Today's House Financial Services Committee hearings into the possible legalisation of online gambling will hear testimony from an impressive and in some cases self-interested list of speakers that includes:
* Robert Martin, Tribal Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, who is agin' legalisation, claiming that it will do nothing but legalise off-shore gaming at the expense of American jobs and leave tribes at a competitive disadvantage. He feels that the status quo allows individual states to decide what course to adopt. Ironically, Martin's Marongo Band tried unsuccessfully to bring about an exclusive online poker legalisation bill in California earlier this year.
* Ms. Parry Aftab, Executive Director of Internet safety and help group WiredSafety, takes a more positive view in support of legalisation rather than prohibition, arguing that the former will offer more protection to consumers, problem gamblers and the underaged, and that disrupting financial transactions is not effective.
* Youbet.com's Executive Chairman, Michael Brodsky, who's firm is in the throes of a merge with Churchill Downs racecourse group, is believed to support legalisation. His objection to prohibition is that it is unworkable and intrudes on the private pastime of large numbers of law-abiding and decent American players.
It is understood that the following will speak for legalisation, too:
* Professor Malcolm K Sparrow of John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
* Keith S Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
* Jim Dowling of Dowling Advisory Group.
* Samuel A Vallandingham, CIO and VP of the First State Bank on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Representative Spencer Bachus, a Republican politician from Alabama and a long-time opponent of online gambling legalisation, is expected to speak for prohibition.
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