Conservatives have condemned lame-duck efforts to pass a congressional bill that would legalize online gambling.
In the search for untapped revenue streams, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and other lame-duck Democrats have been working on legislation that would allow for cyber casinos in order to tax what could potentially be tens of billions of dollars in revenue.
Frank, a gaming proponent, chairs the House Financial Service Committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is pushing the bill. The legislation is an amendment in the tax relief extension bill awaiting a vote.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is urging Christians to contact their congressmen to block the amendment.
"Legalizing online gambling is a losing wager for American families," Land wrote in an action alert emailed to ERLC subscribers.
Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 to make it illegal for players to wager monetary bets online. The same bill also prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to an online gambling business.
Land said the gambling amendment would cripple the act while turning computers, iPhones and cell phones into 24-hour casinos.
John Kindt, University of Illinois Business Professor and author of the U.S. International Gambling Report Series, also maintains that allowing online gaming will hurt society.
"Legalizing online gambling is basically creating a huge social problem where none existed before," Kindt said.
According Kindt, gambling increases bankruptcies as well as crime. At the same time, food and clothing purchases drop, he noted.
"The ability to put a gambling or casino app on a smart phone would be a recipe for economic disaster," Kindt said, according to RedOrbit.com. "That would truly be a killer app, because the number of personal bankruptcies and people addicted to gambling would just absolutely soar. If we want to reduce our deficit, we need economic recovery, which means we need people buying goods and services. That's not going to happen if people are dumping their money into online gambling apps."
He added, "All of these social consequences create huge demands on states and municipalities. In particular, social services and law enforcement really suffer."
Conservatives are urging civil engagement via phone calls and emails to halt the amendment.
Land stressed, "Point-and-click gambling is a prescription for economic ruin and broken families. It is one more economic policy America cannot afford."