Commercial protectionism and political cynicism aside for a moment, what does the much-maligned Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act actually do to address the problem of addictive gambling? Not a lot, it appears from comments this week by the Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gaming, Keith Whyte.
Speaking to Poker News Daily, Whyte observes that the UIGEA and its supporting regulations are a politically designed measure, crafted to cut off funds for gamblers. However, these regulations fail to address the root causes of problem gambling or to allocate any of the millions spent on the law's introduction and implementation to the worthy cause of responsible gambling research, education and treatment.
With the opponents of online gambling placing so much emphasis on the alleged potential dangers of the pastime, Whyte's comment is worth noting.
Characterising the UIGEA, Whyte said it was like cutting off money for people who drink - the controversial legislation doesn't address the root cause, and none of the funding allocated to enforce the regulations is prescribed for problem gambling.
Whyte also fired a broadside at the Kentucky state government of Governor Steve Beshear, recently condemned to infamy for his attempt to hi-jack 141 international domain names belonging to online gambling companies. Despite the millions made from Internet and racecourse wagering in the state, less than $250 000 a year is apparently allocated to tackling problem gambling!
That amount is probably less than the budgets devoted to responsible gambling measures by the reputable companies Beshear is attempting to seperate from their domain names.
Whyte makes a good point when he says: "It's better than nothing, but if online poker sites could stand up and say that Kentucky only does that and we do other innovative things, then maybe the court of public opinion would embrace it."