Letter: Gambling on the Net

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The Independent Culture
Gambling on the Net

Sir: The Trade and Industry Select Committee's report on e-commerce ("MPs call for Internet equality", 10 August) shows a lack of interest in an important feature of the Internet. The main concern expressed about the social aspects is that the Internet should be available to everybody.

Indeed, the government has indicated that it wants access to it to be provided in every school. Yet there are more than 1,000 unsupervised gambling sites, many of which are making huge profits providing access to the harder forms via credit card payment. Although all such transactions are illegal in licensed premises, these gambling sites are accessible via Internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK. There are strong indications that these sites are particularly attractive to children.

Inadequate gambling controls in the Sixties led to organised crime involvement and an upsurge of pathological gambling which could only be dealt with by draconian measures. Clearly, the lessons have not been learnt.

The Internet can be a very valuable resource, but it urgently needs supervision. A statutory regulatory body, which would license ISPs, could ensure that the misuse is stopped. The Internet has been referred to as the information superhighway. Regrettably, there are far too many superhighwaymen.



National Council on Gambling

London N14