The Department of Justice issued an opinion regarding Internet Lottery in September, but waited until two days before Christmas before making the announcement public. The new DOJ opinion not only legalizes Internet Lottery, but could open the door for other forms of gambling on the Internet such as poker, casino gambling, keno, bingo and video gambling.
There are many concerns about making gambling accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week on computers, wireless devices or cell phones. People could gamble at home and lose their house with a click of a mouse!
The age to gamble on the Lottery is 18! Expanding gambling on the Internet could lead to an increase in gambling addiction among teens and adults. A study of American, Canadian and international Internet gamblers found that 42.7 percent could be classified as problem gamblers.
Many poor people and children now have access to computers at home and at school. Internet age verification procedures used by alcohol companies have been ineffective in keeping anyone younger than 21 from going to their websites. Requiring a driver’s license number to gamble online will not prevent teens and computer-savvy individuals from gambling. There are already more than 8,700 people on the self-exclusion list at Illinois casinos, yet many continue to gamble. How will the Lottery be able to keep gambling addicts from gambling online?
How will the Internet Lottery website be secured to protect against credit card and identity theft by criminals and hackers? If the system is hacked, and the information is stolen, will the Lottery be forthright in informing the public?
Internet gambling will be done in isolation and easy to hide. Gamblers could rack up thousands of dollars in debt and cause great harm to individuals, families and society from bankruptcy, crime, family problems and suicide. This is not what voters envisioned when they approved the Lottery to help fund education.
When the federal Wire Act was passed, there were no state Lotteries, and casino gambling was only legal in Nevada. Call your congressman and Senators Durbin and Kirk (202-225-3121) and ask them to contact the Department of Justice for a thorough review and reversal of the opinion on Internet gambling.
Anita Bedell, Executive Director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems
From the Jan. 4-10, 2012, issue