Internet Gambling Blossoms As More U.S. States Consider Legalization
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
In Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware, the word gaming might mean something different. Online gambling - or iGaming, as it's now called - is legal in those states, and the industry may be poised to grow. Several states are considering legalizing it, and now you can ante up using PayPal.
Joining me is Sue Schneider. She's editor-at-large for Gaming Law Review and Economics, and she's been an advocate for iGaming since 1995 back when it was known as Internet gambling. Welcome to the show.
SUE SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
MCEVERS: Paypal's announced that they're now going to allow people to gamble online. Can you explain how important is it that that's going to happen?
SCHNEIDER: It is a significant thing here. In the late '90s, this was really the predominant iGaming market. And then with a congressional ban on Internet gambling, particularly through the financial transactions in 2006, that's when you saw things really clamped down on any kind of iGaming in the U.S. So the fact that there are now three licensed states and additional ones considering it and the likes of PayPal getting back into it, it's just signaling some potential for growth in the market here.
MCEVERS: Do you feel like PayPal being involved also gives some kind of legitimacy to gaming now? People might be a little less, you know, furtive or shy about doing it online?
SCHNEIDER: I think that also helps. You know, it's a situation where because of law enforcement actions, because of offshore operators, people never really knew if they were going to get their money out. So the fact that there are licensed jurisdictions and you see the likes of PayPal does give it more credibility.
MCEVERS: I mean, there are opponents to iGaming still though. I mean, there's a bill that's currently in committee in Congress to stop all of iGaming, you know, to restore long-standing U.S. policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling.
SCHNEIDER: Actually, the irony of that particular piece of legislation is that the proponent behind it is Sheldon Adelson, who owns The Venetian and The Sands in Las Vegas and many operations throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. There are many, many people who feel like he's being a little disingenuous about it because he's apparently doing it, by his statement, that he's trying to keep young people out of Internet gambling. But the controls that are in place for age verification and geolocation to make sure you're in the state where it's legal are much more advanced than, I think, most people give it credit for.
MCEVERS: But I mean, some of the other big casinos are actually part of the iGaming industry. Is that right?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. You know, if you look at companies like MGM Grand and some of those, they either have been in it, are in now or are looking to enter. You know, they struggle to try to bring millennials and younger players into their casinos, so they realize that this is something that's going to blossom in the future.
MCEVERS: I mean, you talk about sort of the business reasons that people have for opposing online gaming. But, you know, there are people who have moral oppositions to it. Well, I mean, it's making it easier basically for people to lose their house if they, you know, play irresponsibly.
SCHNEIDER: The moral arguments are something that there's not really a lot that you can say about that. There are opponents out there - Senator Kyl, who's no longer there - was big on, you know, click the mouse; lose your house.
MCEVERS: That's Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona.
SCHNEIDER: But there are safety measures that can take place in iGaming. There can be loss limits to help protect people against over gambling. There are a variety of controls that can be put in place through electronic means that are actually even more effective than they are in the land-based world. You know, it ultimately gets into a sort of a libertarian argument that if somebody chooses to use their entertainment dollars doing this rather than going to a movie or going to a bar or whatever, should they be allowed to do that?
MCEVERS: Sue Schneider - she's the editor-at-large for Gaming Law Review in Economics. Thank you so much.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.