eGR North America: Fighting federal prohibition

February 17, 2014

By Martyn Hannah, eGR North America

Kristen Hawn, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, tells eGR North America why it is fighting against a federal egaming ban.

Currently a significant push is happening to make Congress pass a ban on all online gaming that would have far-reaching, negative impacts not only on American families and consumers, but also states and businesses across the country.

A congressional prohibition like this simply doesn’t work.  Just like the prohibition of alcohol, a prohibition of online gaming would promote black markets that make consumers, including children, more vulnerable.

A congressional ban wouldn’t just block future consumer protections, it would actually take away existing protections from millions of Americans. Online gaming is already operating in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey with full consumer protections that keep children from playing and ensure the games are fair– a ban would revoke these states’ rights and roll back those consumer protections.

Some have argued that the only way to keep consumers safe is for Congress to pass a ban on all online gaming. They are simply not living in the real world.  These types of gaming sites already exist on a billion dollar overseas black market – a market that can contains no consumer protections and lies outside the reach of American law enforcement.

A congressional ban of all online gaming would allow these black markets to thrive and grow.  The bottom line is that we cannot just pretend that illegal overseas gaming websites do not exist. They do, and implementing a congressional online gaming ban will only allow them to grow, drawing in billions of dollars and threatening American consumers.

In addition to making Americans less safe, a congressional ban on all online gaming would also strip all states of their rights to decide what is in their own best interest. Currently three states – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – have implemented online gaming programs that, unlike black market sites, provide protections for consumers and produce revenue for essential state programs such as education and health care.

Simply put, states should not be told by Congress that they have to shut down those programs, blocking the consumer protections and taking away the revenue.

Finally, Congress and businesses cannot just put the internet back in a bottle. Technology continues to advance, and online consumer demand continues to grow. If Congress decides to ban all internet gaming, it won’t have their intended effect. Major retailers like Blockbuster or Tower Records tried to fight online consumer demand, and it forced them into bankruptcy. Trying to shut down technology that consumers have widely embraced simply does not work.

A sweeping congressional ban on online gaming will make us less safe online, will restrict our rights and won’t stop online demand. Congress needs to stay out of considering a ban of online gaming and get to work on issues that really matter to Americans.

The Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection launched a US $250,000 online and print advertising campaign against a federal egaming ban earlier this month. Members also include President Obama’s former 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, who now works for the American Gaming Association, and former California congresswoman Mary Bono.