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Senator Jim McDermott Proposes to Fund Job Training with Gambling Revenue

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

               Democratic representative Jim McDermott (Washington)has made a proposal to, by amending the Social Security Act, spend $40 billion on job training and educational assistance for foster care youth over the next ten years. The new legislation would be financed via revenue generated by online gambling. The bill, known as the Investing in our Human Resources Act, or H.R. 6501, is the second written by McDermott in an attempt to regulate internet casino gambling websites.

                “We have an ideal opportunity to invest billions of dollars in American workers and our struggling economy without increasing the federal deficit,” said McDermott. “IHRA would utilize a funding stream that would become available should Congress decide to legalize and regulate internet gambling, which would protect consumers and collect tax revenue that is currently offshore.”

                The IHRA calls for funds from the Transitional Assistance Trust Fund, attributable to internet gambling, to be transferred and invested into job training.  Additionally the legislation would require more awareness of unsafe online casino practices and responsible internet gambling behavior. Section 3 of the IHRA states that the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to complete a national program, known as the Safe Internet Gambling Practices Program in order to implement such policies into the regulation of internet gambling. This policy has been well received by problem gambling officials.

                Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling said, “I believe that the McDermott bill could be a positive step to help raise awareness about the dangers of unsafe gambling practices and the availability of addiction treatment.”

                The IHRA is currently co-sponsored by Representative George Miller (Democrat, California), who is the chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, and John B. Larson (Democrat, Connecticut), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus. The introduction of this bill shows that there is a growing support for the online casino industry in Congress. Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative spokesman, Jeffery Sandman said, “We need to change the current oath, where the prohibition of internet gambling allows for billions of dollars to be lost in an underground, uncontrolled marketplace ripe for criminal exploitation.”

                Billions of dollars is right. The market is said to generate revenue of between $8.7 billion and $42.8 billion over the next ten years. This revenue would be distributed to individual states based on their population percentages.

                McDermott’s previous proposal, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2007, or H.R. 2607, is currently waiting to be reviewed by the House Committee on Ways and Means. H.R. 2607 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to establish licensing requirements and fees for internet gambling operators. As such, online casino, poker and sportsbook operators would be forced to meet set criteria of safe and fair business practices, and pay the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network a monthly license fee of 2% of all bets and wagers placed.

                In order to gain more support for the legislation, McDermott sent every Congress member a letter with a chart showing “projected allocations of funding by state.” The letter can be viewed at