Former Senator Lincoln Returns to Spread Fear about Regulated Online Poker

Former Senator Lincoln Returns to Spread Fear about Regulated Online Poker

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) has taken a backseat recently as the regulated online poker market becomes increasingly more coordinated, and sports betting fever spreads throughout the United States. On August 19th, however, Blanche Lincoln, a former U.S. Senator from Arkansas (1999 to 2011), returned to spread Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) on behalf of her anti-online gambling master Sheldon Adelson.

Lincoln subsequently penned an op-ed piece for the Financial Times, and in her not so-subtle attack on the industry likened online gambling to terrorism, once more asserting an old, hackneyed view endlessly spouted by the CSIG during its more active years. Calling on Congress to overturn its 2011 opinion of the 1961 Wire Act that permitted individual states to determine whether or not to allow online gambling, Lincoln wrote in her FT article:

“The FBI’s 2017 Internet Crime Report revealed that the victim count and financial losses suffered as a result of online gambling surpassed that of terrorism-related cybercrimes last year. It is this clear pattern of targeting the helpless that stands out to me.”

Fear Mongering

Lincoln chose an appropriately emotive and fear-instilling title for her Financial Times post, calling it “Children and Addicts Need Protection from Online Gambling.” She then proceeded to present a misleading picture of the circumstances surrounding the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, the piece of legislation that eventually led to online poker’s Black Friday and the market’s collapse in the US.

According to Lincoln, UIGEA was overwhelmingly passed in the Senate by a vote of 98-0, inclusive of her vote, ignoring the fact it was actually attached to the SAFE Port Act, with the online gambling measure only added at the last moment and remaining largely unknown to Senators until after its passing.

She further stated that the DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act, which subsequently only applied to sports betting, “deprived minors and addicts of protection from the industry’s predatory practices,” clearly ignoring the high priority states’ place on consumer protection practices before choosing to legalize online gambling within their borders.

Terrorism Claims

Lincoln was also particularly selective in her presentation of findings cited in a 2017 FBI report concerning internet crimes. As she wrote in her piece, “the victim count and financial losses suffered as a result of online gambling surpassed that of terrorism-related cybercrimes.” What she failed to mention, however, was that there were
203 victims of online gambling-related crimes last year compared to 177 terrorism cybercrimes, with gambling losses amounting to a mere $19,000, according to CardPlayer.

By contrast, lottery-crime related losses totaled a massive $16.8 million. Nevertheless, Lincoln made no mention of banning lottery states in her misleading and hypocritical article, perhaps because the hugely lucrative industry was worth a massive $73.3 billion last year, including $176 million generated online.

No Longer a Federal Dictate

Adelson, the CSIG, and politicians like Blanche Lincoln are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to online gambling, with progress likely to continue regardless of the amount of money donated by lobby groups and those looking to disrupt the industry. That should have been made clear by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May, thus signalling the federal government’s withdrawal from dictating gambling legislation to individual states.

Since then, Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi have joined Nevada in offering gamblers located within their borders the full package of sports betting options, with online sports wagering seen as an integral part of the industry’s ultimate success. According to a forecast made by research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, 32 states are expected to offer legal sports betting by the year 2023, resulting in a market worth $6 billion overall. Considering the huge appetite for sports gambling in the US, both live and in the online arena, maybe its time for Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling to stop flogging a dead horse, and finally admit that the odds of them enjoying any success on the issue are now well and truly stacked against them.