Daily Archives: May 9, 2018

SEN. RICK JONES: Why Regulated Online Gambling Is Right for Michigan

Michigan’s legislature is considering a bill that would allow the Great Lake State to join a growing roster of states that have legalized online gaming.  Legislators would be right to ignore the scare tactics of legislation opponents, much of which, ironically, is funded and supported by gaming interests in Las Vegas.

For decades, the Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed a blanket ban of states legalizing online games of chance.  Thanks to pressure from states and some court cases, the DOJ in late 2010 reversed course and allowed states to make the determination themselves.  New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada were the first to legalize online gaming for their residents.

Opposition to the effort has been funded almost exclusively by Las Vegas billionaire and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.  Mr. Adelson has funded an organization dedicated to fighting legalized online gaming.  A group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling magically appeared.  Lobbyists, like former Democratic Senator Blanch Lincoln, were hired and poll-tested and focus group language were employed to restore the federal prohibition.

In Washington, DC and in state capitals across the nation, coalition representatives argue that legalized online gaming is a threat to your family and would turn your home into a casino.  The same thing is happening here.  In an article in the Detroit News, Dan Jarvis echoes these arguments claiming that the bill “turns all computers into casinos, all cell phones into slot machines and all iPads and tablets into poker tables.  The only thins that stands between our kids and one-click away from 24/7, 365 virtual casino isn’t an ID card but an Internet connection.”

Michigan’s legislature is considering a bill that would allow the Great Lake State to join a growing roster of states that have legalized online gaming.  Legislators would be right to ignore the scare tactics of legislation opponents, much of which, ironically, is funded and supported by gaming interests in Las Vegas.

For decades, the Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed a blanket ban of states legalizing online games of chance.  Thanks to pressure from states and some court cases, the DOJ in late 2010 reversed course and allowed states to make the determination themselves.  New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada were the first to legalize online gaming for their residents.

Opposition to the effort has been funded almost exclusively by Las Vegas billionaire and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.  Mr. Adelson has funded an organization dedicated to fighting legalized online gaming.  A group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling magically appeared.  Lobbyists, like former Democratic Senator Blanch Lincoln, were hired and poll-tested and focus group language were employed to restore the federal prohibition.

In Washington, DC and in state capitals across the nation, coalition representatives argue that legalized online gaming is a threat to your family and would turn your home into a casino.  The same thing is happening here.  In an article in the Detroit News, Dan Jarvis echoes these arguments claiming that the bill “turns all computers into casinos, all cell phones into slot machines and all iPads and tablets into poker tables. The only thing that stands between our kids and one-click away from 24/7, 365 virtual casino isn’t an ID card but an Internet connection.”

There are gaping holes in this argument.  First, a simple Google search will find hundreds of online casinos from every corner of the globe – from England to Russia.  Whether Michigan legalized online gaming or not, those off-shore gaming platforms will remain.  Legalizing would impose regulation on online gaming in Michigan that does not currently exist.  This will protect Michigan residents by ensuring that children do not gamble and safeguard consumers from being ripped-off by off-short operators.

Second, New Jersey and other states that have online gaming for more than half a decade; none of these alarmist scenarios have come to fruition.  There are more instances of under-aged kids gambling in brick and mortar casinos than in legal and regulated online forums.

New Jersey’s legalization has been and economic boon to the state.  Legalization has been a financial windfall for the Garden State with over $130 million raised for the state since legalization.  Over 3,000 jobs have been created.

Other states like Pennsylvania have decided to it makes little sense to cut off such a significant revenue stream.  Most believe the state will raise even more money for state coffers than their neighbors as they have more residents.

Michigan legislators would be prudent to ignore the fear-mongering of Las Vegas casino owners and look at the reality. Legalizing online gaming will protect children, create jobs and help balance the state budget.

Rick Jones is a State Senator for Michigan’s 24th District

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