Editorial: You Must Remember This, as Time Goes By

14 March 2006

Aussie contributor Glenn Barry joins us from a previous life. As a lottery consultant, he wrote for us when we published Rolling Good Times Online and during that time coined the term "nambling" by combining the words "net" and "gambling." Mr. Nambling read with interest yet another incarnation of Sen. Kyl making a run at prohibition, and just couldn't help himself, so here's his take on the latest wrangling in the U.S. Congress.

When Sen. Kyl and I were virile young men with no need for Viagra, and we were using 28K dialup accounts, the debate over Internet gaming began with Sen. Kyl leading the charge to ban this pure evil pastime enjoyed by many citizens of the USA--despite the insistence by the Justice Department that it is already illegal under US1084, the "Wire Act."

Over the years, Sen. Kyl has attached, glued, stapled, nailed, bolted, pinned and blue tacked his bill to everything from the Goldfish Protection Act to the Script of Star Wars III.

These days we are inundated with Viagra spam, phishing attacks on our bank accounts, credit card frauds, stock market pump-and-dump operators, Trojans, key loggers, etc.-- most of which, according to the Spamhaus Project, originate in the USA and target U.S. citizens. According to MSNBC, "In all, some 685,000 consumer complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission last year, with victims reporting losses of $680 million."

In the meantime, Sen. Kyl is still concerned that grownups are spending their own dollars on a sports bet, a little cyber casinoing or a poker game in places where it is legal to do so.

I figured one of the reasons Sen. Kyl has to introduce new bills all the time is that software and hardware have changed so much since his campaign started, his office no longer has a reel-to-reel tape reader and someone spilled a cup of coffee on the 5 1/4 inch floppy the back-up was on.

Think back to 1996, when Kyl made his first run at an anti-Internet gambling bill: A Pentium 166 MHz was state of the art, and most people were using Windows 3.1 on 486 chips. A 4-gig hard drive would have your friends swooning with envy, and you could even get a 56K modem (and if it worked even better). Of course, many of the current senior executives of the cyber gaming industry would be too young to remember this technology, so pop over to oldcomputers.net for a quick look at what we are going on about.

Now for 10 years, Sen. Kyl, by hook or by crook, has been trying to get his bill through. He has tried to attach the latest version to S2349, the Lobbying Reform Act--an act I gather that is needed to stop people paying politicians bribes to stop Sen. Kyl's bill getting through. (Cute one, Senator, at least you still have your sense of humor.)

Over the years, Sen. Kyl has attached, glued, stapled, nailed, bolted, pinned and blue tacked his bill to everything from the Goldfish Protection Act to the Script of Star Wars III.

In the meantime, what are U.S. consumers worried about? For a look at real complaints by real people that Sen. Kyl could be concerned about and should be working on, consider the Federal Trade Commission's 2005 report of most common crime complaints, ranked by percentage of total complaints:

  1. Identity Theft: 37% (compared to 39% in 2004)
  2. Internet Auctions: 12% (16%)
  3. Foreign Money Offers: 8% (6%)
  4. Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales: 8% (8%)
  5. Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries: 7% (5%)
  6. Internet Services and Computer Complaints: 5% (6%)
  7. Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home Plans: 2% (2%)
  8. Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection: 2% (3%)
  9. Telephone Services: 2% (2%)
  10. Other 17%: (12%)

Strangely I don't see any massive consumer concern about cyber gaming.

Had Senator Kyl been around when young Orville and Wilbur were turning bicycle parts into airplanes, we would have had the Kyl anti "Taking Airplanes to Exotic Places with Casinos" bill, and that, my friends, would have meant no Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick (my goodness, Rick ran a casino you could reach by airplane!) and no "Play it again, Sam."*

*Yes, movie buffs, I do know Rick (Bogey) said, "You played it for her, you can play for me," but it doesn't make for as interesting end to the story, and everyone thinks he did anyway.

IGN's Mr.Nambling is a gaming industry consultant and commentator with over 23 years industry experience, Glenn Barry has held senior management positions in Lottery and gaming operations around the world. His claims to fame include starting the first successful US Lotto in NewYork in 1978 and the NSW (Australia) in 1979.