Online gambling ban benefits criminals

The Fraternal Order of the Police is committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those we serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation. No one knows the dangers and the difficulties faced by today's police officers better than another officer, and no one knows police officers better than the FOP.

As an organization, we are always looking for opportunities to make citizens safer, while improving officer safety.

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The first question we ask when evaluating any piece of legislation is: will this make our citizens and officers safer? And the answer to this in regards to a nationwide ban on all online gaming is an unequivocal no.

Currently, approximately 1 million Americans spend approximately $3 billion a year on illegal, black market online gaming. And we know, based on demand, this number is going to continue to grow significantly in the future.

Practically, this means millions of Americans are participating in a dangerous arena because:

·     The black market has no age verification to prevent children from playing

·     The black market has no requirement that operators be licensed to screen out criminals

·     The black market has no oversight to requires that games are fair

Not only does the black market for Internet gaming include no consumer protections, it also operates entirely offshore with unlicensed operators, drastically increasing the threat of identity theft, fraud or other criminal acts.  There is also evidence that these gaming sites launder money for organized crime and help to finance terrorist networks. It doesn’t take a law enforcement officer to know that an overseas black market that moves billions of dollars every year is a breeding ground for these transnational criminal organizations.

A national ban on all online gaming would just drive online gaming further and further underground and put more and more people at risk.

Furthermore, not only would a ban push more and more Americans into the black market, it would remove the protections that states like Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada have already put in place. Essentially, you are banning a well regulated system, in favor of an unregulated, unprotected, black market.

The solution is clear: we should maintain states’ rights to regulate online gaming within their borders and reinvest that revenue to make sure the systems are safe for all consumers.  This will also allow law enforcement the tools necessary to monitor and shutdown illegal activity and give consumers who may have been victimize a means of redress.

A national ban would literally take money away from police departments, schools and other critical services. That means less cops on the beat. Congress would force regulated gaming and lotteries to shut down in many states, creating holes in their budgets that they may have no other way to fill.

Finally, by having a well-regulated, well-monitored system for online gaming, people will be less drawn to illegal, black market sites which means a decrease in targets for criminals and less profit for their unlawful enterprises.

We want to keep our citizens and our officers safe. And the best way to do this is to drive black market online gaming into the light and scrutiny of a regulated system that is safe, fun and fair.

Canterbury is president of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

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