Former mayor warns that internet gambling will cost brick and mortar jobs…but where’s the evidence?
Blithely ignoring strong empirical evidence to the contrary, most recently from a senior Borgata exec speaking about that company’s online gambling experience in New Jersey, Sheldon Adelson ally and former Denver mayor Wellington Webb (72) burst into print over the weekend, claiming that legalised internet gambling will cost American jobs.
InfoPowa readers may recall that Webb, along with former New York mayor George Pataki and lobbyist and politician Blanche Lincoln, are the frontmen for Adelson’s campaign to ban online gambling through his new Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Webb appears to be trying to preempt a new push for legalised intrastate online gambling that is evolving in Colorado.
Writing an opinion piece in the Denver Post, Webb says there are serious social, economic and policy ramifications that need to be considered, and that internet gambling will have a "devastating" effect on jobs in the state’s brick and mortar casino business…but offers no firm evidence to back his assertion.
Sticking to the Adelson hymn sheet, Webb says that internet gambling will also place "poor and other vulnerable populations" at greater risk through "easy access" to online gambling sites, and warns that mobile betting is more dangerous than physically visiting a land casino where he claims trained staff can stop underaged and problem gamblers more effectively.
He also follows the recent example of anti-online gambling academic John Kindt and his associates in regurgitating a now aging FBI letter to Congress warning – again without substantiation – that internet gambling provides a channel for money laundering by terrorists and others.
Ironically, in August Las Vegas Sands paid $47.4 million to settle a federal money-laundering investigation and avoid criminal charges. The inquiry looked at casino play between 2006 and 2007 by Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon, who was linked to international drug trafficking. According to US enforcement officials, he wagered $84 million.
The somewhat skewed polls commissioned by Webb ally Adelson, which purport to show that the majority of Americans do not favour legalisation of online gambling are additionally thrown into the Webb mix for good measure.
In short, the former mayor brings nothing fresh or new to the debate and follows a well-worn and unproved path in his criticisms of the online industry.
"While it’s dressed up as fun and easy – full of color and action – Internet gambling ends up destroying lives, and our most vulnerable citizens become ensnared. It presents a nightmare scenario for parents already fending off graphic materials, predators roaming the Internet, and other illegal or inappropriate content," Webb claims.
The punchline of the article is synched with Adelson’s stated desire to revamp the 1961 Wire Act in order to explicitly ban most forms of online gambling, save for those that have political carve-outs like fantasy sports and horse racing.
When the Justice Department finally admitted in late 2011 that they had got it wrong with the Wire Act, and that it applied only to sports betting, they acted with "no public input or congressional involvement", Webb says.
Furthermore, he alleges that the 2006 UIGEA legislation constituted a federal ban on internet gambling, which is stretching the purpose of that act – the disruption of financial transactions with "illegal" online gambling websites without properly defining them as such.
Consequently, he urges the US Congress to "…act now to restore the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act, and put up a firewall to guard against the offshore illegal Internet casinos that are up and running already.
"Law enforcement lacks the tools to crack down on these rogue operators, often controlled by criminal enterprises. Given this momentum, we must act now. Otherwise, Internet gambling will be unleashed nationwide," Webb warns.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa