Online Gambling

McGill Also Found That 90% of Congressmen Talk Out of Their Asses

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Last month the House Financial Services Committee rejected a bill co-sponsored by Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) that would have blocked Treasury Department regulations aimed at preventing online gambling. Speaking against the bill, Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus, the committee's ranking Republican, explained that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the law that requires the regulations, is all about saving the youth of America from a potentially lethal addiction. "McGill University found that one-third of college students who gamble on the Internet ultimately attempted suicide," he averred. He added, "That is why the rate of suicide on our college campuses has doubled in the past 10 years."

In a belated response to Bachus' startling claim, the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, an industry group, cites McGill University gambling and addiction researcher Jeffrey L. Derevensky, who says:

This assertion, which is reportedly based upon our empirical research, is not predicated upon any factual evidence. None of the studies conducted with adolescents or college students, to the best of my knowledge, have looked at a connection between Internet wagering and suicide attempts.

In a June 25 press release, Bachus revised his claim, saying, "A study by McGill University found that nearly one-third of teenage compulsive gamblers attempted suicide" (emphasis added). That sounds a little more plausible, depending on how compulsive gambling is defined. But according to Derevensky, Bachus is still wrong to cite McGill research in support of his assertion. In any case, given that only 7 percent or so of online bettors qualify as "problem gamblers" (according to a 2007 survey by the British Gambling Commission), throwing everyone who has ever gambled online into that category is a pretty big mistake. Then, too, while Bachus said suicides on college campuses have doubled in the last decade, the CDC says suicides among 15-to-24-year-olds fell by 28 percent between 1990 and 2003, then rose by 8 percent in 2004 before falling by 3 percent in 2005, the latest year for which data are available (PDF).

You can watch Bachus rail against online gambling here. I explain why financial institutions are vexed by the proposed UIGEA regulations here

Addendum: Several commenters wondered whether Bachus is conniving or clueless. Last summer, after Radley Balko testified at a hearing on Internet gambling before Frank's committee, he described an exchange with Bachus that supports the latter interpretation.

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  1. The title said it all . . .

  2. How do you even begin to argue with that without starting with the phrase “I respectfully contend that my honored colleague from Alabama IS FULL OF SHIT”?

  3. How long before mr magoo becomes gov. of alabama?

  4. The really sad part is that while 92% of wagers are placed in casinos and sports venues and only 8% are placed in state lotteries, the total government revenue breakdown is 18% for casinos and 82% for lotteries (source). So the same entities that fuck up gamblers (in particular those who should gamble the least) are trying to limit competition. Not too surprising, but very sad nevertheless. Especially sad that so many potential voters don’t see through this deception…

  5. How do you even begin to argue with that without starting with the phrase “I respectfully contend that my honored colleague from Alabama IS FULL OF SHIT”?

    But then, those C-SPAN cameras would be worth it.

    Shit, C-SPAN2 occasionally airs English Parliament. That shit is *legislating*; Congress are rank amateurs.

  6. one-third of teenage compulsive gamblers attempted suicide

    “I’ll bet you a hunnert bucks I can jump off this roof, and not get hurt. Here- hold my beer, and watch this.”

  7. Is he talking out his ass, or deliberately lying?

  8. I’ll bet a study of teenage attempted and successful suicides would show that 75% had either been rejected for a date or couldn’t get a date like other teens. We need a Federal dating czar who would require teens to accept dates with anyone who harbors suicidal thoughts.

  9. Is he talking out his ass, or deliberately lying?

    He’s talking out of his deliberately lying ass.

    Oh, and I just got back from San Diego. How are you fucking idiots doing, anyhow?

  10. Sorry, Creech.

    You still won’t be able to get laid.

    Runs

  11. Ah, the same old sweet-talking Jamie!

  12. Barney Frank is my Rep, and although he is pretty much a socialist, I am proud to have him.

    Aside from Dr. Paul, he is probably my favorite politician. I disagree with his economic views, but I suspect he actually uses commonsense, reason, and a respect for others rights in his decision making.

  13. If you were going to use regulation to protect teens from gambling addiction, wouldn’t it make more sense to require credit card companies to stop giving credit to high-risk borrowers?

  14. We need a Federal dating czar who would require teens to accept dates with anyone who harbors suicidal thoughts.

    AMERIWHORE! Kerry’s suggested response to reports that Seung-Hui Cho couldn’t get laid.

  15. Oh, and I just got back from San Diego. How are you fucking idiots doing, anyhow?

    We are even more fucking idiotic than before.

  16. You say all these statistics like they mean anything. Look at the fatality rates for, say, marijuana — or ephedra. It has nothing to do with risk of death; it has everything to do with control. All the rationality and logic in the world are meaningless when stacked up against the desire of politicians to control and manage.

  17. “It’s for the children”* appears to have replacad patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel. Gambling online needs to be banned, for the children. State lotteries need to be advertised, for the children. It’s Bizarro world out there.

    * Which apparently now includes 18-22 year olds.

