The war of words continues in Washington DC
The Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, an action body set up to oppose Sheldon Adelson's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, fired another broadside Tuesday with an op-ed in the influential political newspaper The Hill written by former FBI agent, politician and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Michael Oxley.
Oxley stressed that banning all online gambling has always been the wrong approach in his experience, and is the wrong policy to protect American families.
"The question isn't whether or not Americans are participating in online gaming," Oxley wrote. "The consumer base is in the millions, and the revenue is in the billions on overseas black markets. The question is whether Congress banning all online gaming would make consumers more or less safe on the Internet."
The former Ohio Congressman says the answer is that Americans would be less safe under a federal banning regime, risking exposure to identity theft, fraud, even money laundering on unsafe, unregulated, overseas black-market websites. Ignoring that black market, rather than addressing it will only make Americans less safe, he suggested.
"Before serving in Congress, I served our nation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Oxley continued. "Based on my experiences, I can tell you that the proposed ban on online gaming would do nothing to stop the billions of dollars flowing through these black-market websites, which are often run by individuals the Justice Department says are engaged in serious criminal activity. Prohibition of that type didn't work with alcohol, and it won't work with the Internet today."
Oxley notes that Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have legalised some form of internet gambling already, putting in place consumer protections that prohibit minors from playing, and ensure the games are fair. Other states are actively considering legalisation in terms of their rights as states to do so, and Congress should not "roll back" these positive developments, he wrote.
The op-ed goes on to discuss the advances in technology that now make ID and location verification so much more effective in existing regulated markets for online gaming and other online commerce.
"Congress cannot reverse time or get rid of the Internet. We need to be focused on keeping consumers, businesses, and families safe when engaging in online activities. That means utilizing the best available technology and the best safeguards, not blocking their use, Oxley concludes.
"I know my former colleagues in Congress want to keep American consumers and online activities safe. That's why I know they'll choose the right path and reject this misguided ban."
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