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A Silly Sports Rebuttal of Senator Kyl's Claims

28 March 1998

While surfing the web recently in search of news stories on the Kyl bill and similar issues, I stumbled upon the Jon Kyl home page. Like any good elected representative, his entire site is a myriad of self written articles detailing his achievements, and all with the same message.....HEY BOYS AND GIRLS, LOOK WHAT I'VE DONE FOR YOU!...

One article concerns his pending anti gambling legislation... the Internet Gambling Bill. Of course, I had to read it. And the only thing which kept me from falling out of my chair laughing was that the fact that this legislation actually stands a pretty good chance of passing. In keeping with the In-Your-Face style of Silly Sports, I've decided to address each of Mr. Kyl's concerns/passages....a rebuttal, if you will. (like he's really listening and he really cares!?). The passages below in quotes are direct quotes from the article on his home page, and no words have been changed to protect the innocent....

"Gambling on the Internet" by U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

Senator Kyl... "Did you know that $600 million was illegally gambled on sporting contests over the Internet last year? That is a ten-fold increase in this criminal activity from just a year earlier, according to the Department of Justice. Numbers like that support the prediction by law enforcement that "cybergambling" on the Internet will be a multi-billion dollar industry by the year 2000 -- unless we can pull the plug."

Silly Sports... Senator, did you know that since the early 1980s, estimates of sports betting in this country run into billions of dollars, in some cases, hundreds of billions of dollars? Most of it takes place outside of Nevada and therefore most likely falls into the "illegal" category. What does that suggest to you? Who is placing these bets? Illegal Aliens? Maybe aliens from outer space? No! It's done by American citizens who simply want to bet on sports. And while no one can say for sure how many people are involved in this activity, I've read estimates that say 6 out of every 10 people have at one time or another placed a bet in their lives and that an estimated 20 million Americans gamble regularly on sports. And no one has even hinted at the millions of office pools that flourish during the football season! So, if "cybergambling" becomes a multi billion dollar industry in 2 years, what the hell is the problem? Sports betting is already a multi billion dollar industry! Why not make it legal? Aren't the American people saying, by their actions, "Hey! This is what we want???!!!" So then Senator, why aren't you listening to them?

Senator Kyl..."As the country enjoys watching the NCAA men's basketball tournament over the next few weeks -- and as we follow the progress of our Arizona teams -- it is a good time to remember why sports organizations and communities have chosen to place tight restrictions on gambling."

Silly Sports... players themselves shouldn't gamble. It's a matter of ethics. 99.99% of the athletic community as well as 99.99% of the betting community would agree on that point. As far as why sports organizations and communities are so hell bent on preventing everyone else from gambling, the answer is much less ethical....it's because THEY DON'T GET A CUT!

Senator Kyl..."One need only look so far as ASU and the recent point-shaving controversy there to see the terrible effect sports gambling can have on the integrity of sporting contests and, more importantly, on the lives of the players who get caught up in it. (In that incident, apparently, at least one of the players had racked up considerable gambling debt and agreed to "work it off" by changing his level of play."

Silly Sports... I guess you're a bit embarassed because one player on a team from your home state got caught doing something that he should n't?! Take heart and breathe easy senator. One bad apple won't spoil the bunch. Athletes know that they might as well write their lives off if they are caught in this kind of activity. And yes Senator, I'd have to agree with you when you refer to the "lives of the players who get caught up in it". This athlete's life is indeed ruined...but he made the choice!. As far as the bookmakers are concerned, most bookmakers with a 3 digit IQ would never dream of interfering with an athletic contest. It is, quite simply, bad for business. If the public loses faith in the integrity of sports, it isn't going to bet on them. In fact, most bookmakers keep in touch with one another and are quick to report "action" which seems unusual...Finally, consider the number of athletic contests, pro and collegiate, played in this country every year and then consider the number of incidents like the ASU scandal. The percentage is too small to measure. And, if you really are concerned with "tampering", why on earth would you want to keep sports betting illegal? I would think you'd want it regulated and out in the open, where any type of tampering can be more easily observed?!

