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Key gambling foe to appear on BBC

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by Ian_go, Nov 14, 2006.

    Nov 14, 2006
  1. Ian_go

    Ian_go Dormant account

    keeping the peace
    An outspoken gambling critic who will be featured in an upcoming British Broadcasting Corp. news program on Internet gambling also is working to keep the multistate lottery out of Wyoming.

    But lottery supporters say players are already driving to other states to bet their dollars, and public opinion supports bringing a lottery to Wyoming.

    Retired dentist David Robertson is chairman of the state anti-gambling group Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow.

    He sat down Monday for an interview with BBC reporter Declan Lawn, who is working on an Internet gambling segment for "Panorama," the network's flagship investigative public affairs program. "The show is about legislation in the United Kingdom that would put in place specific measures on Internet gambling, allowing it to be taxed and strictly regulated," said Lawn.

    The newly passed law, set to take effect next year, has been the subject of much public debate, said Lawn.

    He has taped interviews in Costa Rica, a nation with friendly online gambling laws where many companies are based, as well as Gibraltar, a European haven for the burgeoning industry.

    "We came to speak to David because of his involvement and expertise in this issue," Lawn said.

    Robertson is also a board member of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. He said he got involved in the issue in 1993, when Nevada casino gambling companies were seeking to expand to other states.

    "I love my state, and I didn't want to see casino gambling here," he said. "It would completely change the whole tenor of what Wyoming is. Gambling brings in crime, lowlifes and corruption, and people don't want it here."

    Robertson said he also had personal reasons for opposing gambling, after a cousin suffered financial ruin following a long bout of compulsive betting.

    "I've seen what it can do," he said.

    He credits work by organizations like WyBETT and NCALG in getting recent federal legislation passed banning U.S. banks from engaging in financial transactions with online casinos.

    Robertson also praised the arrests this year of two British online gambling executives visiting the U.S.

    Lawn said some in the U.K. see such enforcement actions as a prohibition by the American government on how British gamblers may place their bets.

    Robertson said online gambling is too addictive to be made legal.

    "It's so addictive because it brings a casino right into the home," he said. "It brings about suicide, bankruptcy and crimes to support the habit. It destroys families and destroys individuals. I can't say it any plainer than that.

    "If Internet gambling were legalized in the U.S., the economy would have the effect of a major recession. It would create so many addicts, and be devastating," he said.

    Some of the arguments he makes against online and casino gambling also apply to a state-run lottery, Robertson said.

    "Why in the world would the government want to sponsor and tax something that would cause so much damage?" he asked. "The government has some responsibility to provide for the common good."

    Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, co-chair of the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee, said opinion polls have shown that while residents are against casino gambling, they support a lottery.

    One recent poll showed that 62 percent of state voters support a lottery, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

    Childers' committee endorsed last week a bill that would allow Wyoming to join a multistate lottery.

    Other legislation endorsed by the committee would establish a state gambling commission to oversee games like bingo, and set ground rules for churches and other nonprofits using such games for fundraisers.

    Expected to net less than $10 million a year, the lottery would not be a big moneymaker for the state, said Childers.

    "It's about those people in the state that want it, that are already playing it, and who don't want to have to drive out of state to do it," he said.

    "The biggest sales point in Colorado for the multistate lottery is the first little store south of Cheyenne," he said, adding that Wyoming residents are also big lottery players along the Nebraska border and in Belfry and Billings in Montana.

    Childers said the bill includes a provision for spending up to 1 percent of gross proceeds to fund community-based gambling addiction treatment programs.

    "I think it makes a lottery a lot more palatable to most people, knowing we're going to dedicate some money to take care of the problems that might come with it," he said.

    Childers said that, besides the lottery, there are no plans to expand gambling in the state.

    But trying to stop online gambling through state or federal legislation is difficult, if not impossible, he said.

    "Did prohibition work?" said Childers. "The people just flat didn't like that. I really don't think you can legislate morality, and I've got a problem with trying to do that."

    -- Billings Gazette

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