|Board celebrates passage of Internet gambling law|
Oct. 20, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert
Jim Winkler addresses members of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
WASHINGTON (UMNS) -- A front-page headline in the Washington Post
on the defeat of Internet gambling provided cause for celebration
during the United Methodist Board of Church and Society's fall meeting.
"'New Law Cripples Internet Gambling' is the headline above the fold,"
said Jim Winkler, top executive of the agency, as he waved the
newspaper's Oct. 14 edition from the podium during the board's meeting.
"This reflects seven years of hard work by this board."
The Post article said the legislation eliminated "an activity enjoyed by
as many as 23 million Americans who wagered an estimated $6 billion
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act prohibits online gamblers
from using credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers to place
and settle bets. The board worked in a coalition with a variety of
Christian and family groups and other organizations, including the
National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association,
National Basketball Association, National Council of Churches and
Concerned Women for America.
"It was really a remarkable coalition across ideological and theological
divides, and between organizations and churches concerned about justice
and between major sporting enterprises that are concerned about the
impact of gambling on the integrity of their sports," Winkler said.
The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, a board staff member, played a key role behind
the scenes in working on the legislation, Winkler said. A turning point
came during an Iowa field hearing in which United Methodist Bishop
Gregory Palmer testified in support of the legislation. U.S. Rep. James
Leach, R-La., and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., were at
the hearing. Afterward, Frist threw his support behind the legislation.
The Rev. Cynthia Abrams
"Congressman Jim Leach on the floor of the House of Representatives
personally and publicly thanked Cynthia Abrams and the United Methodist
Church for the key role she and we played in getting this passed,"
Both Winkler and Abrams said the passage of this legislation will especially protect children and young adults.
"It is very hard to regulate who has access to Internet gambling sites,"
Winkler said. "Poker is just exploding in popularity as well as other
kinds of betting and sports betting. Millions of people get sucked into
"We have been historically opposed to gambling in all its forms," Abrams
said. "We have to be very careful to protect our children and young
people from future addiction."
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Jim Winkler: "It will protect our children."
The Rev. Cynthia Abrams: "We have been historically opposed to gambling."
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