A Century Of Remote Betting

Attempts to stop the use of communications technology to wager are over a hundred year's old

One of the most interesting op-ed pieces published over the weekend has to be a Las Vegas Review-Journal article on the history of betting through channels created by technology developments, written by David G. Schwartz, who is the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada.

Arguing for the regulation, and not prohibition, of remote gambling in the Unites States, Schwartz goes back over a hundred years, when politicians were trying to ban wagering from pool rooms over the old race wire.

The article explores technology developments since then and how these have been used in the industry.

It's a fascinating look at how new technologies spawn new styles and access to betting by punters keeping up with fresh developments that make life more convenient…and the age-old predilection to halt the process by some politicians.

Schwartz concludes: "So today's world of remote poker and casino gambling via the Internet isn't as brave or new as we think.

"What lessons does the past offer? The hundred years' war against the wire didn't stop play. Those vulnerable to gambling problems didn't get help. Gangsters fuelled urban corruption. Tracks (and governments) lost money. Above all, it was profoundly difficult to uncouple gambling and technology; people like to gamble, and they like convenience.

"Still, potential problems can be mitigated. Those who are fearful of a future where gambling is accessible on a phone might, instead of arguing for prohibition, focus on responsible gambling efforts so that problem gamblers struggling with traditional or new ways to bet can have better support.

"A century ago, when all but two states prohibited gambling, a federal ban on remote gambling got a poor reception. Today, when forty-eight states and the District of Columbia allow it, the case for federal action is even more dubious.

"By acknowledging that remote gambling is better handled through careful regulation and control, we can avoid the grind of prohibitory efforts that, history suggests, will ultimately crumble.

The piece is well worth a read here: http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/prohibition-not-right-answer-online-gaming.

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