A leading professor at Canada’s McGill University has accused an American Congressman of incorrectly citing research into problem gambling in order to continue the nation’s prohibition on Internet gambling.
Dr Jeffrey Derevensky, a Professor in the University’s Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, contends that Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus cited research from McGill that claimed that one-third of college students who gambled online attempted suicide. The Republican Member of the House of Representatives used the research to argue for the continued prohibition of online gambling during a mark up of the Payments System Protection Act in the House Committee on Financial Services in late-June.
However, Derevensky told the Washington, DC-based Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative lobby group that he believes the regulation of online gambling is an opportunity to put in place safeguards that would combat problem and underage gambling.
'This assertion, which is reportedly based upon our empirical research, is not predicated upon any factual evidence,' said Derevensky.
'None of the studies conducted with adolescents or college students, to the best of my knowledge, have looked at a connection between Internet wagering and suicide attempts.'
Derevensky revealed that he sent a letter to Representative Bachus along with Barney Frank stating his belief that a regulated environment offered better protection for consumers.
'If Congress is serious about minimising the threat posed by Internet gambling, it should look to create an environment where Internet gambling operators are required to put in place safeguards that protect against compulsive and underage gambling,' said the Montreal-based academic.
'It is disappointing that Representative Bachus is using scare tactics and false claims in an attempt to justify why Congress should limit my ability to gamble online,' said Jeffrey Sandman, Spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.
'We are encouraged by the academic community's support of Internet gambling regulation. They emphasise the important point that consumers will be better protected if there are safeguards put in place to combat underage and problem gambling.'