|Post September 11, there wonít be too many US citizens thanking me for making a comparison between Islamic countries and the US. But if you check the news today, youíll find Islamic fundamentalist parties calling down the wrath of God on the Jordanian government for even countenancing licenced casinos Ė even if only for use by foreigners. |
But the US, despite the expansion of gambling over the past ten years, is still the home of the moral panic and the self-styled guardians of public morality when it comes to gambling. But is it all about morality, or is there more to the politicking of the anti-gambling lobby?
Representative James Leach (Iowa-R.) has fought a vain battle for years to push his 'Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act' through Congress. The bill would make it a crime to transfer funds electronically, as with a credit card, in connection with any 'illegal' Internet gambling.
According to Professor I. Nelson Rose, an expert in the legal aspects of gambling, this proposal was sneaked into the recent anti-terrorist bill, equating Internet gambling with the threat of terror. And according to Rose, the way Leach went about doing this was not entirely above board.
According to the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. Congress, 'The FBI currently has two pending cases involving Internet gambling as a conduit for money laundering, as well as a number of pending cases linking Internet gambling to organized crime.' But when you consider the billions of Internet gambling transactions, is that really indicative of a threat to national security?
In completely unrelated hearings, the CIA has shown that Islamic extremists have used money laundering to help fund their terrorists attacks.
Senator Leach didnít need much encouragement to lump the two concerns together, conjuring up the spectre of Muslim terrorists using online gambling to launder money. According to Leach, Internet casinos present 'the greatest potential for money laundering that exists in the world.'
The FBI and CIA say there is no evidence for the above, but still the anti-terrorist bill was rushed through Congress without the usual hearings and scrutiny. Leach succeeded in inserting the following language into the House version of anti-terrorist bill: 'No person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling,' financial instruments such as checks, credit cards or electronic fund transfers.
Luckily, the U.S. Senate didnít buy it: By a vote of 96 to 1, the Senate approved an anti-terrorist bill which said nothing about online gambling. As White House spokesman Jimmy Orr put it, 'The goal was to get a clean bill which focused on the issues at hand passed as soon as possible.'
Leach wasnít happy, condemning the entire House of Representatives for agreeing with the Senate to delete the anti-gambling provisions: 'I consider this to be an affront to the committee, and I also consider this to be an assault on basic judgment. I hoped there would be greater courage and greater will in this body on the issue of Internet gambling.'
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) added his two cents worth, calling the deletions ' an indictment of this institution,' adding: 'Gambling is beginning to destroy and fundamentally corrupt this country. It is bringing about greater divorce, greater corruption and now we see the influence of it coming into this chamber.'
With politicians like Leach and Wolf, who needs Islamic fundamentalists?