Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz contributes to Inaccurate Newsweek Piece

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Newsweek ran an article about how the US Department of Justice’s reinterpretation of the federal Wire Act supposedly opened the floodgates to online poker.

The Newsweek article implies that the DoJ’s opinion that the Wire Act of 1961 only covers sports betting will usher in widespread US online gambling. And it draws heavily from the opinion of Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who drafted anti-internet gambling legislation this year.

Chaffetz, who’s received funding from Sheldon Adelson, uses child gambling as a scare tactic to push his point across. “Many parents already can see how easy it is for a kid to get addicted to a video game that does not involve money,” he said. “You put them on the Internet and they are gambling with money, now you have a real problem.”

While Chaffetz is entitled to his opinion, one site had a rebuttal to his comments in the Newsweek piece. OnlinePokerReport wrote the following comments about Newsweek’s reliance on Chaffetz:

9. Do you just think everything Jason Chaffetz says is true?

Next up, another hyperbolic generalization from Chaffetz is presented, unchallenged, as fact:

“In the physical world of bricks-and-mortar casinos, it’s easy to see a 13-year-old on a casino floor. On the Internet, there are no physical barriers, nothing stopping a child from becoming an addict,” he says.

Again, the dialogue surrounding problem gambling and underage gambling online is an important one that should be had. But that’s not what Goodman’s interested in.

We get no balance. No competing quotes from operators or regulators or folks from the multi-billion-dollar online identity verification industry.

We also get no context. For example, underage gambling happens quite a bit in land-based casinos. Turns out there are some ages between 13 and 21. Who knew?

The Newsweek article is just the latest milestone in a war that’s been brewing in the US between online gaming and anti-internet gaming interests. Sheldon Adelson represents the latter since he’s aiming to completely abolish iGaming in America. However, he faces stiff opposition from Caesars, Boyd Gaming and other casinos with a stake in internet gambling.

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