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Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is carrying water for casino-owning billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has announced he will be hosting a press conference tomorrow with former Rep. J.C. Watts (who is also a paid lobbyist for Adelson) and a handful of conservative organizations to push for his nationwide ban on states legalizing online gaming for their residents. Nearly 25 conservative and liberty-minded groups have come out in opposition to the Chaffetz bill. This afternoon, the American Conservative Union (ACU) blasted the groups that are selling out constitutional principles. ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider issued the following statement reminding social conservatives that support for the Constitution must take precedent over their opposition to gambling:
Social conservatives all understand that gambling harms some people. The only question for us is if the heavy hand of the Federal government should be brought to bear in this instance or whether the 10th Amendment to the Constitution should permit states to exercise their police authority.
It is deceitful to imply that any bill in Congress would or could ban online gambling. There are already many gambling opportunities which are legal and widely available, but left untouched by the Restoration of America's Wire Act. Fan Dual and Draft Kings are just two examples. Similarly, people have been legally allowed to bet on horse racing for many years, and that wouldn't change under this bill.
As strong supporters of the 10th Amendment, the American Conservative Union does not see the kind of broad-based harm to justify Federal intrusion into the rights of states to govern themselves. We must never forget that when we grow the power of the Federal government to limit people's freedoms, we also empower it to mandate other aspects of our lives. From the Little Sisters of the Poor to those who wish to feed the hungry in their communities, Americans are now required to violate their conscience precisely because we have failed to reign in the Federal behemoth.
Moreover, it does not make sense to allow some types of online betting while prohibiting others. It’s not Congress’ job to pick winners and losers. Using the Federal government to target certain competitors may be very good for the profits of some favored businesses, but it is by no means an appropriate way to set policy.
Those who are supporting the latest efforts to bring the Federal government into this arena ignore the inevitable results: gambling will continue online both domestically and on sites run by operators in the Caribbean, China, and Russia. The Web has become a place where many vices flourish but banning certain US companies from this space cedes market dominance to foreign countries and dubious sites.
Although we understand the substantial downsides to irresponsible gambling, it is not a proper use of the Federal government to preserve the profits and success of a single company’s business plan.
Conservatives recognize and understand that each state should set its own policies under the rights guaranteed by 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives trust the states to know what is right for each state. Furthermore, conservatives trust our fellow Americans to understand that all people should be treated equally under the law with favoritism toward none.
Schneider is spot on. The Tenth Amendment empowers states to make their own decisions. Conservatives and libertarians don't have to agree with those decisions but should respect them. They should also oppose any and all efforts to gut the Bill of Rights -- especially to please a crony businessman who just wants to eliminate one form of competition for his billion dollar empire.