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Congress warned against online gambling ban

Feb 17, 2014 7:10 PM

While the late Sonny Bono’s ex-wife, Cher, retains her relationship with the gaming industry by occasionally appearing at Caesars Palace on the Strip, another former wife, ex-Congresswoman Mary Bono, has become an advocate for Internet gambling.

Bono, now senior vice president of FaegreBD Consulting, after having lost her re-election bid last year, has issued a statement, through the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, warning that “Congress should tread extremely carefully before it even thinks about banning lawful activity on the Internet.”

Although a strong supporter of Congressional approval of Internet gambling, the theme of her warning was the fear federal action would ban Internet gambling completely.

“There are many reasons why Congress should not ban Internet gaming,” she wrote, “but three in particular stand out: It would block common-sense consumer and online protections for the most vulnerable, including minors; it would trample on state and individual rights, and it would put Congress in the position of banning technological innovations the public has already widely embraced.”

She complains a ban would do nothing to block “an unsafe black market for Internet gaming to continue to thrive.” She said it is estimated one million Americans spend nearly $3 billion annually on illegal and unregulated gaming sites.

Also, a ban would have serious effects on states that currently permit online gaming and would interfere with the many states that are contemplating joining them.

“A ban would put Congress in the unenviable position of trying to legislate away both specific activity on the Internet and popular technological advancement that the public has widely embraced,” she wrote.

“The effort to ban Internet gaming is misguided but it also may draw attention to the real issue: How do we break up the billion dollar black market to ensure consumer and online protections are in place for the millions of Americans who choose to play games online?”

Bono’s efforts were aimed at offsetting a major campaign, financially supported by Las Vegas Sands’ chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, which seeks to not only curb any Congressional effort to legalize online gambling but to actually ban it.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki heads a number of prominent people in the group called Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling that has been making public appearances to promote their message. They also have launched video ads to underscore the theme. 

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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