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Controversies about New Gambling Legislation

By Andrea Klein, Jun 25th 2007
Rev. Tom Grey, an opponent to gambling, was pleased by the hearings on Internet betting system. He believes that the bills being proposed to get rid of federal restrictions on online gambling will force presidential candidates to take a stand on the matter.

As the hearings for Internet gambling were spreading worldwide, during the annual National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference at the Rio, advocates from both sides of the issue debated it.

Grey, field director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, said during the conference that it must state the limits of the gambling otherwise it may become a phenomenon totally out of control. Further, he mentioned that is vital to know whether the gambling must be wide-open or hard-core because it’s only a matter of time until other legislators would lift a ban on nonsports online betting.

In his vision, the bills will only force political candidates, including the Democrats and Republicans running for president, to take a public position on the topic. On the other hand, he underlines that the congressional hearings are "driven by self-interest" organizations such as Poker Players Alliance. Many consider that the organization who claims 550,000 members is looking to profit from the online gambling industry.

Michael Bolcerek, president of Poker Players Alliance, replied that Internet gambling is "good public policy" that would allow state and federal governments to regulate the industry. Thus, he sees the new movements as a win-win situation.

In time, Bolcerek has held managerial positions in technology companies including Oracle Corp. and a homeland security technology startup. For him, Internet technology is an accessible way to let regulators restrict minors from gambling online.

Other issues debated include the transparency of online financial transactions and methods to help the problem gamblers.

Council President Steven Geller mentioned the organization currently opposes online gambling because of concerns about how tightly states would be able to regulate the industry within their borders. This led him to affirm that states should be able to decide on their own what kinds of gambling are legal in their states.

At the convention are 190 members state legislators, gaming regulators and law enforcements from around the country.

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