Baptist chief rails against online gambling

Baptist chief rails against online gambling

The heat is rising over the apparently imminent launch of Congressman Barney Frank's bill seeking to legalise and regulate online gambling in the United States. This week Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land called on Frank's House Financial Services Committee to oppose a bill he claims will undermine current (UIGEA) restrictions on Internet gambling and significantly harm America's youth, families, and communities.

Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), expressed his concerns to the 71 members of the committee.

Frank has already indicated his intention to seek committee approval for his Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, H.R. 2267, which already has 66 co-sponsors across both Republcan and Democrat parties.

In his letter to committee members, Land noted that his ERLC is particularly disturbed that the Frank proposal would:

(1) release license recipients from state and federal control by granting "complete defense against any prosecution";

(2) grant authority to the Treasury Department to regulate gambling and thereby remove this power from the states, where it traditionally has rested; and

(3) transfer the ability to criminalize online wagering from a state's citizens to its governor, who can effectively reverse anti-gambling laws by deciding not to withdraw from legalized Internet wagering as regulated by the Treasury Department.

The measure also "would serve the financial interest of gambling firms and complicate U.S. trade commitments," Land wrote.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the major professional sports leagues for baseball, basketball, football and hockey expressed their opposition to Frank's bill in a joint letter to the members of the Financial Services Committee last year.