Jacob Sullum
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The prevalence of problem gambling among all past-year gamblers (excluding lottery ticket buyers) was 1.3 percent. Does that mean "gambling online is several times more addictive" than other forms of gambling, as Thomas McClusky of the Family Research Council claimed at the House Judiciary Committee hearing?

Not necessarily. It could simply be that people who are inclined to gamble heavily are especially attracted to online gambling. Notably, the overall rate of problem gambling in the United Kingdom remained unchanged between 1999 and 2007, despite the rise (and legalization) of Internet wagering.

In any case, it's plain that one cannot safely draw any conclusions about the usual experience of online gamblers from the story of the minister's son who robbed a bank to support his poker habit. According to Duke, the average online poker player spends about $10 a week, in exchange for which he has some fun and sharpens his skills.

"For the majority of Americans, playing poker is a hobby," Duke told the House Judiciary Committee. "They should have a right to choose how to spend their discretionary income, whether it be on poker or anything else." They do not expect to become poker champions, and they should not be treated like bank robbers.

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Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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