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Underage Gambling, Online Gambling Regulation and a Showboat

16 December 2010 by admin

What do those three have in common? More than you might think. Have you ever heard of some antic done on the part of a young person that made you shake your head and feel as old as your grandfather for saying, “Those young people!” The only older thing you could say would be “whippersnapper.”

Underage gambling is one such thing that has me shaking my head and coming this close to uttering “whippersnapper.” Back on September 15, 2009 the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey was busted for allowing three people between the ages of sixteen and twenty to purchase chips for one of their poker rooms. One of these kids managed to play two hands of poker before being caught while the other two had not even had the pleasure of playing a round of poker.

Now, a year and three months later, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission has finally settled the three cases of underage gambling. The Showboat Casino and Hotel has been fined $20,000 for the three cases of underage gambling.

Honestly this could not come at a worse time. Yes, the underage gambling happened over a year ago, but for it to hit the news right now—just bad. We are in the last days of the lame duck session in which Nevada Senator Harry Reid is trying to push through his biased bill for online gambling regulation.

I say biased because Reid’s bill would only allow casino businesses to apply for an online casino license if they have had a brick and mortar casino in operation in the U.S. for a minimum of five years. This effectively locks out all of the new casinos that opened within the last year, which is just dandy to the Nevada casino industry—which backed Reid in his narrowly achieved mid-term re-election run. So with all the new casinos locked out for a couple of years, the U.S. online casino market is pretty much open to the Nevada casino industry…and the Atlantic City casino industry.

What I want to know is why the New Jersey Casino Control Commission decided that right now was the best time to publically penalize the Showboat. Do not get me wrong, I am very much against underage gambling, and I do think that any online regulation needs to ensure measure to prevent underage gambling online. Underage gambling is one of the biggest pushes being used by those opposed to online gambling regulation.

So why oh why would New Jersey hurt the push for online gambling regulation when their casino industry would be one of a very small number of casino industries in the U.S. to benefit from it. With the online market in the U.S. being pretty much open only to the casino businesses in Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey stands to benefit from a market that the citizens are demanding and in which they would not have a large amount of competition, thanks to the five years of operation stipulation.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has effectively handed the opposition another tool: why should we trust any sort of preventative measures to stop underage online gambling when we cannot even stop it from happening in a brick and mortar casino, in person?

So thank you, New Jersey and thank you, you three underage gamblers, you just made it harder for online gambling regulation to happen. Understand that I am shaking my fist at you and am this close to calling you “whippersnappers.”

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