Congressional ban on US online gaming would be “wrong”, says Oxley

11th March 2014 9:52 am GMT

Former US Representative Michael Oxley, co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, has warned that a congressional ban on all online gaming would be the “wrong policy” to protect American consumers.

Oxley said that the recent talk about Congress banning online gaming was a topic that he dealt with while serving as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee several years ago.

“The question isn’t whether or not Americans are participating in online gaming,” he wrote in a blog post for The Hill yesterday. “The consumer base is in the millions, and the revenue is in the billions on overseas black markets. The question is whether Congress banning all online gaming would make consumers more or less safe on the internet.”

Oxley said that American families, including children, would be “less safe” online should Congress pass this ban.

“The risk of exposure to identity theft, fraud, even money laundering on an unsafe, unregulated, overseas black-market website is serious. And ignoring that black market, rather than addressing it will only make us less safe,” he claims.

Oxley represented Ohio's 4th Congressional District from 1981 to 2007 and, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, he co-authored the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which enacted sweeping regulations of publicly traded companies in the aftermath of the Enron scandal. He is co-chair for the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection.

Prior to serving in Congress, he was an FBI agent. He says that based on his experiences at the FBI, he believes that the proposed ban on online gaming “would do nothing to stop the billions of dollars flowing through these black-market websites, which are often run by individuals the Justice Department says are engaged in serious criminal activity.”

“Prohibition of that type didn’t work with alcohol, and it won’t work with the internet today,” he warned.
Oxley said that a ban would “roll back” the only consumer protections that currently exist, citing the experience of Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, who have all put in place consumer protections that prohibit minors from playing and ensure the games are fair.

“These states are using modern age-verification technology to prohibit minors from using gaming websites, and highly sophisticated geo-location technology to precisely determine a potential player’s physical location and thereby prohibit out-of-state gaming in legal and regulated markets,” said Oxley. “These sophisticated technologies have proven successful in existing regulated markets for online gaming and other online commerce. Congress shouldn’t step in and stop their use.”

He urged his former colleagues in Congress to keep American consumers and online activities safe, by choosing the “right path and reject this misguided ban.”

“Congress cannot reverse time or get rid of the internet,” he concluded. “We need to be focused on keeping consumers, businesses, and families safe when engaging in online activities. That means utilizing the best available technology and the best safeguards, not blocking their use.”

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