Combat problems with regulation says pressure group


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

"Opponents of Internet gambling are using scare tactics and misstating research studies," claims pressure group exec.

Internet gambling experts spoke in support of regulation and their belief that the technology used in the industry provides a strong platform upon which to establish a framework to help combat compulsive gambling, a press release from the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative claims this week.

Legalised online gambling will provide a far higher level of safeguards than does an unregulated industry, and the Internet
Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Barney Frank, would protect U.S. consumers by establishing a regulatory and enforcement framework to tackle compulsive and underage gambling and ensure the integrity of Internet gambling financial transactions.

"The graphical and interactive structure of the internet provides a revolutionary opportunity to create informed customers with access to a variety of information designed to encourage safe choices and discourage unsafe behavior," said Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, a leading U.S. advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families.

"Clearly gambling on the internet raises some difficult issues, but it provides theoretical opportunities for operators to deliver responsible gaming programs that meet or exceed current standards in the bricks-and-mortar gaming industry."

Existing technology and security controls have already proven to be effective in addressing compulsive gambling. Available safeguards include the ability to control the amount of money wagered, set limits on amounts deposited, restrict the duration that somebody can play, identify and stop players whose gambling patterns seem out of the ordinary and allow for consumers to be excluded from online gambling.

Experts in Europe also agree that a stringent regulatory environment would help tackle compulsive gambling. "The robust, regulatory framework proposed by Congressman Barney Frank presents a viable opportunity to protect American consumers and combat problematic gambling," said Andrew Poole, Head of Online Services for GamCare, a U.K. based charitable organisation committed to addressing the social impact of gambling.

"Across Europe and the rest of the world, experience has shown that regulated Internet gambling and the implementation of proven safeguards can ensure more responsible gambling operations and off-set increases in problematic gambling."

"The Commission's experience indicates that the customer's ability to make informed choices, to have information readily available regarding spending patterns and to have access to an independent body if aggrieved, are all significant measures towards reducing the risk of compulsive gambling," said Andre Wilsenach, Chief Executive Officer of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the regulated Internet gambling activities of operators based on Alderney in the Channel Islands.

"Opponents of Internet gambling are using scare tactics and misstating research studies to argue that Internet gambling will result in higher occurrences of compulsive gambling," said Jeffrey Sandman, spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

Instead, a clearer example of the actual behaviour of Internet gamblers was presented in a recent study, "Assessing the Playing Field: A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Internet Sports Gambling Behavior," by the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, he said.

The research, based on a sample of over 40,000 subjects, measured the gambling behavior of online sports bettors and found
that only one percent exhibited excessive gambling patterns. On average, individuals did not gamble every day and posted modest bets, averaging two to three dollars a day - a relatively cheap form of entertainment.

Sandman added, "The current prohibition of Internet gambling is not stopping people from gambling online and does nothing to protect against problem gambling. The regulatory framework presented in the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, introduced by Congressman Barney Frank, provides an effective approach to protect consumers and ensure measures are in place to combat compulsive gambling."

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