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The Obama Justice Department quietly issued a legal opinion — just before a long Christmas weekend — that allows states to set up nonsports Internet gambling. The opinion upends decades of contrary decisions, but its real effect will be on the poor and young who suffer the most from gambling.
A campaign by powerful gaming interests to legalize online gambling in America has won a crucial victory from the Obama administration. On Friday, the Justice Department issued a legal opinion that allows states to authorize Web-based, nonsports gambling within their borders. For one, big doubts remain over whether states can indeed restrain such digital games of chance to residents while also keeping children from playing them.
State lotteries, for examples, have a poor record of preventing retailers from selling tickets to minors. And even if states can outsmart tech-savvy teens or out-of-state gamblers, once enough states jump into Internet gambling they will likely be able to work together and create a national scheme for such activity. That would violate the spirit if not the letter of a federal law banning such interstate activity. In effect, President Obama and his appointed Justice officials have bowed to political pressure from states that seek a new source of revenue in Internet gambling rather than taking the difficult decisions to raise taxes or cut spending.
It was dated last September but was quietly made public just before the long Christmas weekend, perhaps to prevent political waves. And it came a day after Nevada officials approved in-state online gaming. Critics also point to another possible political connection. To win Senate approval to serve on the court, she would need the support of Senate majority leader Harry Reid D of Nevada. The Obama Justice Department can hardly be that indifferent, however, to the research about effects of Internet gambling, whether on the single zero roulette systems, children, or the 1 to 2 percent of people prone to gambling addiction.
Regulatory safeguards to contain Internet gambling would require a vast and intrusive scheme to keep Web-based gambling from slipping over borders or being used by underage users. And states seeking revenue from Internet gambling have yet to add up the millions of dollars in additional costs to prevent abuse or deal with the effects of such gambling on online, families, and communities. Nearly half a million teens are gambling addicts, or about the same number as those who abuse prescription drugs.
When will states, and now this administration, drop the political and economic reasons for Internet gambling, and wake up to its harm on the poor and the young? We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered?
Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you. Monitor Daily Current Issue. A Christian Sushi roulette Perspective. Commentary The Monitor's View. By the Monitor's Editorial Board December 27, Adelson, the world's richest casino billionaire, says he's against online gambling because he doesn't believe available technology is good enough to prevent young people from making wagers on the Internet.
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