Online Gambling Is a Serious Threat

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has been a highly debated topic in recent months.  Forbes reported that daily games were projected to generate $2.6 billion in entry fees alone in 2015 while only paying out around $1 billion in contest prizes.  More concerning, is that 80 percent of bettors will lose about half of their money.

A few weeks ago, DraftKings, Inc. and FanDuel, Inc. lobbied the legislature to consider a bill that, if passed, would have made Daily Fantasy Sports legal in Wisconsin by defining it as a game of skill rather than a game of chance.  The passage of this bill would have opened a virtual casino on every computer and smart phone in the state, making it the single largest expansion of gambling in Wisconsin history.

Daily Fantasy Sports online wagering meets all of the requirements of the fundamental definition of commercial gambling.  It has consideration; it has a prize; and it has chance.  States across the nation are wrestling with these back-door attempts to legalize online gambling, and several states have declared Daily Fantasy Sports to be illegal online gambling (Vermont, Texas, Mississippi, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee).

In 2011, the US Department of Justice reversed its outright ban on internet gambling and left it to the individual states to sort it out as long they don’t permit online wagering on sporting events and competitions.  This reversal allows these companies to try to redefine gambling to fit their needs and circumvent the law.

Proponents of expanding gambling argue that the expansion is a way to bridge the gap in state and local government revenues, but proximity matters.  The closer the access, the more likely the addiction, and it cannot get any closer than in the privacy of our homes and smartphones.  Everyone becomes one click away from losing everything.  No cooling off period while you run to the bank or to the ATM.  Just a quick simple click in the heat of the moment, and BOOM!  GONE!

A big part of gambling addiction treatment is to change habits and avoid access to gambling opportunities.   Online gambling makes it possible to access gambling opportunities anywhere there is an internet connection and a smartphone, without public exposure.  The typical accountability measures used in addiction treatments are extremely comprised when online gambling enters the stage.

Wisconsin’s Council on Problem Gambling indicates that approximately 333,000 Wisconsin residents have a gambling problem – that’s a 329% increase since 1996.  This increase has a direct correlation to the expansion of casinos throughout Wisconsin.

Internet gambling is a bad idea.