Getting It Wrong On PA Online Gambling Again: Some Newspapers Just Don’t Get it

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I wrote about the oft-cited misconception that online gambling legalization is an expansion of gambling after two overly skeptical editorials appeared deriding the legislature’s efforts to pass an online gambling bill. This week a third paper made the same mischaracterization, and it’s common for the state’s newspapers to blast the idea of online gambling. It even went a step further, invoking fears of the long-debunked myth of cannibalization. What this newspaper says about online gambling The new editorial makes the same mistake as its predecessors, as the Delaware County Daily Times echoes the thoughts of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Lehigh Valley Express Times. The editorial board falsely believing the legalization of online gambling in Pennsylvania would authorize something that doesn’t currently exist, and somehow increase access to a form of gambling everyone in the state already has access to. The editorial board for the DelCo Times states: Getting it wrong on iGaming again As I noted in my rebuttal from last week, this line of thought just doesn’t pass the smell test. A person living in Pennsylvania can gamble online from the privacy of his or her own home today, with or without the state passing a bill to legalize online gambling. Wherever you currently live in Pennsylvania, you can go online and start gambling. All legalization would do is:
Institute much needed consumer protections;
Place the industry in the capable hands of the state’s land-based casinos;
Allow the state to benefit from taxing the industry;
Bring the industry under the regulatory sway of the state’s gaming control board. But wait, there’s ‘cannibalization’ too But the DelCo Times also goes a step further, insisting that online gambling will not only increase access to gambling, but that it will cannibalize the state’s existing casinos: No one ever seems to mention what might happen next, and what kind of effect – and decreased revenue – such a move would have on existing casinos if people no longer have to get off their own sofa to visit a casino. Many, in particular Harrah’s right here in Chester, are struggling now. We would imagine the thought of online gaming might not exactly be music to their ears. Someone should tell the editorial board that this theory has been debunked, and the notion Caesars would be against PA online gambling legalization is absurd. Despite the baseless speculation of the DelCo Times editorial board, the owner of Harrah’s Chester, Caesars Entertainment, is not concerned about cannibalization. It has stated many times at Pennsylvania hearings how beneficial online gambling has been to their properties in New Jersey. In April of 2015, Michael Cohen, the senior vice president and general counsel of Caesars Interactive, testified in front of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee that the “practical effects that we have seen is it has not cannibalized our business. If anything, it has enhanced our bricks-and-mortar business.” He repeated the company’s line in a Senate hearing. Old and tired arguments about online gambling Maybe if these editorial boards attended some of these hearings (or at least read some transcripts), they would have a better understanding of the impact of online gambling. Instead, they just trot out old arguments that have long since been discredited. And maybe they’d be able to avoid the embarrassment of making s statement such as: “Many, in particular Harrah’s right here in Chester, are struggling now. We would imagine the thought of online gaming might not exactly be music to their ears.” That same property’s parent company is pushing for online gambling legalization because it has helped bolster their business in New Jersey. Message to DelCo Times editorial board: It is music to their ears! Harrah’s Chester wants online gambling. And while Harrah’s may be down, most Pennsylvania casinos doing just fine, with eight straight record months. One does not have to look very hard to see how Caesars feels about online gambling legalization, but why bother looking, or reaching out and asking, when you can just guess? How does the saying go? Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

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