Many moons ago, before I was struck with my chronic disease, I was a die hard online gambler. Lower income has taken this hobby away from me, but I recently was reminiscing with a fellow punter when the topic of medical marijuana legalization came up. It is then that I realized that online gambling is a lot like medical marijuana, at least in terms of the federal government dealing with it.

The parallels are striking, and it would make a lot make a lot of sense for the federal government to legalize and regulate both.

Both are acts that are technically illegal, however certain states have taken steps to legalize both marijuana and online gambling.

Federal prohibition also has not stopped people from either smoking marijuana or from gambling online. Instead it has pushed the consumers to go to unsafe means. Online gamblers turn to offshore casinos, which can be run from jurisdictions that are not regulated, often leading to financial loss or identity theft. Marijuana smokers who are unable to get their medical cards are forced to go to illegal drug dealers who often times are not interested in the user’s well being  Lack of federal legalization does not stop usage, but instead only puts the consumer at risk.

When it comes to the federal government, the big issue is always money. Politicians are often bought off by high paying lobbyists who work to keep politicians from passing laws that they deem harmful to their businesses. Marijuana and online gambling legislation has been bogged down by these lobbying groups who are looking out for their own interests. Who is behind some of these groups?

On the marijuana side you have prison corporations, pharmaceutical companies, and alcohol corporations all fighting to keep the herb illegal. These firms all have a vested interest in keeping pot illegal, and looking into the groups, you can see why. Prisons have helped keep millions of pot users locked up, boosting profits all the while. Pharmaceutical firms don’t want to see a naturally grown plant taking over their pills. Alcohol companies see weed as a competitor, thinking that smokers will affect their beer sales while looking for a buzz.

Online gambling is bogged down by land casino activists who also view cyber betting as a threat to their bottom line. These firms have been effective at targeting both Democrats and Republicans, keeping the potential $55 billion in tax revenues that the hobby could bring in over 5 years off the books.

The similarities between both topics is striking, and the reasons to keep them illegal is equally illogical. Little is likely to change in the near future unless more individual states begin changing their laws.

It will certainly be interesting to see where things go over the next several years.