GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 8 - April 2009

WALL OF SHAME by J. Todd, Executive Director, APCW T he APCW’s Wall of Shame just keeps growing. In the last issue, we nailed the Grand Prive Casino Group, Russ Hamilton, Steve Bes- hear, and Spencer Bachus to the wall for their extraordinary efforts to bring down the indus- try that we work in and love. In this issue, we visit Europe to tack up two new hides to the wall. So as you read through, remember that the fight to preserve online gambling is global, and it’s ongoing. Enemies of the industry can and will pop up in the places we least expect them. So we have to be prepared to defend our industry, and carry the fight to all comers. Christel Schaldemose Charlie McCreevy, the European Commis- sioner for the Internal Market and Services, has been a true hero to the online gambling community. McCreevy has led the charge to end government monopolies of the gambling industry and allow online gambling firms to offer their services through- out the EU. But in one fell swoop, Christel Schalde- mose might have undermined all of those efforts. Schaldemose is a member of the European Parlia- ment. She is a Danish national and sits with the Socialist Group in the Euro- pean Parliament. Unfortunately, she’s the type of socialist that gives socialism a bad name. Schaldemose issued a report that would block the formation of a single market for online gambling in the EU. Although the report is nonbinding, it passed 544-36 and clearly reflects the view that most European nations do not want to open up their markets to the online gambling industry. “Member States have an interest and right to regulate and control their gambling mar- kets in accordance with their traditions and cultures in order to protect consumers against addiction, fraud, money-laundering and match-fixing in sports, as well as to protect the culturally-built funding structures which finance sports activities,” the report reads. As troubling as the vote is, the rampant hy- pocrisy in the report is even worse. Cloaked in the veil of protecting consumers and prevent- ing gambling addiction, this measure is about one thing and one thing only – protecting the sports betting monopolies that most countries enjoy, and the revenue they generate. Peruse the text of the bill and you’ll find evi- dence of that everywhere. Here are a couple of gems: “Whereas the revenue generated by govern- ment and government-authorised gambling activities is by far the most important source of income for sports organisations in many Member States…” “Notes that criminal activities, such as money- laundering, and black economies can be as- sociated with gambling activities and impact on the integrity of sports events; considers that the threat to the integrity of sport and sporting competitions impacts heavily on grassroots participation, a key contributor to public health and social integration; is of the opinion that, if a sport is perceived as the subject of manipulation for the financial gain of players, officials or third parties rather than played according to its values, rules and for the enjoyment of its fans, this could result in a loss of public trust…” Yep. They can bet on sports at Danske Spil be- cause THAT doesn’t affect the integrity of the game. But place a bet online and ‘Whoa, this match has been fixed.’ That’s just ridiculous. And that’s why Schaldemose is on the Wall of Shame. Church of England Hypocrisy is the reason the Church of England has earned a spot on our Wall of Shame. Earlier this year the Church of England, along with 40 MPs, called on Google to stop running online gambling advertisements in the U.K. And to a certain degree, it’s understandable why the Church of England would take this stance. The Church of England says it opposes gambling, online or otherwise, because of “the social damage caused by gambling abuse and misuse, which has tragic consequences for many families.” So in theory, supporting a ban on online gambling advertising makes sense. But while the Church is formally against gam- bling, it allows individual churches to accept money from bingo and lottery events. “Gambling is a legitimate leisure activity for many people,” says the Church in an ethics document on their Web site. “The Church distinguishes between the decisions made by individuals or individual churches on one hand who choose to accept monies from lotteries and bingo events, and judgements made by the Church as a whole in avoiding taking income from, or providing capital to, companies wholly or mainly involved in the gambling industry.” And that, my friends, is hypocrisy. It’s O.K. for churches to hold and profit from gambling events, but it’s not O.K. for people to gamble. And that’s why the Church of England is on the Wall of Shame. GPWA Times | APCW’s Wall of Shame