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Casino Gambling on the Web and Other Legalized Gambling

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Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, it now is possible to gamble away your life savings without leaving the comfort of your easy chair, providing you have a computer with online access nearby.

Officials at West Virginia's Problem Gamblers Help Network have said that, on average, they expect to receive about one call a week from someone in serious trouble because of Internet gambling. "You can't go to the racetrack to play blackjack at 3 a.m. in your pajamas, but you sure can hold up in your den on the computer," commented the program's director, Mia Moran-Cooper.

Virtually any type of gambling imaginable is available on the World Wide Web. According to The Associated Press, there are more than 3,000 companies that allow casino gambling on the web. All they need are credit or debit cards and a computer with Internet access. There are no racetrack or casino personnel watching in efforts to spot problem gamblers and suggest that they may want to call it a night. It is possible to lose thousands of dollars without looking up from the computer screen.

We doubt seriously that there is anything West Virginia state government, or any private program, can do to prevent the increase in problem gambling that involves the Internet. In some ways it is not much different than gambling at racetracks and various "limited video lottery" outlets throughout the Mountain State.

But it is not too early for state officials to begin considering the effect Internet gambling may have on something else, state revenue. Legalized gambling now pours about $500 million a year into the state?s coffers.

Already there is concern about the effect legalized gambling in other states, most notably, Pennsylvania, will have on the number of gamblers who patronize racetracks and other wagering facilities in West Virginia. That could cut into state revenue substantially.

At this point, the effect Internet gambling will have on West Virginia's take from more conventional forms of betting isn't known. It may be miniscule, or it may be important. Again, it is not too early for state officials to begin considering the issue.

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