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California Investigates Legalizing Online Gambling
In California, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine has successfully navigated his bill to study the legalization of online gambling through one committee and brought it to within one step of a vote in the legislature. Levin's bill, the Gambling Control/California Intrastate Online Poker Act, was unanimously passed Wednesday by the Committee on Governmental Organization, sending the proposal to the state Appropriations Committee.
Levin's purpose is to determine whether the dreaded UIGEA law passed by the U.S. Congress binds states, or whether states may individually pass their own laws legalizing and regulating online casinos and gambling.
Levin feels that the UIGEA allows for legalized online gambling as long as both the operator and player are located within the state. Only interstate online play is ruled out, by Levin's interpretation.
If the bill is passed and an investigation finds that the murky and confusing language of the UIGEA does indeed permit intrastate play, California is likely to authorize and tax legal online casinos. Other states may soon follow suit, at least permitting poker play in some states and possibly full-fledged online casino play in others.
Of course, having to determine what is permitted the states is a Constitutional argument that goes back to the framing of the document. Patrick Henry famously refused to sign the Constitution once the Bill of Rights was added, saying a list of what the federal government could not do was not necessary; anything not expressly granted in the Constitution was automatically forbidden to the national government.
Once specific rights were included in the first ten Amendments, it became debatable that rights not listed may be legally infringed. Patrick Henry may have been right; let's hope Levin is successful in this measure of returning some small freedom from our overbearing federal system.
Published on April 18, 2008 by Tom Weston
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