Lawmakers consider legalized internet gambling
BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday about what some see as an inevitable choice; whether to definitively legalize or outlaw internet gambling in Louisiana.
A joint criminal justice committee of lawmakers had many questions and concerns about internet gaming's effects on existing brick-and-mortar casinos in the state.
"People have been gaming on the internet for a number of years," said Ronnie Jones, chairman of the state Gaming Control Board. "And all that money is not protected and some get defrauded out of it. In addition, whatever revenue the state might receive is going away."
Those in the gaming industry testified that Internet gaming should be legalized and may actually increase interest in gambling overall.
"You're physically taking people from land-based casinos," Rep. Austin Badon D-New Orleans said to representatives from Caesar's Entertainment. "Casinos are fine with that?"
The committee talked about privacy issues and underage gambling risks with a shift to online legalization. Those who help with gambling addiction said more regulation could be a good thing for compulsive gamblers, helping to bring in more money to fund the fight.
"With state regulation, we not only generate revenue, we generate jobs and generate control," said Reece Middleton, from the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling.
Lawmakers will continue looking into the issue. Three other states already have legalized online gambling.