Representatives Frank and Paul’s Payment Systems Protection Act (H.R. 5767) was recently voted down after an address by Rep. Bachus, who managed to persuade the House using scientific evidence of the evils of online gaming. The evidence he quoted, however, does not exist.
The Payment Systems Protection Act aimed to stop the UIGEA from being further implemented and to regulate the online gaming market, but Bachus put an end to it with a speech that started with this quote:
McGill University found that one third – one third – of college students who gambled on the internet ultimately attempted suicide.
Bachus managed to overturn HR 5767 on the strength of this argument and several similar ones that portrayed online gambling as a real danger to college students. The only problem is that the "fact" he attributes to McGill research is not based on any actual study from this university.
Dr. Jeffrey Derevensky, a professor at McGill University in Quebec, was surprised to see his studies quoted in this context and with such negative results for online regulation. He sent a letter to this effect to both Reps. Bachus and Frank, and declared to the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative:
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.
Dr. Derevensky is actually in favor of regulating the online gaming market – a measure which would result in a better protection of consumers and minors – rather than an outright ban, which only leads players to use unregulated, unlicensed operators. "(Congress) should look to create an environment where Internet gambling operators are required to put in place safeguards that protect against compulsive and underage gambling," said Dr. Derevensky to the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.
Jeffrey Sandman, a spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, censored Rep. Bachus’s appropriation of McGill research and its misuse or misquote, and pointed out that even the academic community supports the idea of a regulated online gaming market:
It is disappointing that Rep. Bachus is using scare tactics and false claims in an attempt to justify why Congress should limit my ability to gamble online (…) We are encouraged by the academic community's support of Internet gambling regulation. They emphasize the important point that consumers will be better protected if there are safeguards put in place to combat underage and problem gambling.