Newsweek: Obama Administration Legalizes Internet Gambling, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand

Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the Department of Justice opened a Pandora’s box in 2011 when it reversed 50 years of legal precedent by legalizing online poker and slots.

Reports Newseek’s Leah McGrath Goodman:

So far in the U.S., the online gambling phenomenon is still new enough that only a handful of states have had a chance to approve it and roll it out. Nevada and Delaware—two states that have already teamed up over online gambling, sharing users and territory—and New Jersey have led the way, offering real-money gambling through websites and apps that can be downloaded straight to smartphones.

“This is just the beginning,” predicts Jason Chaffetz, a Republican representative from Utah, the only state other than Hawaii that prohibits all forms of gambling, even the lottery. “I am afraid that if we don’t move quickly and get some decent regulations in place, which we really don’t have right now, it will be too late to stop it from reaching all the states.”

Chaffetz is wary of claims that geolocational technology, which works better in cities than in rural areas and vast expanses of desert (due to their reliance on hot spots and cellular towers to triangulate players), can keep poker out of his state: “Many parents already can see how easy it is for a kid to get addicted to a video game that does not involve money. You put them on the Internet and they are gambling with money, now you have a real problem.”

Chaffetz, a 47-year-old father of three (ages 21, 18 and 13), is one of the shrinking pool of politicians—Republican or Democratic—who do not rely on money from the gaming industry to fund his political activities. This past July, he wrote a letter (signed by 17 other representatives) to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, calling for hearings as soon as September on the nation’s “policy on the expansion of gambling” to ensure it is “established through legislative process.”