Researcher warns of online gambling luring kids

Associated Press Modified: October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am •  Published: October 25, 2012
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WESTBROOK, Conn. (AP) — Online gambling is making regulation more difficult, luring children to gambling and introducing new types of problem gambling, a British researcher told a conference on Thursday.

Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, told a few hundred participants at a conference sponsored by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling that technology will make gambling more accessible as gamblers turn to online sites and avoid casinos.

And children may be too trusting of websites and mistakenly believe that points they win on social network sites can be cashed in for money, he said.

"How do we legislate stopping children from gambling on Facebook from home?" Griffiths asked.

U.S. laws prohibit Internet gambling across state lines. But after the U.S. Justice Department last December narrowed the application of the federal Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only to sports wagering, several states began taking steps to allow online betting.

Chuck Bunnell, chief of staff for external affairs for the Mohegan Tribe, which owns the Mohegan Sun casino in eastern Connecticut, told the conference that a federal approach to regulate online gambling is preferable to a "patchwork of 50 different regulatory systems across the country."

Hundreds of online sites that now operate do not verify a gambler's age or provide other safety features, he said.

Don Feeney, research and planning director at the Minnesota State Lottery, said despite the popularity of online gambling, surveys show reluctance among some players who say they are concerned about the legitimacy of websites, security, the presence of professional players and providing financial information.

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