Shelley Berkley Asks For Study of Online Gambling by the National Academy of Sciences

by Lou on May 5, 2007

I’m hearing from sources everywhere that Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley introduced a bill proposing an independent, 12 month study of online gambling by the National Academy of Sciences. There has been talk about the coming of this bill for some time now, but until yesterday, I was unaware of when it might be introduced.
Reports I’ve read and knowledgeable sources told me that the bill already has the support of 60 other members of Congress, including Frank LoBiondo, John Conyers, and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank.

The idea of a study by the politically independent National Academy of Sciences is the position recommended and favored by the American Gaming Association, the organization that represents the big, land-based casinos, such as MGM Mirage, Caesars, Bellagio, the Wynn—all the big players.

Berkley does not take sides on the issue of online gambling. Instead, her proposed legislation calls for an unbiased look at online gaming, as well as technologies for excluding underage and problem gamblers. Berkley said, “One of the advantages of this legislation is that it doesn’t take a side. It doesn’t say Internet gambling is good or bad. It says ‘Let’s study the issue.’”

This approach offers an advantage to any legislator looking to get out form under the insanity of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that was rammed through in the middle of the night, with no debate, after being attached to some must pass port security legislation. Congress can vote to study the issue without doing a flip-flop on first voting for UIGEA and then voting against it. It also offers a middle ground of sorts for legislators unwilling to support Barney Frank’s legislation.

Once the study is complete, Congress can prop themselves up against the National Academy of Science’s study and use it as leverage to reverse their earlier, ill-considered decision to support UIGEA. I’m hoping all of this will come to pass right after the next presidential election. Time will tell.

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