  18. Is he talking out his ass, or deliberately lying?

    I wonder the same about certain posters here. See the eminent domain “discussion”.

  19. Oh, and I just got back from San Diego. How are you fucking idiots doing, anyhow?

    San Diego has some good things going for it. I assume you visited the best Zoo and nicest urban park in the world while you were there. I liked my time there.

    This fucking idiot went to the Arab-Chaldean festival downtown this weekend. It was fun. Nice of you to ask.

  20. I’m looking for Max Bachus.

    — We don’t have names here.

    He’s an American.

    — We are all natives of the world.

    He likes to bend over and pretend to talk out of his rear end.

    — Oh. Him. This way.

  21. “one-third of teenage compulsive gamblers attempted suicide”

    One third of people with a gambling problem, not gamblers supposedly commit suicide.

    My question is when are we going to ban women, because many people with women problems commit suicide too?

  22. I spent the weekend in St Louis, if anyone cares. Got to see Aaron Miles hit the walk off grand slam yesterday. I got to make a Starship Troopers joke when I saw the ejection bays, I mean tram cars, to the top of the arch. I had been in St Louis before but had never gone up in the arch. The transportation museum is cool, if you are into trains. And, more on topic, the casinos wont let you buy more than $500 in chips per 2 hour period.

  23. J —

    He was a guest speaker at the University I attended, and I came away fairly impressed.

  24. Oh, I also got crappy free beer at a club that looked like a more real life version of the bloodbath scene from Blade.
    We left before the sprinklers kicked on.

    Insert and appropriate fuck somewhere too. To stay on topic.

  25. McGill? WTF? I may be wrong here, not having read the study, but why are we using Canadian research to determine US policy? Is it relevant across national borders? Or are those damn Quebecois social researchers stealing jobs from the social sciences graduates of America! How can this be tolerated by a Republican? Aren’t they supposed to be the Party that wants to stop frostbacks from stealing our jobs? Goddamit! I’m practically incoherent with rage right now!

  26. J | July 21, 2008, 2:45pm | #

    Barney Frank is my Rep, and although he is pretty much a socialist, I am proud to have him.

    Aside from Dr. Paul, he is probably my favorite politician. I disagree with his economic views, but I suspect he actually uses commonsense, reason, and a respect for others rights in his decision making.

    He is what a liberal should be. For another example, he also recently wrote and sponsored a bill decriminalizing pot.

  27. A Study by the 915 Institute found that nearly 1/3 of all gamblers wish that Rep. Bachus would attempt suicide.

  28. A study by the U. S. Bureau of Health and Human Services reveals the following:

    Until boys and girls are 9 their suicide rates are identical.
    from 10 to 14, the boys’ rate is twice as high as the girls’.
    from 15 to 19, four times as high.
    from 20 to 24, six times as high.

    We can thus logically deduce that being male is the cause of most suicide in this country, and should therefore make it illegal to have a penis.

    What’s scary is I think my reasoning is a bit more sound than that of Mr. Bachus.

  29. “McGill University found that one-third of college students who gamble on the Internet ultimately attempted suicide,” he averred. He added, “That is why the rate of suicide on our college campuses has doubled in the past 10 years.”

    Oh sweet jeebus… yeah, the last suicide we had on the campus I work for was TOTALLY due to his online gambling addiction…

  30. He’s not crazy. He’s in the pocket of the banking industry.

  31. Spencer Bachus is my representative. I can tell you his mindset is very basic. He thinks that gambling is morally wrong, and evil, and he wants to keep people from doing it. He probably does think that the children need protecting from it, but really he would be fine with banning it for adults too, because it is just wrong. Here in Alabama, the believers think nothing of imposing their preferences on everyone. I don’t think it even occurs to them that there might be a freedom issue involved. That never even enters the equation. It is just assumed that you should ban things that you think would offend god. So you hear our officials supporting blue laws preventing Sunday alcohol sales by saying “Sunday is the Lord’s day, so we won’t allow that”. This is considered a vote-winning statement. It doesn’t even occur to them that they shouldn’t impose their sabbath preferences on everyone else. Same for gambling.

  32. ac2b

    IOW: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

    We’ve all heard that sentiment before.

    You and your fellow Alabamans* have my sympathy.

    *The ones with brains, that is.

  33. Oh, and I just got back from San Diego. How are you fucking idiots doing, anyhow?

    Jamie Kelly was in town for Pride weekend?

  34. “McGill University found that one-third of college students who gamble on the Internet ultimately attempted suicide,” he averred. He added, “That is why the rate of suicide on our college campuses has doubled in the past 10 years.”

    Reminds me of a “study” on breast augmentation and a link to suicide. No mention that a person that seeks such surgery may have other issues that won’t be cured with augmentation.

    Bravo McGill. Once again you have shown yourself to be at the forefront of logical deduction. Please, in a future study, compile data on whether the subjects ate bread as well. There MUST be a link there somewhere.

    Say it loud and say it proud – Correlation does not equal causation.

  35. Why am I not surprised that this ass-talking lying politician is of the Republican side of the aisle?

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