Tuesday April 8,2014 : U.S. CONVENIENCE STORE OWNERS URGED TO SUPPORT ONLINE GAMBLING BAN
In a clearly protectionist mood, the NACS urges its members to support the Chaffetz-Graham bills.
The fight to stave off a federal ban on all internet gambling in the United States has clearly caught the attention of the national Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS), which has issued a statement calling on its members to support the Chaffetz and Graham banning bills just introduced to Congress at the behest of land gambling baron Sheldon Adelson.
There is certainly an element of self-interest in the statement; convenience store owners have long feared the impact of online lottery ticket sales, concerned at the possible loss of additional business that punters entering their shops to buy lottery tickets may give.
The Association reports to its members that it has already sent a letter to co-sponsors of the bill in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, explaining why this legalization is important to the convenience store industry, and noting that it would restore a long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act by reversing a Department of Justice decision that unilaterally expanded online gaming.
Quoting from its letter, and doing a little scare-mongering and moralising on the way, the NACS said:
“Unfortunately, in late 2011 the Department of Justice changed nearly 50 years of legal precedent and decided that the Wire Act does not prevent gambling on the Internet (other than sports betting).
“Because of this dramatic change, the Internet is poised to be the Wild West of gambling with individual states allowing gambling businesses of all kinds to set up shop online and prey upon vulnerable Americans without any federal check or consistency.”
The real reason for the Association's concern follows, with more unsubstantiated claims:
“Not only would this put kids at risk and dramatically increase gambling addiction and related problems, but it would devastate NACS member businesses throughout the country. Among the products NACS members offer are lottery tickets. NACS members spend substantial time and money ensuring that they verify age before customers can buy lottery tickets. No website will be able to replicate that.
"And, for problem gamblers and those who cannot afford to lose the money, just the need to leave home, go to a store and deal with another person in a face- to-face transaction can create some friction on decisions that they would later regret — certainly more friction than clicking a mouse in the privacy of home would cause. All of that will be lost if there are no federal limits on lotteries and other online gambling,” wrote NACS.
Just to be sure the point is hammered home, the Association goes on to tell its members:
"Many convenience stores depend on lottery ticket sales to generate foot traffic inside the store. Furthermore, the frequent lottery customer purchases additional items when they purchase their lottery tickets. In fact, on 95 percent of their store visits, lottery customers purchased at least one other merchandise product in addition to lottery.”
The NACS stance is unlikely to meet the approval of the growing number of US states who have invested substantially in introducing online lottery ticket sales to improve customer convenience, sales and efficiency.