Back in the early days of the Internet we had online poker. It seemed everybody was playing back before the sites were shut down as Ponzi schemes in late 2011.
Then there were “senior arcades” or “Internet cafes,” glorified electronic bingo that robbed seniors with mind numbingly low odds three times worse than the Florida Lottery for a jackpot of up to $5,000. They were making almost half-million dollars a month at each site until they were shut down by the FBI, ensnaring the Lieutenant Governor in a scandal.
In the last few years, “daily fantasy football,” a twist on sports gambling has begun to bombard the airwaves, promising winnings of up to $2 million in a game of “skill.” They claim to avoid the gambling label, for now, because you’re actually “competing” on how many points your hypothetical team scores based on how players did in various metrics in actual games. (get that?)
You pay anywhere from 25 cents to $1,000 to either win more or lose it based on factors beyond your control.
“It’s such a rush!” gush the commercials.
Bottom line, it’s gambling.
Now, the New York Times reported that employees were placing bets at rival sites using information not available to the public. A spokesman for DraftKings admitted to the paper that employees won large sums of money from betting on rival “instant” fantasy sites, up to $350,000!
He told the Times that they put a temporary ban on employees playing at other sites.
The reason we have these exotic, unregulated and predatory forms of gambling that rip off the public and cause more harm than a regulated, monitored casino is because legislators shutoff access to legitimate, regulated, and honest games.
It’s the equivalent of only allowing the bars in your community to exclusively serve alcoholics.
We’ve already chased out of the state the best bet that was on the table, but Florida still has an opportunity to make a real difference to reduce predatory gaming by granting Gretna’s slots license and allowing Palm Beach, Tampa Downs, and the other facilities whose counties’ voters have approved such games.
We have a unique window to let real, regulated gambling choke the business from the predatory hucksters that are ripping off our neighbors.
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