Big Lottery: Will the Internet increase problem gambling? this image to visit the Problem Gambling page at the National Council on Problem Gambling.All forms of Internet gambling used to be illegal, but a Justice Department ruling late last year opened the door to it. Now, a state can approve playing its lottery online, selling tickets over the Internet. Do you think that’s a good idea?

Legal online gambling might increase participation, especially from younger Americans, and generate more tax revenue and more funds for government programs like education. We know from our discussion this week that the Internal Revenue Service is the big winner in the lottery, and that the lotteries haven’t rescued education. But a surge in participation might help.

If you oppose online gambling, you have plenty of company. More than six of ten Americans (61%) oppose online state lotteries, according to a poll last year by Rasmussen Reports. Older Americans are more opposed to it than younger Americans.

Internet gambling, such as the online sale of state lottery tickets, might increase the number of problem gamblers. The National Council on Problem Gambling defines the affliction as “all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, ‘chasing’ losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.” The Council estimates that about two million Americans are pathological gamblers, and four to six million more are problem gamblers.

The worry is that these numbers would increase with Internet gambling. The reason what’s called “speed of play.” It refers to the time between placing a wager and getting a response. For some people, fast speed of play is addictive. Online gambling could aggravate the problem by making the speed of play even faster.

Do you support or oppose online gambling?

Would you want your state lottery to offer ticket purchases online?

Would the benefits of online gambling outweigh the costs?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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