Big Debate – Part 1: The argument against online gambling in the US, by Blanche Lincoln

Big Debate – Part 1: The argument against online gambling in the US, by Blanche Lincoln

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Totally Gaming

As of 2015, three states have passed, and a few more are proposing, legislation to legalize Internet gambling, creating a number of considerations that deserve the full attention of Congress and citizens alike, writes Blanche Lincoln.

The Internet is already riddled with shadowy businesses and schemers. Parents are well aware of the dangers that lurk online in the form of identity theft, fraud, child predators, and various other criminal operations that can damage individuals and their families. Internet gambling, and its inherent dangers, simply adds to this list of serious concerns by bringing a casino inside every living room, bedroom, or dorm room around the country.

In fact, the issue has been hotly debated since 2006. At that time, Congress agreed in a bipartisan fashion, that the Wire Act should prohibit online gambling. Three years later, the FBI was still warning about the dangers to children and gambling addicts when they wrote Congress to say, “While the vendors may claim that they can validate age and location, they are more than likely relying on credit card information and geo-location to gather this information. Both can be spoofed.”

At that time, the FBI also brought to light other, equally serious issues. “[Internet gambling] could be used to transfer ill gotten gains from one person to another, or several other people.” In addition to some of these potentially criminal activities, we know from polling that the vast majority of Americans — across age and income demos — are opposed to Internet gaming.

Picture: Blanche Lincoln

So, why then are we facing the spread of Internet gambling?

On Dec. 23, 2011, the Justice Department — under cover of darkness and without any input from the House or Senate — retracted its position on the 2006 interpretation of the Wire Act. Suddenly, without debate or sufficient oversight, the doors were thrown open for states to authorize non-sports wagering over the Internet.

As we sit today, a few states are getting ready to consider online gambling legislation. With a complete lack of federal guidance, they are unwittingly putting millions of citizens at risk to criminal enterprise, fraud, and financial ruin.

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling steadfastly stands by the original interpretation of the Wire Act. We believe it’s correct, not only in the letter of the law, but in the original spirit of the law designed to protect citizens. With the global ramifications of Internet gambling, the dangers only grow. We believe law enforcement should use the tools, resources, and authorities it has to crack down on these sketchy online gambling businesses and ask Congress for whatever additional resources it needs to shut down illegal sites.

We need to act now, before more states enact legislation. Soon it will be too late to protect our citizens, and our country, from the potentially criminal acts of fraudulent online gambling enterprises.

About the author:

During her 16-year career in the U.S. Congress, Blanche Lincoln built a reputation as a results-oriented, bipartisan legislator, first as a two-term member of the House of Representatives and then as a two-term member of the U.S. Senate. She was the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate and now advocates on behalf of families as a national co-chair of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

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