JAN 17, 2019 12:00 PM
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In reversing an Obama-era decision that effectively allowed internet gambling, the Department of Justice has revitalized the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, an anti-gambling statute championed by then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to fight organized crime, said a University of Illinois expert who is a leading national gambling critic.
According to John W. Kindt, a professor emeritus of business administration at Illinois, the revised DOJ opinion, which was written in November but only became public on Monday, is a decision that ought to be applauded.
“It’s about time that the DOJ reinstated Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s Wire Act to fight organized crime and to protect today’s kids from the new gambling onslaught, which puts gambling on every cellphone and video game,” said Kindt, who has testified before Congress and state legislatures, including the Illinois Legislature last October, about the societal, business and economic impacts of decriminalizing gambling.
Under the 2011 opinion by President Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel, gambling interests were “fast-tracking real-time, 24/7 gambling on every cellphone or internet-connected device, marketing it as harmless fun for kids,” Kindt said.
The medical and psychological communities have determined that electronic gambling – particularly gambling on smartphones, tablets or internet-connected video games – is the “gateway drug” for creating new gambling addicts, Kindt said.
“When you’re gambling, the same areas of the brain are stimulated that are also stimulated when you’re using drugs like cocaine,” he said. “Due to their mental immaturity and sense of invincibility, children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the thrills of gambling and may find it particularly addicting,” he said.
In a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations last September, Kindt urged the DOJ to reverse the 2011 Office of Legal Counsel opinion.
Kindt is the senior editor of the book “The Gambling Threat to Economies and Financial Systems: Internet Gambling” and has published academic articles on the socio-economics of gambling and their attendant effects.