There’s an obvious, but important, lesson for American online poker advocates contained in the WSJ’s recent profile of outgoing AGA chairman Frank Fahrenkopf.
As the WSJ tells it, Fahrenkopf developed “a playbook for so-called vice industries hoping to expand their reach in the U.S.” during his time at the AGA.
So what page should proponents of regulated online poker take from that playbook?
Mr. Fahrenkopf’s strategy was to minimize—though, importantly, not to altogether deny—the social costs that many critics had long said accompanied casino gambling expansion.
In the early years of the AGA, he began to push the young industry to fund addiction research and economic studies, creating reams of statistics that he rattled off in the halls of Congress, in statehouses and in pitches to newspapers. He has called his critics “enemies” and aggressively attacked others’ research if its conclusions differed from his.
The body of research covering addiction and economic impact in the context of online gambling is relatively small and disparate in the status quo.
Directing resources toward developing the field and promoting the research it generates is a long-view strategy that will bolster the ability of online poker advocates to respond peripherally to critics, a strategy I discuss in a longer, related piece at QuadJacks.