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 McKissick: Obama opens door to return of video gambling



Guest Columnist [I...web site author...have posted this amongst my various gambling-warning resources without permission but intending to immediately take it down if The State newspaper...copyright owner... "calls my hand" on it; I'm afraid that it will become inaccessible within archives if I only provided a link, HERE

Just over a decade after South Carolina finally managed to rid itself of the scourge of video poker and the influence that almost owned our Legislature, the Obama administration has opened the door to welcome it back to our state.
Yes, really.

In fact, it opened the door for virtually every form of gambling in December when it quietly issued a new interpretation of existing federal law, proclaiming that the Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act did not apply to anything other than sports betting.

The decision clearly undermines the long established intent of Congress that technology shouldn’t be used to circumvent state gambling laws, and the practical impact will be that any form of gambling that is legal in any state will be made available on the Internet in every state.

In other words, any state could effectively legalize virtually any form of gambling for the entire country, whether we like it or not.

Ready or not, nationalized gambling, here we come.

So much for states’ rights.

All of this foolishness began when a group of cash-strapped pro-gambling states (such as Obama’s home state of Illinois) got together to begin lobbying the administration to “reinterpret” the Wire Act, and on Christmas Eve, when most people were too busy to notice, Obama came through.

A number of states are looking to use state-sponsored interstate gambling (such as lotteries) as a quick fix for their budget woes — further exploiting the poor as well as those who are addicted to gambling, while not having to deal with the negative societal costs in those states (crime, bankruptcy, abuse and divorce come to mind).

Aiding this process seems a little odd for someone who has spent so much time accusing Republicans of wanting to balance budgets on the backs of the poor, but Obama’s administration is making it easier for states to do just that.

And it didn’t take long for them to get started: Illinois sold its first online lottery ticket in May — and announced that it intends to become a global hub for online gambling.

History demonstrates that once a government gets dependent on gambling as a source of revenue, it does whatever it can to expand that revenue — meaning that it works to draw in more suckers with more addictive games. (How many rich people do you wait in line behind at the gas station playing any of those 50 different scratch-off games?)

Despite the U.S. ban on financial institutions processing funds from online gambling, it is a $30 billion industry — which tells you all that you need to know about why big-spending state governments want in on the action.

But private-enterprise gambling won’t take kindly to state governments moving further in on their turf. They’ll soon be lobbying (or suing) for the right to circumvent state laws and run virtual casinos too.

The genie will be out of the bottle, and online gambling will spread to every desktop, laptop, i-Pad and mobile phone. It will be a 24/7/365 casino that leaves state and local taxpayers to deal with the societal fallout.

If we have learned anything from the Internet revolution and the explosion of smart phones and mobile apps, it is that technology is limited only by the imagination, which means that any attempt to keep this change limited to lottery tickets is foolish at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst.

You don’t have to use too much imagination to envision Internet cafes featuring video poker via the Internet, or for that matter to see the familiar video poker machines back in their old locations, with the new twist that their games are delivered via the Internet. Actually, we’re already seeing that, by people who are ignoring our state law. Obama’s new interpretation of federal law could make it impossible for us to stop them.

Congress has to take a stand and defend its own laws (and the states’) against the Obama Justice Department’s view that they don’t mean what everyone knew they meant for decades.

South Carolinians almost lost their government to gambling interests once. We can’t let that happen again.

Mr. McKissick runs a Columbia public relations business; contact him at drewmckissick

© 2012 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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[posted 30 July 2012]