Ron Paul on Charlie Dent’s Losing Bet

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently penned the following op-ed for Pennlive on Representative Charlie Dent's efforts to attach an online gaming bill to the appropriations bill. Even if the omnibus spending bill that the House is working on this week does not contain Dent's internet ban, the battle is not over.

Dent could still attach this provision in the House-Senate conference on the spending bills or even Hurricane Harvey relief, so we must remain vigilant.

It is certainly outrageous that anyone would even think of exploiting a natural disaster to sneak an unconstitutional power grab into law, and doing so would be yet another betrayal of the promises that this Congress would have a fair and open process and would protect our liberties.

You can read Congressman Paul's op-ed here and below:


I have bad news for taxpayers: Congress is about to return from August recess and begin working on Appropriations bills. This is bad news because there is a 100 percent chance those bills will increase spending and debt.

The spending bills, or bill if Congress once again combines all the appropriations into a single Omnibus, will no doubt also be full of "riders" expanding government and giving special favors to powerful special interests.

For example, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th District, is trying to add a rider to legislation funding the Justice Department making online gambling a federal crime.

It is bad enough that Dent, of Allentown, wants to sneak an expansion of federal power into a massive spending bill.

But his proposed ban on online gambling violates the principles of federalism and threatens the constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of whether they gamble online.

Three states, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, have legalized online gaming. Dent's amendment would nullify these state laws, as well as cut off debate in the several states considering legalizing online gaming.

One of those states currently debating legalizing online gambling is Pennsylvania.

It is odd for Dent to usurp state authority in this way, especially since a poll by the Bravo Group, a Harrisburg public affairs firm, shows that more than two-thirds of Keystone State residents support legalizing online gaming.

Some proponents of a federal ban on online gambling claim the federal government must act because legal online casinos make it easy for citizens in states to restrictive gambling laws to violate those laws.

This argument ignores the existence of technology capable of ensuring that only those legally allowed to do so can gamble online. Supporters of the Dent amendment should ask themselves who is likely to use this technology - an online casino controlled by criminals or an online casino operating in accordance with state law?

More importantly, this argument turns federalism on its head. The 10th Amendment was intended to act as a shield protecting the states and the people from federal overreach, not as a sword justifying expansion of federal power.

Criminalizing online gaming could also set a dangerous precedent that could be used to attack other rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.

A national law criminalizing online gaming gives the surveillance state one more excuse to violate our privacy.

Given what we have learned in recent years about how the snoop state takes advantage of any loophole to expand their powers, is it unreasonable to imagine that anyone who's name shows up in the context of an online gambler will become a target of surveillance?

The fact that supporters of the online gaming ban are trying to sneak it onto an appropriations bill suggests that they know that the arguments for banning online gaming cannot stand up to public scurrility. Otherwise, they would work to have their bill considered under regular order with a full and fair debate.

Sneaking this bill onto the Appropriations bill is exactly the type of political " trick play" that has made so many Americans disgusted with Congress. This is especially so given that it is an open secret that much of the support for this bill comes from one billionaire caisson owner who is also one of the country's largest political donors. No wonder a federal ban on online gaming is opposed by political figures from across the political spectrum, from libertarians like myself to progressives like Barney Frank.

A federal ban on online gambling tramples on the 10th amendment and is a slap in the face to the Pennsylvania state legislature and the people of Pennsylvania. It also exposes all Americans to new abuse of their online privacy by government agents.

Dent should drop his efforts to ban online gambling and instead concentrate on using his Appropriations Committee to reduce spending and debt.


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