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Gaming Guru

 

Conyers to Propose Internet Gambling and Regulation Study

5 March 2003

In an interesting guest column in the Las Vegas Sun, Michigan Representative John Conyers announced that he will reintroduce legislation to create an Internet Gambling Licensing and Regulation Study Commission to evaluate how to regulate online gambling. Representative Conyers has become a very outspoken opponent on Congressional efforts to curb Internet gambling.

The United States Congress is currently debating a bill that would essentially prohibit the use of credit cards to gamble on the Internet. Proponents of this legislation claim that online gambling sites are currently being used to launder money for terrorists and other criminal organizations. Those who support this bill also claim that online gambling sites provide easy, unregulated access to underage children and problem gamblers.

However, opponents, including Conyers, claim that the bill, in its current form, will not stop the millions of Americans regularly using the Internet as a means of placing a wager. Rather, opponents say, this prohibition would merely drive the online gambling industry underground and into the hands of corrupt merchants. To address these concerns, Conyers has argued that Congress should examine whether strict state regulation and licensing could ensure that gaming websites play fairly and that dishonest operators are shut down immediately. Conyers' proposed Study Commission would be charged with finding out whether the same conditions and regulations that allow for safety and fairness in land-based casinos could logically be extended to Internet-based casinos.

Even if conceptually it is possible to develop safeguards for the online gambling industry, there are benefits land-based casinos bring to a community that are inherently absent from Internet gambling. Perhaps the most glaring example of these benefits is jobs. Michigan's casino industry currently creates, at a minimum, 20,000 jobs statewide. Indirectly, benefiting the tourism industry, there are tens of thousands of additional people who reap benefits from casinos.

Representative Conyers may have a point when he suggests that the topic deserves greater study. However, any such study should consider all of the factors including the impact on an industry which brings a lot to the community in which it ends up being located. Such a study should also examine how problem gambling could be addressed and what steps could be taken to assure that children are not gambling with a parent's credit card. There are also a host of economic considerations which will be implicated with respect to tax revenue for state and local communities that host such casinos.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com