Saturday July 19,2014 : FIREWORKS AT ONLINE GAMBLING CONFERENCE
CSIG spokesman questioned on tendency to flip-flop.
Former San Francisco mayor and spokesman for Sheldon Adelson's Coaltion to Stop Internet Gambling, Willie Brown certainly caught the attention of delegates at the GIGSE conference in San Francisco this week, despite rolling out the now rather tired Adelson scare arguments that online gambling is addictive, dangerous, vulnerable to money laundering and presents underage gambling problems.
A number of delegates commented on the politician's current bias but tendency to repeatedly flip-flop on the issue in California over the past fifteen years, an accusation he dismissed by implying that now he has retired he is not constrained in expressing his views.
Brown staunchly defended conventional land gambling in a panel discussion, claiming that land operators have more control and a physical presence which mitigates the dangers commonly found in singular gambling over the internet or on mobile devices.
Former Nevada governor Robert Miller, ever the gentleman, and apparently somewhat more open minded and knowledgeable on the subject, said that he appreciated Brown's "philosophical flexibility”, but went on to present a more positive argument in which states' rights are respected and effective safeguards ensured in state-based legalization initiatives.
He focused on flaws in some the arguments used by anti-online gambling campaigners, commenting that major scientific studies have shown that the levels of problem gambling in the online environment are not worse than in conventional land gambling, and that sophisticated technologies in ID and age verification, along with effective credit card and money tracking systems, make the dangers of money laundering and criminal activity on the internet less likely than in the land sector.
Miller said that many Americans engaged in internet gambling and that instead of prohibition, legalization and regulation presents a more effective solution that combats the dangers, protects players and generates useful revenues for state coffers.
William Volk, a mobile gambling company executive, challenged Brown's assertions that online gambling could not be properly monitored, controlled and regulated, drawing his attention to the well-established regulatory and operational regimes in Europe, and specifically the United Kingdom, where there was ample and long-established practical proof that Brown's claims are flawed.
Another former governor, Edward Rendell from Pennsylvania, one of the main land gambling markets in the United States, was positive on internet gambling, emphasising the need for his state to recognise that online gambling is happening in the United States, and if other US states legalise and Pennsylvania does not, it will be at a disadvantage and miss out on valuable government revenues.
Rendell pointed to the significant success of land gambling legalization in his state, and the benefits it had delivered in increased employment and tax revenues that have enabled Pennsylvania to reduce property taxes. He supported the concept of states' rights in making such decisions, he said.
On a practical level, and addressing hypothetical claims that children could use their parents' credit cards to gamble over the internet, the former governor said ID and age verification technologies had advanced significantly, and in any case parents would undoubtedly be the best regulators of all if they discovered their offspring had been using their credit cards without their knowledge and permission.