Ever since billionaire land casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson announced his intention to outlaw online gambling across the United States no matter what it costs a war of words has been waged between his well-funded and active Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and supporters of a legalised and licensed industry that protects consumers and generates tax revenues for individual states.
To date, Adelson’s big bucks have created a vigorous Congressional lobbying campaign involving several top specialised companies; extensive media coverage and several highly biased publcity videos through PR firms; conference speakers slamming online gambling; very active political campaigning, especially among Republican politicians seeking re-election; and even would be presidential candidates offered support.
Last year that heady combination worked insofar as Utah’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina bowed to Adelson’s wishes and introduced the Restoration of the American Wire Act – a measure widely believed to have been drafted by Adelson minions – to Congress.
With concerns regarding states’ rights rising, this federal attempt to outlaw most forms of online gambling in the USA failed to gain sufficient traction in the 2014 Congressional season, but Chaffetz and Graham are back again this year, re-introducing their banning bills and getting off to a good start with a hearing scheduled for March 5 before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security.
The issue has been clouded by scare tactic semantics used by the Adelson faction, including spin that suggests that online gambling legalisation represents a casino in every pocket; technology cannot protect the underaged and compulsive; that it cannibalises land casino activity; and even that it is a vehicle for terrorist funding through its capacity to facilitate international money laundering.
Regrettably, fact and truth has been the main victim of this barrage of questionable allegations, and many industry observers feel that this is a threat to any objective and fair assessment of the online gambling genre and its operational and technological capabilities.
It is therefore essential that organisations or individuals with an opposing view be heard, and that factual evidence is presented in an easy-to-digest form for politicians on the Congressional panel who may have little prior knowledge of the subject.
The independent online poker information site Online Poker Report suggested this week in a logical and dispassionate article that the sort of information the hearing should be required to study ought to include two documents that have won widespread respect for accuracy rather than spin:
“The Original Intent of the Wire Act and Its Implications for State-based Legalization of Internet Gambling”, a short paper by Michelle Minton published by the University of Las Vegas Center For Gaming Research late last year and; “New Jersey Internet Gaming One Year Anniversary – Achievements to Date and Goals for the Future”, a fact-based and objective report on the first year of online gambling legalisation in New Jersey by the regulator, David Rebuck.
OPR points out that in the first of these documents Minton accurately reports on the original purpose and subsequent evolution of the 1961 Wire Act, information critical to understanding the Act and the policy position of the Justice Department from December 2011 forward.
The document also corrects some of the spin put out by the Adelson faction on this legislation.
As the director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, David Rebuck is widely respected as an effective regulator and a straight shooter, and his factually-based reportage on the first year of regulated online gambling in New Jersey therefore represents the important and entirely factual empirical hands-on experience of the issue rather than scare-based “what if” scenarios.
That alone is sufficient to justify serious attention by the Congressional hearing, but it also provides practical evidence that many of Adelson’s dire doom and gloom predictions have simply not materialised.
Read in full OPR’s interesting take on the issue here: