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Online gambling bucks could help cash-strapped governments 0

BOB MACKIN, 24 HOURS

A Florida lawyer who specializes in Internet law predicts cash-strapped governments in the U.S. could legalize online gambling in a bid to raise revenue.

Lawrence Walters, who spoke Friday at the American Bar Association spring meeting in the Vancouver Convention Centre, said the Democrat majority in Washington, D.C. is unlikely to repeal or revamp the sweeping 2006 anti-Internet gambling law. However, intrastate, online poker games could stem the flow of money to offshore operations and help fill government coffers.

"The first aspect we're going to see is individual states legalize some form of Internet gambling," Walters said.

Law professor Ed Morse of Creighton University in Nebraska said politicians could sell such gambling expansion as job creation and economic development amid the recession. The social cost of gambling, however, "tends to be hidden."

"The Internet model allows revenues to be exported and costs to be imported," Morse said.

Only provincial government monopolies such as the B.C. Lottery Corporation and its licensees can offer gambling in Canada.


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