Rep. Jim McDermott's Human Resources Act of 2008 (H.R. 6501) launched earlier this week has already attracted opposition from Nevada politicians despite offering the opportunity for the state to garner up to $336 million in Internet gambling taxes in the future, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
McDermott quoted statistics from PricewaterhouseCoopers that suggest that his proposed legalization could raise up to $40 billion for U.S. states over the next decade, with tax receipts used to fund job training for the indigent and educational assistance for foster care youth. HR6501 was described as a revision of legalization introduced last year by McDermott to tax Internet gambling companies if they are licensed and regulated by the Department of Treasury.
"The gamblers want it; the poker players want it because they want a system in the United States, run in the United States, governed by our laws rather than floating out there in the world of the Internet," McDermott said.
The Review-Journal reports that Nevada lawmakers and lobbyists have given McDermott's bill the cold shoulder, however.
Rep. Jon Porter, (R-Nev.), issued a statement saying the bill would set "a harmful precedent" and described it as "a frivolous attack on the gaming community to pay for services that local governments, states and the federal government should already be providing." Porter has previously introduced measures calling for a study on online gambling legalization.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, (D-Nev.), who has called for a one-year study of Internet gambling by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, called McDermott's new bill "a classic case of putting the cart before the horse."
The American Gaming Association, which represents Nevada land casinos and is neutral on Internet gambling, said McDermott's bill "would seem to be at odds with one of the core principles of the AGA, which is to protect states' rights to individually tax and regulate gambling." The AGA reiterated its support for Berkley's study bill.
McDermott scoffed at the notion of a study of Internet gambling.
"My experience has been that, generally, studies are a way of wasting a year," McDermott said. "We need the money. We know what the issue is."
McDermott describes his legalization as supplementary to a bill by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., that would overturn a ban on Internet gambling and require the Treasury Department to regulate online betting.
"Without his bill, my bill doesn't go anywhere," McDermott said.
Although he acknowledged his bill is unlikely to pass Congress this year, McDermott said he plans to re-introduce it in 2009.
"Oh yeah, I'll be back on day one," he said.