Senate committee addresses internet gambling issues

U.S> Capitol in Washington

The growth of online poker and e-gaming were the words of everyone’s lips in Washington this week, following the meeting of a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.

Held on Wednesday July 17th and chaired by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, the summit was seen as an opportunity for law-makers to openly-discuss the various issues surrounding online gaming in the States.

McCaskill opened the frank discussion on this most divisive of topics, admitting that while some governors may be open to the idea of expansion as a means of increasing state revenue, they were failing to address the wider issue of consumer protection.

Backed up by Republican Senators Dean Heller and Roy Blunt along with Democrat Brian Schatz, she pointed to some of the familiar concerns surrounding online gaming and whether it could be effectively monitored and controlled.

“Gambling, whether bingo or blackjack, has long been regulated by the states,” McCaskill stated.

“But does a patchwork of state regulations adequately protect consumers? Can it protect against underage or problem gambling?”

Among the other concerns pointed to in the opening statement, was a worry over the exploitation of online gambling for money laundering and the funding of other criminal activities.

Meanwhile, the testimony presented at the meeting offered a variety of perspectives on the ongoing debate, with Presidet of Catholic Advocate Matt Smith among the most vocal in his opposition of any change, expanding on many of the aforementioned concerns.

“We urge bi-partisan congressional action to restrict the imminent expansion of online gambling throughout the states, lotteries and off-shore operators,” he said.

“Federal restriction of online gambling is vital, urgent and consistent with recent congressional intent.”

Others, like Attorney Jack Blum pointed to the previous link between gambling and the organised crime of the 1920s and 30s with National President of the Fraternal Order of Police Chuck Canterbury following a similar tact in calling for the introduction of a stricter regulatory framework.

There were some positive notes for those keen to see a relaxation to the online gambling regulations though with Thomas Grissen the CEO of biometrics and identity assurance software firm Daon, outlining some of the effective identification methods available to online users.

In particular, the technology expert was keen to point to the ease of use and simplicity of application that these new security measures would offer to smartphone users and online account holders.

Whether this argument is enough to persuade those in power to implement change remains to be seen, with no legislation on the subject currently in the Senate and two House of Representatives’ bills still up in the air.