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Presidential Candidate Ron Paul Talks About UIGEA

Protector of Personal Freedoms, Helping End the UIGEA


Ron Paul speaks out about the UIGEARepublican presidential candidate Ron Paul is one of those rare politicians who seems to be in office for reasons other than ego or personal gain.

Closer to being a Libertarian than a contemporary Republican, he has served more than 10 years representing Texans in the House of Representatives since 1976 (he’s been in office since 1997, but served two other times). He believes the government should stay as far out of Americans’ lives as possible and sees the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as a dangerous precedent in the battle to regulate the Internet.

Paul is an outspoken opponent of the UIGEA and is a co-signer of Congressman Barney Frank’s bill that would prevent Federal employees from implementing the rules of the UIGEA, which would essentially kill it. He has been critical of the UIGEA during committee hearings about the bill.

His testimony at last month’s hearing on the rules and regulations of the UIGEA sums up his position: “The ban on Internet gambling infringes upon two freedoms that are important to many Americans: the ability to do with their money as they see fit, and the freedom from government interference with the Internet.”

Earlier this week, he took time from his schedule to talk with about the UIGEA.

Card Player: You are known as a man who is fighting the erosions of personal freedoms in America. Tell me your thoughts on the UIGEA and how it impedes personal freedoms.

Ron Paul: Well, I object to regulating the Internet in any way. I want the Internet to be free of government regulation and free of taxation, so that principal is very important for me. I think the whole idea of the UIGEA is to intrude upon that using government regulations. Of course, I also defend the right of individuals to spend their money as they choose. I personally don’t engage in gambling, but I recognize that some people enjoy and like it and can handle it, and they ought to have the right to do it. If they take risks, it should be their own risks and nobody else’s. So, for those two reasons I strongly object to the way the law is written now, that this is to be regulated. I’ve taken the position that the federal government ought to have their hands off, completely.

CP: What kind of precedent does the UIGEA set as far as government regulation, Internet, and beyond?

RP: I think it opens up the door, because the motivation there, they claim, is to keep people from gambling. They don’t like the personal activities that people engage in, but who knows, there may be different factions who don’t like competition or other motivations that are involved. Anyway, they gather up coalitions; there may be some groups who want protection and other groups want to tell us how to spend our money. Other groups like the idea that the government has more control over the Internet because the more control they have, the more likely it is that they’re going to start taxing the Internet.

CP: What groups do you think would like to see more control of the Internet?

RP: I think the conservatives who are careless about protecting civil liberties and liberals who might say that they want more control of it for tax purposes. Just as coalitions are built for other reasons, I think you’ll get those types who will argue the case that the government needs to manage the Internet.

CP: Why have you taken up the fight against the UIGEA? Is it mainly because of the personal freedom issue?

RP: To me, it’s been more the personal freedom issue. The Internet, to me, is too valuable. It’s such an opportunity to compete with other sources of spreading information around the world. When you look at what major media can do to control political thoughts, the Internet is a tremendous asset. I think that is a really important issue. It just happens that this is the issue that is being discussed right now, and they have chosen to use it to open the doors for further regulation. If they could use that principle now, it will be used for other reasons. It might be for some religious beliefs that may come across as rather bizarre and they might start regulating that, or political beliefs. I think it just opens up Pandora’s Box.

CP: How could a law so sweeping like this find its way on a completely unrelated “must pass” bill and make it through without any significant debate?

RP: Well, I think that’s the way this whole system works. We’ve fought that for a long time, but it finally got stuck on. Of course, right now, we have on our side of the fight the chairman of the financial services committee, Barney Frank, and he and I have been working together, so hopefully we can reverse some of this, but I think we have to be constantly vigilant, because if you win one fight, they’ll come back again and try to get you in a different way.

CP: How does the system need to change in order for this not to happen again?

RP: You probably would have to change the Congress. You would have to change the attitudes about the majority of American people. Right now, the people in Congress understand only power and reelection and lobbying and special interest groups, and if they get lobbied for certain reasons and think it’s in their interests to vote a certain way for reelection, they do. We would have to change attitudes around the country and have people agitating for the right thing to do, and that’s a big job, and it involves a lot of education and spreading of information.

CP: What should be done about Internet gambling in America?

RP: I think we should just take a hands-off position. I don’t think the government should be involved in any way at all. If I take a personal viewpoint that gambling is bad and I don’t like it, the way I should attack that is that I personally should avoid doing it and teach my kids the way I think they should act. But I don’t want the government coming in and doing this.

: Not even at a state level?

RP: Well, at a state level there are no prohibitions to [regulate] it. If I were a state legislator, I would probably argue against just about all that regulation, and taxing, as well. But as a federal official, I have to no authority to prohibit states from being involved.

: Where do you think the issue of online gambling and the UIGEA falls as far as Congressional priorities for your colleagues?

RP: I think pretty low. I don’t hear too much talk about it. I think right now they’re more interested in figuring out how many hundreds of billions of dollars they’re going to send over to fight the war in Iraq.

CP: You haven’t co-signed onto Rep. Robert Wexler’s bill that would define certain games, including poker, as games of skill, which would essentially remove them from the “gambling” category. What do you think of Mr. Wexler’s bill, and why haven’t you singed onto it?

RP: I have to admit, I don’t know enough about it to discuss it and whether there’s something minor in there that I object to and that’s why my staff hasn’t brought it to me. I really don’t know, but if it would improve the situation, I am probably a supporter of it. But I haven’t taken a position on it.

CP: What’s the status for your candidacy for president?

RP: Well, technically it still exists and we still campaign and we still go around the counties where the primaries haven’t yet occurred, and we still get a lot of support and a lot of enthusiasm. We’ve gotten a lot of enthusiasm because of the book that just came out, The Revolution: A Manifesto, and wherever we go, we get a lot of attention because American people are still very frustrated with the attack on economic liberties and our personal liberties and what’s going on with foreign policy with this perpetual war we have in the Middle East.

: If asked, would you accept the VP nomination?

RP: Probably not, but I’m quite certain I won’t be asked. That’s not going to happen, because [John] McCain’s views and mine coincide hardly at all. He’s taken positions that are much closer to the Democratic party’s, and he’s certainly not a stickler for the Constitution like I am.

Tags: poker law


over 9 years ago


Solid interview, CP!


over 9 years ago

that was refreshing for a change. I don't live in Texas, but if I did I would support this man 100 percent. At least he seems to have a good grasp on this issue and the precedent that it might set.


over 9 years ago

i voted ron paul in the primary but ,looks like barack is the only choice now since ron paul isnt a front runner


over 9 years ago

you guys should interview Wayne Allyn Root at least hes gonna be an option in November as well as McCain and which ever candidate wins on the Dems side however I would say that Root is the only one that will give you time of day.


over 9 years ago

"Closer to being a Libertarian than a contemporary Republican..."

Why can you just give him credit without trying to qualify your statement. It doesn't hurt to be on the same side as a will not turn in to a pumpkin if you agree with one of them. Your liberal friends will still invite you to their kumbaya parties.