Content Curated By Darin R. McClure & a few photos


More Americans Than Ever Are Free to Gamble
March 4, 2013, 10:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

More Americans Than Ever Are Free to Gamble:

America is a much freer place
than it was a few decades ago, and one way you can tell is that
changes once considered unthinkable now occur almost unnoticed. A
case in point came when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a
bill to legalize online gambling.
Atlantic City casinos, which now offer various games on site,
will now be able to provide them to patrons at home or wherever
else they have access to a computer. New Jerseyans will be able to
play the slots without getting off the couch.
Doesn’t sound like such a big deal, does it? But 40 years ago,
there was only one way to take part in casino gambling: Get in your
car or board an airplane and go to Las Vegas. For decades, Nevada
was the only state where it was allowed.
Why? Because gambling was regarded as disreputable, the seamy
habit of criminals, hustlers and lowlifes. Many people thought
entering a casino was the first step on the road to
self-destruction. So governments generally made gambling
illegal.
To anyone who grew up since then, all this may sound bizarre.
The casino-goer you know may be your strait-laced grandmother.
Today, 38 states feature casino gambling establishments, including
those on Indian reservations.
Nearly 60 million people — 1 in 4 adults — visited these
places in 2011, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
The industry now accounts for almost 1 percent of the national
economy.
Legal gambling is all around us, and it’s only going to become
more ubiquitous. New Jersey is the third state to allow online
betting, after Nevada and Delaware, and others are sure to
follow.
The Obama administration spurred progress in 2011, when the
Justice Department abandoned its position that federal law
essentially prohibits online gambling. State lotteries, of which
there are 43, may now sell tickets beyond their borders.
Legal restrictions can only do so much, regardless. In the
digital age, policing online gambling is only slightly easier than
curbing online pornography. In the debate over legalization, says
Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell, “always looming in
the background is instant access to overseas casinos.”
For the gambler determined to circumvent the law to wager from
the comfort of home, he told me, “there’s some hassle, but you can
do it — and not get caught.” A survey commissioned by the AGA
found that 4 percent of respondents already take part in online
gambling.
That black-market competition is one reason the casino industry,
which once opposed Internet betting, has gotten behind it. Better
to provide it themselves, even if it means many players will stay
away from casinos, than to let unregulated foreign operators corner
the business.
The industry’s support for change is a mixed blessing, as the
New Jersey measure illustrates. Gamblers would have to establish
accounts with casinos, and industry officials “expect the state to
require gamblers to have to appear in person at a casino to open
their accounts and verify their age, identity and other personal
information,” reports The Associated Press. A rule of this kind
would serve to get patrons in the door, where they may be induced
to buy food, drink and tickets to a show.
The new law also requires participants to be physically in New
Jersey to place bets, at least for now. What lies ahead is far from
being a wide-open, consumer-driven business. Still, it’s a far
better deal for customers than being denied a legal avenue to
Internet betting.
Drastic change hasn’t happened overnight, and it won’t start
now. But we have seen a steady, gradual process of opening up
freedom in this particular realm — a process that is not about to
end.
That’s because as more and more Americans have encountered legal
gambling, they have discarded the exaggerated fears that once
blocked it. The vast majority of patrons, it turns out, don’t
become compulsive gamblers, don’t blow the rent on blackjack and
don’t desert their families.
Bringing a casino into a community is not likely to set off a
wave of crime or social decay. Neither is allowing it in the
home.
Attitudes that took years to change are not about to turn
around. At a casino or a racetrack, you can’t be certain of winning
any wager. But in the policy arena, the continued expansion of
legal gambling is as close as you can get to a sure thing.


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