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Senator Withdraws Internet Gambling Health Care Funding

A US Senator decide to drop a thoughtful plan to fund health care through taxing Internet gambling, as lawmakers linked to vested gaming interests objected at linking the two proposals.

As quickly as the hopeful concept was introduced, it vanished Tuesday as Senator Ron Wyden dropped his amendment funding health care subsidies from revenues collected by regulating Internet gambling. Wyden's proposal last week to use tax money from online gaming to help pay for low-income family health costs had brought encouragement to two causes, as online casino supporters and health care advocates felt Wyden had tied together two causes dear to the US public.

But Wyden's representatives told The Hill that Wyden decided to pull the attachment, as he did not want to increase any controversy already facing the health care package.

“The last thing Senator  Wyden wants to do is make it more difficult to expand subsidies for working families by introducing a new contentious issue to the debate,” said Jennifer Hoelzer, his communications director.

Apparently, the Democratic leadership urged Wyden not to combine the online gambling issue with health care.

“Changing the laws regarding online gaming is a significant detour from health care, a detour that Senator Reid agrees is not appropriate at this time,” Regan LaChapelle, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told The Hill.

Reid is a Senator from Nevada, receiving substantial support in campaigning from the land-based casino industry, which is torn about the possibility of regulated online gambling.

Representatives Barney Frank and Jim McDermott, authors of bills to regulate Internet gaming, praised Wyden's amendment, and said they might add it in House versions of the health bill, easing the worries of those who object to the cost of health care. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that taxing online casinos could generate $62 billion over a decade.

Published on September 23, 2009 by JoshuaMcCarthy

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