IGC Testifies before Congress
We thank the River City Group and Keith Furlong of the Interactive Gaming Council for this update on Internet legislative action pending before Congress, noting that the IGC’s position reflects many of the points outlined by Stanley Roberts in his insightful article “State Gaming Portals,” found in this Summer’s issue of Gambling Times.
On November 30 the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime, urged Congress to consider regulation of Internet gaming as a better means of protecting citizens than prohibition. The Committee members were hearing testimony on legislation, H.R. 556 and H.R. 3215, to prohibit Internet gaming by deputizing the financial services industry to monitor and prohibit financial instruments for illegal Internet gaming.
In IGC testimony presented by Frank Catania, former director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), former chair of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR), and current President, Catania Consulting Group, Inc., the committee heard that:
- Internet gaming regulation is concentrated on the exact issues raised by opponents of Internet gaming and proponents of complete prohibition. The solution lies in a strictly regulated alternative aimed at ensuring the presence of harm minimization measures, not the least of which relate to the protection of children and compulsive gamblers.
- Internet gaming already exists with the most recent Slot Gacor statistics showing are as many as 1,400–1,650 gaming web sites currently operating, a significant increase from only one year ago.
- Billions of dollars are reportedly being bet over the Internet with little, if any, oversight or guarantee that the operators of these sites are fair and honest, or that protections are in place to keep children and compulsive gamblers away.
- Internet gaming revenue projections imply that a percentage of these monies are from our citizens and leave the United States with no subsequent benefit, directly or indirectly, to the U.S. or any state (including no dedicated funds for protecting children and problem gamblers through education or other programs).
- Strict regulation will work; the question before Congress is not whether or not we will have online gaming—we most certainly will, unless we ban the Internet itself, but the question is whether we will have well regulated, above-board online gaming, or unregulated, underground online gaming. The bills before you opt for the latter.
Mr. Catania ended his testimony by commending Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Leech (R-IA), the prime sponsors of this legislation for their desire to minimize the social pathologies that attend problem and underage gaming. While the IGC have not supported their efforts, the organization respects their commitment, and we are sure that it is rooted in their experience of the harm that problem gambling can impart.
The Interactive Gaming Council is an international non-profit trade association of over 100 companies around the globe that are involved with the interactive gaming industry. The IGC’s mission is to: provide a forum to address issues and advance common interests in the global interactive gaming industry; establish fair and responsible trade guidelines and practices that enhance consumer confidence in interactive gaming products and services; and serve as the industry’s public policy advocate and information clearinghouse. An important role of the Interactive Gaming Council is to advocate for the adoption of strong government regulation of the Internet gaming industry. For more information, visit the IGC web site at www.igcouncil.org.
Frommer Bill AB 1229 Dies in California Senate Assemblyman Dario Frommer’s Bill to ban Internet Gambling in California was shelved by the State Senate after passing through the Assembly by a vote of 61-2. Frommer, D-Los Angeles, reacted angrily upon shelving of the bill stating: “The only winners in today’s action were Las Vegas’ biggest casinos, a well-connected Indian tribe, and hundreds of unscrupulous online gambling sites. The losers are average Californians who are literally a mouse click away from losing their life savings (or) homes to shady online casinos.” Frommer vowed to re-introduce his legislation in 2002.
Attempts by Gambling Times to meet with Frommer to discuss his position and reaction to the articles in the Fall 2001 issue of Gambling Times by I. Nelson Rose and Stanley Roberts have not borne fruit to this date. His Sacramento office informs us that he will not be available for an interview until January at the earliest, and phone calls to his local office have not been returned. We are still hopeful that the Assemblyman will meet with Gambling Times and Professor Rose prior to re-introduction of his bill to fully and cogently explain, to the people of California and the nation, his reasons for attempting to implement this sweeping and indeed draconian measure which infringes upon the personal rights of citizens.