ONLINE GAMBLING: ACTIVISTS FEAR SOCIAL, ECONOMIC COSTS

 

 

To many of Maryland’s gamblers, it won’t matter if or when slot machines arrive.

The spell of the Internet already gives them the opportunity to bet when they want – sometimes illegally – on Web sites from the privacy of their home.

 

“For me it’s pretty relaxing,” said Craig, an Annapolis resident who declined to give his last name.

 

The 27-year-old said he plays online blackjack through CasinoFortune.com once or twice a week in 90-minute sessions.

 

“I do other things at the same time,” he said. “It’s sort of therapeutic in a way.”

 

Anti-gambling activists fear that the estimated 1,800 Internet gambling Web sites target a younger generation comfortable with computers and people who don’t want to leave their homes for a trip to a casino.

 

“Young people would be the victims of online addiction,” said Barbara Knickelbein of Glen Burnie-based NOcasiNO-Maryland. “Many senior citizens may find it user-friendly. On rainy days you don’t have to go to Dover.”

 

The Rev. Byron Brought, senior pastor at Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis, compared Internet gambling sites to pornography Web sites – both of which are hard to regulate or monitor.

 

He said he’s opposed to all forms of gambling, but he suspects Internet gambling would be more addictive because gamblers can do it from home.

 

“There are absolutely no restraints,” the Rev. Brought said. “You can run up a humongous bill. You could bankrupt yourself very quickly.”

 

The General Accounting Office estimated $4 billion was wagered online in 2003, a figure expected to reach $6.3 billion by the end of last year. Learn about เว็บคาสิโน ไม่ผ่านเอเย่นต์

 

Under the 1961 Wire Act, meant to ban sports betting by telephone, it’s illegal to operate a online gambling Web site in …