Focus on the Family gambling analyst, Chad Hills has written in Citizen Link, which is an extremely prejudiced, right wing Christian publication, that followers should review facts regarding the UIGEA and its impending demise.
The problem with this desperate appeal by Mr. Hills is that he does not provide all the facts, more importantly, those he does present are vague, biased, and incomplete. Some are downright lies.
First, Mr. Hills claims that in 2006, U.S. citizens illegally exported $6 billion dollars to unknown, unaccountable foreign online casinos. Mr. Hills makes no mention that many of these publicly traded, highly recognized online casinos, which are licensed, taxed, and regulated in their country of origin, are operating legally. These companies have fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to provide a legal product, with accurate reporting and record keeping insuring that all income and expense is booked, audited and published.
Mr. Hills states, “The loudest and most desperate voices, however, seem to be coming from abroad,” citing the many countries that belong to the World Trade Organization that are trading partners with the U.S.
With that declaration, Mr. Hills fails to inform his readers that the reason these countries have filed compensation claims against the U.S. is due to treaty violations. Treaties signed in good faith by the United States and 149 other countries regarding the services sector of the WTO general services agreement (GATS). The U.S., found guilty through hearings and appeals to be in violation of its agreement to provide access to Americans related to online services, has since decided to withdraw its commitment by modifying and removing this area from the GATS. This maneuver by the U.S. prompted other members to file claims for losses, current and future, they are entitled to recover.
Mr. Hills also said, “An internet gambling news site exposed an interesting statistic, indicating that probably more that 70% of internet gambling operators have a prior arrest record.”
Yet, Mr. Hills does not name the site, or how the study was conducted. Nor does he explain that a majority of these operations are duly licensed, regulated and publicly traded, reputable companies.
Mr. Hills cites that Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist that took down the rights hero, Ralph Reed on money laundering charges, wanted to have internet gambling legalized. This is an outright lie. Jack Abramoff heavily lobbied to restrict online gambling to protect the interests of his Indian clients. Congress has given Abramoff exactly what he wanted by making the UIGEA law, and it was done by your congressman lying to other members of congress, saying this was a way to put the Abramoff era behind them.
Mr. Hills lists several talking points for you to relay to your representatives in support of not repealing the UIGEA, among them
“Internet gambling holds catastrophic potential for organized crime, funding terrorist and laundering money.”
Truth is that without regulation, the United States has opened the door for this to occur. With regulation and over-site, all internet gambling will be monitored to insure that only legitimate organizations are allowed to conduct this type of business.
Mr. Hills, misquoting a study done in 1977 by The National Gambling Impact Study Commission said, “Approximately 7.9 million adolescents have a problem or pathological gambling addiction.”
Truth is that study found that in estimates of American ADULTS that gamble is 125 million. Based on information available to that committee, 117.5 million American adult gamblers do not evidence negative consequences; it also estimates that 7.5 million adults are either problem or pathological gamblers. The study further states, “Because a comparable estimate of American adolescent gamblers has not been determined, there is no reliable way to calculate the number of adolescents who gamble without negative consequences.” Clearly, Mr. Hills is trying to inflict fear into some parents that follow Focus on the Family, with inaccuracies.
Mr. Hills makes the claim that “already, gambling addiction with adolescents and on college campuses is at epidemic proportions.” There is no reference as to where Mr. Hills obtained his information; therefore, it could only be assumed that he has inserted his flawed thoughts into this section. A Harvard study completed last week, studied 40,000 subjects and found that 0.4% may have a problem. This is hardly epidemic.
Mr. Hill says, “Taxpayers and the federal government should not be burdened with the monitoring of thousands of separate, foreign gambling sites for corruption, illegal activities, or jeopardizing homeland security.” Our position is the same. We believe that by its actions, the UIGEA, in fact does create a situation where taxpayers and the federal government are burdened by this law. It is now incumbent on the federal and state governments to try to find such operations, and bring them into conformity with the ban by arrest, prosecution and possible long-term detention, causing an unnecessary amount of money and manpower to meet this end. Federal courts, which are heavily tasked already, will have to make room on their dockets to hear and decide on these issues.
In his last talking point, Mr. Hills writes, “Effective and strong regulations are necessary to ensure that the online gambling industry does not infiltrate millions of homes, destroy children, ruin families.”
We agree. Effective and strong regulations regarding internet gambling would include rules that monitor underage gambling, problem gambling, money laundering. Without such regulation, the internet is open to those that prey on precisely these people.
After reviewing all of Mr. Hills comments and statements, fact checking his facts, one can only conclude that Mr. Hills and Focus on the Family are using their reach to millions of undereducated, uniformed followers to promote their own agenda, which in our view is contrary in many areas to the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution.