Online poker bill poses concern for addicts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Online poker bill poses concern for addicts

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A bill that would legalize online poker in Iowa is making its way through the state senate this week.

Some legislators said regulating the internet poker industry could mean revenue for the state.
Gambling counselors said the possibility has them concerned.

"Addiction is a disease, and we're going to bring that in their home?" Connie Sprimont, Problem Gambling Counselor at Substance Abuse Services Center in Dubuque, said.

"There are many people that can gamble responsibly. There are people that can gamble and treat it as a form of entertainment that it should be. However, there are many people that cannot."

She said she worries legalizing online poker could make gambling more accessible for people with an addiction.

"I'm just worried that, you know, when they go home and they have the internet right there, they're not going to be able to control that addiction," Sprimont said.

Proponents said people can already play unregulated poker online.

"There really is no policy for it. All of the operators that are currently providing online poker are not from the us. They're operating from places from throughout the world, and there is no regulations or standards or assurances of perhaps getting paid," Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, said.

He said legalizing online poker could make it taxable and more of a safe bet.

"It could be offered by the casinos and regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, that would then put forth the rules, the standards and uphold the integrity that people have come to expect with games that are offered within the casinos," he said.

The bill is still in the senate this week and could undergo changes before it goes any farther.

The current proposal would allow those 21 and older to play online poker *anywhere within Iowa's borders, as long as they register with the regulated poker site.

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