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Glenn Barry


11 August 1996

I once worked for a Federal Attorney General...quite an experience it was too. In a few months after his election, he changed the divorce laws completely, frightened the daylights out of business with new consumer protection laws, used the feds to raid an office of the Crime Commission and used an Air Force F111 to spy on a state government dam-building project. An all-around wild man. At least he liked to bet on the ponies (although he was prone to follow tips given to him by lawyers). From this, I learned that Attorneys General can be good at law but real dumb elsewhere.

That was evident in the recently released report on Internet Gambling by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) which now graces the pages of Let's take a closer look.

Executive Summary

The report lacks credibility from almost the opening line. "The availability of gambling on the Internet, however, threatens to disrupt each states 'careful' (must be an"in" AG joke!) balance of it's own public welfare and fiscal concerns, by making gambling available across state and national boundaries, with little or no regulatory control." In English, this means "someone is after our money and we don't know how to stop them."

The second point that gives away how ill-informed they are and how little research went into this knees up is the statement

"There are hundreds of gambling-related sites on the Internet; dozens are being added monthly."

O.K. AG's, where are they?!

Give IGN a list and we will publish it. Give me the list and I will go visit the sites and write a stories about them for IGN readers. Some dummy has typed "gambling" into a Netscape browser and has come up with "hundreds" of hits on key words. Example: I will go to search right now as I write and key in gambling.

Here are the results: Gambling

Infoseek		5,686
Yahoo			149
Lycos			7,604
Magellan		2,705	
Excite			63,923

How many of these are Internet gambling sites? Very few. Try it if you don't believe me.

Take the statement "there are hundreds of gambling-related sites on the Internet." This is intended to imply that here is a real threat and we need a big budget allocation and hundreds of staff to look into it, not to mention study trips around the world (the Bahamas would be nice this time of year). There are hundreds, no thousands of gaming-related sites in the real world. If every legalized form of gaming site had a home page to promote themselves on the net, there would be a few hundred thousand worldwide. Search with a keyword and you will hit them all.

In paragraph 5, the truth comes out...a little. "There are currently only a handful of Internet casinos and sports book operations which are operational." This should have been the opening sentence of the report. Instead they try to imply that Internet gambling is a huge operation threatening state revenue and the social fabric of society. The truth is, it is "early days" and many sites are struggling for reasons we have explained elsewhere in IGN.

Another classic line "it is extremely easy to take advantage of the opportunity to gamble on the Internet." This stunning piece of deep intellectual insight seems to ignore new high tech devices such as the telephone and the fax. The writers of this report are trying to create a "now" threat when it is still a "maybe." This is politicking, not studying and reporting.

Let me tell you, it ain't easy. You've got to buy a computer. You've got to find a service provider. You've got to learn Netscape. You've got to learn to browse. You've got to wade through pages and pages of 'Net noise to find a site to gamble. You've got to have a credit card. You've got to register. You've got to play (and that is damn slow).

Easy. What is easy is jump in my car, go to the shopping center put on a bet at the OTB and a lotto at the agent's, pick up a couple of scratchies, ring my sports book from my car phone and get set for Saturday's game. Get some numbers on at the bar, hit the video lottery and the pull tabs while I have a drink. That's easy.

The Net may well become a place to gamble for a few percent of the population and those who want to gamble but don't have an outlet because of state and national policy. It will become an information source for people who are interested in gambling. It will provide an opportunity for people with similar but unusual gambling interests to make a market. All of this can be done now without the Net.

Here is another gem "Via the Internet an individual in a private residence in Hawaii could place a bet on a sporting event using a booking-making service located in United Kingdom." (Introduction , par. 2).

OK all you action-hungry Hawaiians, don't wait for the Net to be connected to your PC, here is the PHONE NUMBER for William Hill Bookmakers, +44 171 705 5450 For those of you who are comfortable with high technology, here is their FAX NUMBER +44 171 281 7968. You can even bet using modern high tech, high speed, flying machines, by sending your bet AIR MAIL to 1/5 Morris Place, Finsbury, Park London N4 3TF England.

Another one I like is this heart renderer (again from Introduction par. 2) , "A minor in Wisconsin, using a credit card removed surreptitiously from a parent's wallet or purse, might be able to play a slot machine on a Caribbean Island." Can you believe this? My kid would go to the Caribbean if he could get his hands on my credit card. He would probably use my bank cash card to get money to hit the video game parlor if he knew my pin number. This is a pathetic attempt to generate emotion to color the facts and is unworthy of a "serious" report with the implied approbation of the Attorneys collective.

It comes down to money. What they are worried about is 'will some state or country offer a better deal to the consumer, lower taxes, greater percentages to the prize pool?' Now, that might make a difference. It might hurt the money milk cows gaming represents to governments.

The Internet will not undermine the existing structure of the gaming industry, legal or illegal. Competition will, just as the Gee Gees have suffered from the increase in lotteries and casinos, some will be popular, some will decline. The technology for cross border sales exists. Every existing lottery and OTB terminal can, with the flick of a switch, connect to any betting operation in the world. (Metaphorically) In Hong Kong Intertoto in 93 we were playing German Lotto on a demonstration terminal.

If this report is the best a collection of US Attorneys General can come up with as a discussion paper, then legislators and state Departments of Finance and Revenue officers would be better off reading IGN. We'll tell you when net gaming represents a threat to your money machine.

N.A.A.G. REPORT C.R.A.P. is republished from
Glenn Barry
Glenn Barry