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August 1, 2014

US Serious About Regulating Online Gambling


Barney FrankProponents of online gambling have demanded House Financial Service Committee to improve and regulate internet gambling by using technological advancements and generate more revenue rather than nipping it in the bud. Congressman Barney Frank (D-mass) has assured that he would support implementation of new legislation to legalize some forms of online gambling and regulate the practices.

At Frank’s House Financial Service Committee hearing on Thursday, while opponents condemn online gambling, supporters have been noted advocating its existence, which is said to add more than $16 billion a year with a big part coming from US betters.

They, the supporters, also vouch for its potential to generate more tax revenues and new jobs in US companies if can be regulated properly. “There are technologies that can efficiently be used to improve and regulate online gambling and turn it into a greater resource of revenue than now” they say. But opponents fear that it might take the jobs away from conventional gaming (or gambling) avenues.

Congressman Frank has been a noted critic of ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’, the legislation passed in 2006, which prohibits financial institutions from accepting payments for online betting, and could never be implemented since.

The legislation was also criticized by many banks and financial institutions for being too complicated and impossible to implement. The American Bankers Association was also among the petitioners who had requested a hold on this law.

“Today’s out-of-control Internet gambling situation was made possible by the revolution in technology,” says Michael Brodsky, executive chairman of an online wagering company, at the hearing, “and it will take technology to fix it”. He established an example of pari-mutual horserace wagering industry in U.S. as a model of how to provide a responsible online wagering experience for adults. The pari-mutual betting is legal in U.S. states and acquired and managed by Churchill Downs who provide an efficient infrastructure for pari-mutual gambling in the states.

Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government presented an exhaustive report in support of regulating online gambling industry rather than discouraging it by certain restrictions. “A well-regulated industry under U.S. jurisdiction could offer improved protection against the potential dangers of online gambling” says Sparrow.

There were some adverse comments, too, mooted out at the hearing. Robert Martin, tribal Chairman of Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California says that “legislation will do nothing but legalize off-shore gaming at the expense of American jobs”.

There has been a similar aura developing in Australia too where Andrew Twaits says “I can’t sit here and tell you there won’t be more problem gamblers created through online gaming or online wagering.” Andrew is the Chief Executive Betfair Australia, “I think what we as an industry need to do is to provide the safest platform that we possibly can” he adds.

Andrew suggests safeguarding loss limits and deposit limits as the best way of preventing problem gambling.


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