Trump family, Md. governor at odds over Internet gambling bill

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
Font Size:

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump wants to get into the online gambling business, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, suggests it would be a revenue generator for governments.

Critics argue, however, that an online gambling bill sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton would actually divert critical revenue away from the states, and to the federal government.

Barton’s bill would legalize online gambling on a federal level. Trump is said to be lobbying hard for its passage.

“It would be a tremendous source of taxable revenue for states or the federal government and an enormous generator of jobs,” Ivanka Trump recently declared.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is currently weighing the merits of federal regulation of the online gambling business, but opponents worry revenue would be deprived from states if the bill passes. The battle is fierce, as current economic hardships have both the states and the federal government strapped for cash.

Fearing the deficit reduction super committee would use the Barton bill to tackle the deficit, Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley sent a letter to the committee’s members. In the letter, O’Malley articulated possible negative effects to his state, should the bill pass. (RELATED: Trump jokes about well-dressed Occupy protesters)

“In Maryland, for example, federalized poker and casino gambling would put at risk the $519 million annually we generate from our state lottery — our state’s fourth largest source of revenue — and jeopardize the jobs and survival of lottery retailer, many of which are small businesses,” wrote O’Malley.

O’Malley said that states have traditionally regulated the gambling industry, and used proceeds on under-funded educational programs. The bill could draw millions of dollars away from schools, he wrote, and jeopardize the jobs of 500 employees who enjoy “good wages and benefits.”

While Ivanka Trump articulated her belief that the bill would create jobs, O’Malley appears unconvinced that they would be Maryland jobs.

“Many of us in the states already face significant budget deficits. Federalizing internet poker and casino games would serve to widen these deficits — and therefore threaten our nation’s fragile jobs recovery,” wrote O’Malley.

Follow Josh on Twitter