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States should fold on Internet gambling

California and New Jersey, each seek more revenue, are leading the states toward Internet gambling, starting with online poker. But this all-too-easy form of gaming would come with at a high cost to society – and government.

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An online gambling app is demonstrated in the exhibitors room at the GiGse online gaming convention in San Francisco last month.

Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

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Talk about an industry game changer.

A number of states are now poised to let their residents gamble online in games of chance. With a few thumb punches on a smart phone, someone could wager a bet in a poker match as easily as texting a message – only with a predictable loss of money.

California, which faces a whopping budget deficit of $16 billion, may be the first state besides Nevada to legalize in-state Internet gambling. Desperate for new revenue, the state’s legislature is weighing an online-gaming bill that proponents claim would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars.

In New Jersey, too, lawmakers are close to sending Gov. Chris Christie a bill aimed at bringing in $50 million a year. And the state also hopes to revive Atlantic City by turning it into a national hub for online gaming if Congress approves online gambling nationwide.

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