Saturday March 29,2014 : BANNING ONLINE GAMBLING A MISTAKE, SAYS POLICE ASSOCIATION
Negative answer to the question "will this make our citizens safer?"
The US National Fraternal Order of the Police surprised everyone by coming out against the Graham-Chaffetz legislative attempt to federally ban online gambling this week, saying that it would drive US online punters into the arms of unscrupulous internet black market operators.
In an op-ed piece in The Hill, FOP president Chuck Canterbury wrote that the Order is committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those they serve through education, legalization, information, community involvement, and employee representation.
Canterbury said that in pursuit of its objectives the FOP always looks for opportunities to make US citizens safer, and this is the principal question it always asks on new issues.
The FOP president rhetorically answers this question with an unequivocal "no" in regards to the bid to ban online gambling, and goes on to explain why:
"Currently, approximately 1 million Americans spend approximately $3 billion a year on illegal, black market online gaming. And we know, based on demand, this number is going to continue to grow significantly in the future."
Canterbury points out that the practical danger of this is that millions of Americans are being channeled into a dangerous black market largely bereft of real precautions against underage and problem gambling, criminal involvement and unfair gambling,.
"Not only does the black market for Internet gaming include no consumer protections, it also operates entirely offshore with unlicensed [in the USA] operators, drastically increasing the threat of identity theft, fraud or other criminal acts," he writes.
Unfortunately, at this point Canterbury departs reason and evidence to the contrary to regurgitate the unsubstantiated old fears that offshore internet gaming sites "…launder money for organized crime and help to finance terrorist networks."
But back to the FOP president's central theme, which is that a national ban on all online gaming would just drive online gaming further and further underground and put more and more people at risk:
"Not only would a ban push more and more Americans into the black market, it would remove the protections that states like Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada have already put in place. Essentially, you are banning a well regulated system, in favor of an unregulated, unprotected, black market.
"The solution is clear: we should maintain states’ rights to regulate online gaming within their borders and reinvest that revenue to make sure the systems are safe for all consumers. This will also allow law enforcement the tools necessary to monitor and shutdown illegal activity and give consumers who may have been victims a means of redress.
"A national ban would literally take money away from police departments, schools and other critical services. That means less cops on the beat. Congress would force regulated gaming and lotteries to shut down in many states, creating holes in their budgets that they may have no other way to fill.
"Finally, by having a well-regulated, well-monitored system for online gaming, people will be less drawn to illegal, black market sites which means a decrease in targets for criminals and less profit for their unlawful enterprises.
"We want to keep our citizens and our officers safe. And the best way to do this is to drive black market online gaming into the light and scrutiny of a regulated system that is safe, fun and fair," Canterbury concludes.