Politicians Want to Protect us From the Evils of On-Line Gambling Part 3

This is part 3 of a multipart series of articles regarding proposed anti-gambling legislation. In this article, I continue the discussion of the reasons claimed to make this legislation necessary, and the facts that exist in the real world, including the Jack Abramoff connection and the addictive nature of online gambling.

The legislators are trying to protect us from something, or are they? The whole thing seems a little confusing to say the least.

As mentioned in previous articles, the House, and the Senate, are once again considering the issue of “Online Gambling”. Bills have been submitted by Congressmen Goodlatte and Leach, and also by Senator Kyl.

The bill being put forward by Rep. Goodlatte, The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, has the stated intention of updating the Wire Act to outlaw all forms of online gambling, to make it illegal for a gambling business to accept credit and electronic transfers, and to force ISPs and Common Carriers to block access to gambling related sites at the request of law enforcement.

Just as does Rep. Goodlatte, Sen. Kyl, in his bill, Prohibition on Funding of Unlawful Internet Gambling, makes it illegal for gambling businesses to accept credit cards, electronic transfers, checks and other forms of payment for the purpose on placing illegal bets, but his bill does not address those that place bets.

The bill submitted by Rep. Leach, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, is basically a copy of the bill submitted by Sen. Kyl. It focuses on preventing gambling businesses from accepting credit cards, electronic transfers, checks, and other payments, and like the Kyl bill makes no changes to what is currently legal, or illegal.

In a quote from Goodlatte we have “Jack Abramoff’s total disregard for the legislative process has allowed Internet gambling to continue thriving into what is now a twelve billion-dollar business which not only hurts individuals and their families but makes the economy suffer by draining billions of dollars from the United States and serves as a vehicle for money laundering.”

There are several interesting points here.

First of all, we have a little misdirection about Jack Abramoff and his disregard for the legislative process. This comment, and others that have been made, follow the logic that; 1) Jack Abramoff was opposed to these bills, 2) Jack Abramoff was corrupt, 3) to avoid being associated with corruption you should vote for these bills. This is of course absurd. If we followed this logic to the extreme, we should go back and void any bills that Abramoff supported, and enact any bills that he opposed, regardless of the content of the bill. Legislation should be passed, or not, based on the merits of the proposed legislation, not based on the reputation of one individual.

As well, when Jack Abramoff opposed previous bills, he did so on behalf of his client eLottery, attempting to get the sale of lottery tickets over the internet excluded from the legislation. Ironically, the protections he was seeking are included in this new bill, since state run lotteries would be excluded. Jack Abramoff therefore would probably support this legislation since it gives him what he was looking for. That does not stop Goodlatte and others from using Abramoff’s recent disgrace as a means to make their bill look better, thus making it not just an anti-gambling bill, but somehow an ant-corruption bill as well, while at the same time rewarding Abramoff and his client.

Next, is his statement that online gambling “hurts individuals and their families”. I presume that what he is referring to here is problem gambling. Let’s set the record straight. Only a small percentage of gamblers become problem gamblers, not a small percentage of the population, but only a small percentage of gamblers.

In addition, Goodlatte would have you believe that Internet gambling is more addictive than casino gambling. Sen. Kyl has gone so far as to call online gambling “the crack cocaine of gambling”, attributing the quote to some un-named researcher. To the contrary, researchers have shown that gambling on the Internet is no more addictive than gambling in a casino. As a matter of fact, electronic gambling machines, found in casinos and race tracks all over the country are more addictive than online gambling.

In research by N. Dowling, D. Smith and T. Thomas at the School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Bundoora, Australia “There is a general view that electronic gaming is the most ‘addictive’ form of gambling, in that it contributes more to causing problem gambling than any other gambling activity. As such, electronic gaming machines have been referred to as the ‘crack-cocaine’ of gambling”.

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Is Gambling An Expensive Pass-Time or Guilty Pleasure?

Is gambling a problem for you or someone you know?

With the inception of Internet gambling and Native American casinos compulsive gambling has become a serious problem for many teens and adults.

Internet gambling is popular among several age groups, however, teenagers have shown a special interest in the sites. “Statistics prove that teen-age Internet gambling is the fastest growing addiction of the day, akin to drug and alcohol abuse in the 1930s,” said David Robertson, former chairman of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, on the Web site http://www.cnn.com. “It’s pernicious, it’s evil, it’s certainly one that feeds on those who are the weakest members of society — and that’s the young and the poor.”

“Sports betting is a major problem, and it is getting worse,” said Ed Looney, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey Inc., on the council’s Web site, http://www.800gambler.org. “Betting pools available in high schools, colleges and offices throughout America will nearly match the amount of money generated on Super Bowl Sunday.”

“Seemingly innocent office pools many times are catalysts for some people to get involved in sports betting,” Looney said. “Many of these pools are illegal.”

Many people are using the Internet, to place bets and gamble. “Internet gambling has increased from one site to 1,400 in the past six years,” said Kevin O’Neill, deputy director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc., on the council’s Web site. “Easy availability and opportunity to make bets are the key essentials for young people to move into problem and compulsive gambling.”

A study by the National Institute of Mental Health concluded 4.2 million Americans are addicted to gambling, 60 percent of whom have yearly incomes under $25,000.

Gamblers Anonymous suggests answering the following twenty questions.

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?

2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?

3. Did gambling affect your reputation?

4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?

6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?

7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?

8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?

9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?

10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?

11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?

12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?

13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?

14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?

15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?

16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?

17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?

18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?

19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?

20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Deepak Chopra, MD states, “Addiction: The Number One Disease of Civiliazation.

If you or someone you know answered, ‘Yes’ to seven or more of these questions, problem/ compulsive gambling is the issue.

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