Progress in Nevada, California, Illinois, and New Jersey will continue nonetheless.

The Republicans’ 2012 “platform” is not exactly sophisticated. In theory, the platform should represent Party members’ general values. But really it is not possible to align every member on every issue, and few members are properly informed about all issues. So when communicating with the broad membership base, it is usually best to keep the message simple.

The Republicans’ 2012 platform addresses internet gambling, and the message is indeed simple:
We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.
Sadly, this position conflicts with economic realities. The fact is there is immense demand for internet gambling in America, and for 17 years the demand has been met solely by foreign operators. A multibillion-dollar foreign internet gambling industry thrives despite repeated attempts by Congress and the U.S. Justice Department to break it. The most infamous attempt, led by Republican Congressional leaders in 2006, has proven a severe failure and waste of administrative expenses. 


Ending the war on internet gambling 
Republicans’ 2012 platform proclaims that internet gambling must be prohibited in order to “make the internet family-friendly.” This falls under one of the platform’s simple themes: “renewing American values.” Republicans are correct to express moral concerns, but they should use more flexible rhetoric. Gambling obviously exerts very real social costs, but it is wrong to pretend that a uniform prohibition is the only policy option that could be family-friendly.
Keeping children away from internet gambling is no insurmountable challenge because even foreign operators require that customers have a bank account and proof of identity. It is absurd to think a child could dupe Caesar’s or MGM into opening a real money account. A more difficult problem is how to control the risks of problem gambling and addiction. The fear is that an individual sitting in his bedroom can develop a secret addiction and eventually blow away his family’s entire life savings. It happens often, actually. And sometimes the individual steals and embezzles in order to conceal or continue feeding the addiction. But this happens even now, with a prohibition in effect. 
Prohibition is not the right solution for managing the risks of behavior problems related to internet gambling. The right solution is regulatory control and education. Under a prohibition, foreign black market operators occupy all of the market, and they have no incentive to limit Americans’ rate of play. But under an American regulatory system, an operator could be made to comply with rules limiting how much time or money an individual can participate in internet gambling. Additional safeguards can ensure that the rules and probabilities of all games are made highly visible to customers. Going even further, a portion of tax revenue from internet gambling can be used to fund programs that help problem gamblers and otherwise educate the public about the risks of gambling.
And of course there is the issue of the economy. Because internet gambling operators are presently located overseas, America receives none of the benefits of this very real economic activity. This means no wagering or operating taxes are delivered to American government, and it means thousands of jobs are filled by workers overseas instead of at home in America.
The right thing to do is enact laws that will enable American gambling corporations to rescue the market from foreign operators. This will stimulate American gambling corporations to hire American workers to assist with internet gambling operations, and it will finally allow American government to collect tax revenue to offset the social costs of internet gambling. 

A grain of Salt Lake City 
In the grand scheme of things, internet gambling is just one of many issues where the Republicans’ message is out of tune with reality. These days, Republican leaders are increasingly criticized for putting out factual inaccuracies. It sometimes seems that dancing around issues is a campaign strategy. The Party’s presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has not revealed many actual action plans. He tends to line up opposite President Obama whenever possible, even when it means taking positions that contradict with actions he took in the past as governor of Massachusetts.
The point is that right now it is important for Romney and other Republicans to tell the broad electorate whatever they must to win election. Actual governing doesn’t come until later. But for now a certain class of voters wants to hear about God and Country when they flock to the Party’s circus of a convention.
And in the 50 states, progress will continue regardless of election year rhetoric. 
Nevada will not suddenly abandon its carefully laid regulatory plans now that it is weeks away from allowing licensees to become operational on an intrastate basis. Nor will lawmakers give up the debate in Illinois, now that their state has suffered a credit rating reduction because they failed to find revenue to pay for vast pension debt. And no way will American gambling corporations stop lobbying the federal and state governments for laws that will enable them to rescue the market from foreign operators.
Meanwhile, internet gambling is not exactly a focal point for Democrats either, but President Obama’s office has at least recognized some important complexities. In May the White House issued a statement on internet gambling in response to petitions for legalization received through a program called “We the People.” The White House says it is of the opinion that the 50 states have the power to make their own decisions about internet gambling regulation:
“…Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers…”



Author Bradley Vallerius is an Illinois attorney with a background specializing in business and legal communications for the internet gambling industry.