Senator Kyl..."Gambling on campus is not just limited to some athletes. Law enforcement has testified that organized crime has established student gambling rings on nearly every major college campus. In fact, the NCAA compares student gambling to the problems schools faced with alcohol and drug abuse and date rape in the early 1980s."

Silly Sports... DATE RAPE??!...the NCAA is putting "gambling on campus" in the same category as date rape???? REALITY CHECK.....gambling is consensual....date rape is not!!!...next item!

Senator Kyl..."Given the proficiency with computers exhibited by today's young people, gambling over the Internet provides the opportunity for organized crime to introduce itself to even more students. That is the very fear of FBI Director Louis Freeh, with whom I have discussed this problem."

Silly Sports... "Proficiency with computers exhibited by today's young people..." Sounds like you don't even know where the 'on-off switch' for the thing is. And organized crime doesn't need a computer or the internet to "introduce itself". Organized crime has made billions in sports betting operating in places that don't even have an electrical outlet. And if you succeed in banning internet gambling, you'll simply drive those folks who were betting over the Internet back into the arms of the organized crime people. As far as Louis Freeh having this "fear"...I hear there are a lot of good therapies out there for people with phobias. Please remind Mr Freeh that no one has said that the 6 offshore companies recently targeted are affiliated with organized crime. In fact, 5 of the 6 have sterling reputations in the offshore betting community. If you really were concerned with "crime" of any sort in this industry, you would have gone after the more disreputable companies, and there are quite a number of them.

Senator Kyl..."Gambling can also have some terrible consequences for families and communities. The Council on Compulsive Gambling says that five percent of all gamblers become addicted, and that 90 percent of that group turn to crime to finance their habit, 80 percent contemplate suicide, and approximately one in five actually attempt suicide. We all pay for those tragedies."

Silly Sports... Agreed. I can attest to such things, having seen them on both a personal and professional level. However, state sponsored lotteries don't seem to care about the "consequences of addiction". At least it didn't appear that way the other morning as I observed a disheveled-looking little old lady at the head of the line in the card shop buying over $40 worth of lottery tickets, all the while obsessing over which numbers she wanted and whether she wanted the damned things "straight" or "boxed".

Senator Kyl..."Last week, prosecutors in New York indicted 14 individuals for operating illegal sports gambling enterprises over the Internet, the first federal prosecution of this new crime. "

Silly Sports... it isn't a "new" crime senator. Offshore betting has been available for almost 7 years now. For the first few years, it was done exclusively by phone. More recently, the internet has become an additional mode for this "new crime". So Senator, here's a question for you...if the Justice Dept thought this activity was illegal all along, why did it wait 7 years to act?

Senator Kyl..."In addition, I have introduced legislation that would extend the current law's prohibition on sports gambling to all forms of Internet gambling, including the electronic "virtual casino" games currently being offered. My legislation would also update the law so that prosecutions like the one in New York can still occur, even after the In ternet begins using new technologies like fiber optics and satellite transmission of data."

Silly Sports... Here's where you're confusing me. The Justice Dept. has filed complaints against 6 companies. Last time I checked, you can't swear out complaints or indict someone unless you think they've broken the law. If you think they've broken an existing law, why the hell do you need more legislation? Or are you implying that the case in New York isn't going to hold water, that they will be thrown out of court, and that you will then use that as an excuse to get your silly law passed???

Senator Kyl..."Experts have also said that gambling over the Internet enhances the addictive nature of gambling because it is so easy to do (you don't have to travel to Nevada, you can just log on to your computer), it can become part of a daily routine, and it can be done from the privacy of your own home. One professor has described electronic gaming, like the type being offered in the "virtual casinos" on the Internet, as the "hard core crack cocaine of gambling." Dr. Howard Schaeffer of the Harvard Center for Addictive Studies, predicts within ten years youth gambling will be more of a problem to society than drug use."

