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Public Policy and the Inevitability of Internet Gambling

30 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2012 Last revised: 10 Oct 2012

Keith C. Miller

Drake University Law School

Date Written: September 25, 2012


The gaming industry is at a crossroads in the United States. The spectacular Las Vegas-style casinos that have dominated the scene for the last 50 or so years are being challenged by technology and the preferences of a new generation of gamblers. Internet-based gambling has developed at such a rapid pace that the question now seems to be not whether Internet gambling will expand, but when and how. Prominent among the questions presented by this development is whether the regulatory structure for Internet gambling should have its locus in the federal government, or should be left to individual states. As politically charged as this issue is, it assumes that because Internet gambling is (apparently) inevitable, no other justification or rationale for its legalization and regulation is needed. Yet, like all forms of gambling, Internet gambling has costs that need to be balanced against the benefits of its adoption. This article looks at one state, Iowa, where legislation to legalize Internet poker has been and will again be considered. Proponents of Internet gambling in Iowa have not offered persuasive reasons for why this form of gambling is in the best interests of the state. Ultimately, Internet gambling can be justified only by the revenue it may generate. But until there is a clear articulation of the potential financial benefits, and the societal risks, of Internet gambling, Iowans will be unable to make an informed judgment whether it should be legalized and regulated. The Iowa narrative is one that informs the ongoing national debate about Internet gambling.

Keywords: gaming, gambling, Internet, poker

Suggested Citation

Miller, Keith C., Public Policy and the Inevitability of Internet Gambling (September 25, 2012). Drake Law Review Discourse, Vol. 60, 2012; Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 12-21. Available at SSRN:

Keith C. Miller (Contact Author)

Drake University Law School ( email )

2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States
515 271-2071 (Phone)

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