Forum discussing legalising online gambling in Washington
By abigail
A forum was held on Monday in Washington, discussed the legalisation of online gambling in the US. The event was sponsored by BetOnSports, and was attended by academics, and representatives from within the industry, as well as figures from the media and advertising sectors. The overall verdict was that online gambling should exist in a properly legislated and regulated way within the States.

On the topic of regulation, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Kevin Whyte, made the following comments: “The distinctions between the types of gambling, based on how they’re delivered to the participant, seem arbitrary. The point is, the operator has the obligation to develop responsible gaming policies, regardless of whether the gambling is on the lottery, at a church bingo night, or on the Internet. There seems to be no theoretical reason that Internet gambling operators could not develop programs that meet or exceed current land-based responsible gaming practices.”

CEO of BetOnSports, David Carruthers said, “We have to act responsibly. We want to set the example for hosting a safe Internet site, and we're willing to do whatever it takes.”

Meanwhile, William Hebner an attorney who attended the forum focused on the legal issues: “The Wire Act is an antiquated statute that the government is using to intimidate companies from accepting advertising for Internet gambling sites. This is a law that was developed to stop racketeering over the phone more than 50 years ago. They are manipulating the law to cover a technology that was not even invented when the Act was written.”

His sentiments were endorsed by Emily Hancock, another attorney who added that, “The DoJ's actions are not only overreaching, but if this leads to outright prohibition, it will put an unreasonable burden on the Internet service providers to block online gambling.” Certainly the consensus at the forum was that the current legal status of online gambling in the US was not based on practical concerns, and even was not acting as much of a deterrent to online gamblers, simply forcing that revenue offshore. An example of this particular line of thinking can be seen in Heberer’s further comments likening the current illegal status as being like: “the little boy with his finger in the dyke. There will be no way to enforce it with consumers. From a consumer point of view it's better for government to bring online gambling into the light of day. This is the time to address Internet gaming regulation.”

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