Silly Sports... "Crack Cocaine"???....well, what did you expect from the guy?!... He's head of an "Addictive Studies" center!! May I point out the following....first, gambling is a consensual activity. Second, gambling, as in sports betting, is legal and is taxed in 37 other civilized countries...to my knowledge though, those countries haven't legalized crack!?... Third, if you really agree with Mr. Schaeffer, then why don't you outlaw ALL gambling, ie, race tracks, state lotteries, Indian casinos, power ball, etc. Remember I told you that I'd had personal experiences with people who were compulsive gamblers? Most gambled away their lives by going to the race track....an activity that is legal and sanctioned in most states.

Senator Kyl..."My bill has broad bipartisan support from law enforcement, family and consumer groups, amateur and professional sports, and many members of Congress. We hope to give the Senate the opportunity to vote to pull the plug on Internet gambling before summer."

Silly Sports... Your "broad bi-partisan support" comes primarily from groups like the existing casino industries who don't want the competition from online sources. The term is "lobby", senator, and there are some of us out here who've heard of it. Your "broad support" also includes the professional sports groups and leagues...who don't get a cut of the action. It includes state governments who have their own "legalized" gambling...lotteries, horse racing, etc, and who don't want the competition. And, like it or not, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you unknowingly had the tacet blessing of organized crime, which has traditionally controlled the multi billion dollar illegal betting sub culture in this country. They don't like competition any more than the casino industry or any of the others do. "Family Groups"? "Consumer Groups"?...face it Senator, your primary concern is not these groups...you are fanning some of their worst fears in an effort to cater to the interests of the powerful lobby groups.


Some Closing Thoughts....

To those folks who scoff at the possible passage of this legislation, my advice to you is DON'T! This bill has some powerful forces behind it, and I'm not talking about the Christian Coalition or the various "Family Groups" either. There is a lot of sentiment within much of the legalized gaming industry for the passage of this bill. The "morals" issue, the "addictive" argument, the "minors gambling away the family savings" argument?.....I am beginning to think they are smokescreens, nothing more. The more I delve into this thing, the more I become convinced that the real issue is not morals, but dollars and cents. The growth of offshore betting is seen as taking money away from state-sanctioned sources. In addition, there is a fear among folks in Nevada and New Jersey that online casino-gambling is going to keep people home and away from Atlantic City and Vegas. Casinos on Indian land also contribute mightily to state coffers, so, one would guess that they are at risk as well, (though a few enterprising Native Americans have taken to the web themselves!) The bottom line is unwanted competition. Most of these groups have professional lobbyists, (there's that "L" word again!) and they are not adverse to using them to protect their interests.

There has been much speculation about the language of the Kyl bill itself. In some forms, it appears to target not just those who take bets, but those who deal in gambling related information over the phone lines, and hence over the Internet. If it passes in this form, it could spell the end for Silly Sports and a host of other small sites on the Web. Brian Hood's Bookies Hell, Oddswiz, Wizard Mike, Bucks Unlimited and countless others would go down the tubes. Of course, we don't have a lobby group...(oops! the "L" word again!?), but we, like the larger groups, also seek to protect our interests. However, if that happens, you can still take heart. I predict that you won't have to worry about the various sports betting newspapers not being available on the newstands. Come July, you can join me as I order my yearly round of books from Gamblers' Bookstore. You will still be able to walk into a card shop and purchase the Jim Feist football annual and countless others like it. You'll still see the Vegas Lines in all the newspapers and you'll still be able to order your favorite tout newsletter. Why do I think gambling information will still be available in print but not on the web? Because our brave senators would never dare take on the Publishing Industry!, who, if I'm not mistaken, also has a L_ _ _ y group!

Prediction?...ok, here it is......the Kyl Bill gets passed, sometime during the summer. However, the Supreme Court, while conservative from a morals point of view, is, as someone reminded me, even more conservative when it comes to constitutional issues. Eventually, the court proves to be our salvation by doing what should have been done a long time ago with this bill....throwing it out the window. All in all, a very messy and very wasteful scenario. Let's hope that this is one prediction that doesn't come true....let's hope that it's struck down and thrown out long before it ever comes to a vote. Let's hope that more people write their representatives to voice their dissatisfaction with this charade....and most of all, let's hope that the representatives decide to listen...

Wild Bill

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