to trample on deeply held beliefs of federalism in order to provide financial assistance to a political benefactor.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz announces that he will not run for U.S. Senate, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, during a news conference at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, ending a statewide effort that has been building for months and possibly disappointing tea party advocates who saw him as their best shot for knocking off another GOP senator. (AP Photo/Lynn DeBruin) U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz. (AP Photo/Lynn DeBruin)

Since President Barack Obama assumed office, Republicans have railed against an oppressive and fast-growing federal government. They have also spoken out against outrageous examples of crony capitalism like Solyndra and other green energy projects. But now that a GOP donor is requesting support, those issues are taking a back seat to principle.

States should not need the federal government’s to expand gun rights or even legalize marijuana. Yet, Graham and Chaffetz are setting a dangerous precedent solely to support a political contributor.

If legal online gaming is threatening land-based casino's that is an example of the free market at work. The last thing Congress should do is to turn their back on constitutional principles and open the door for even more federal control of state affairs to help a donor extract more profits from his customers. Yet that is exactly what Chaftez and Graham are trying to accomplish.

Edward Woodson is the host of “The Edward Woodson Show,” which airs weekdays 7-8 a.m. on WZAB Miami and in Phoenix, Ariz., on KFNX News-Talk Radio 1100 Live 5-6 a.m. MT.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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