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Government Delays New Ban On Internet Gambling 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the twenty-bucks-says-they-extend-it-again dept.
The Installer writes with this quote from the Associated Press: "The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve are giving US financial institutions an additional six months to comply with regulations designed to ban Internet gambling. ... The delayed rules would curb online gambling by prohibiting financial institutions from accepting payments from credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers. The financial industry complained that the new rules would be difficult to enforce because they did not offer a clear definition of what constitutes Internet gambling. They had sought a 12-month delay in implementing provisions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that Congress had passed in 2006. ... US bettors have been estimated to supply at least half the revenue of the $16 billion Internet gambling industry, which is largely hosted overseas."
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Government Delays New Ban On Internet Gambling

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:00PM (#30254858)

    Is there any American out there who can explain to me how it's somehow "wrong" when somebody chooses to risk their money betting on poker or blackjack games, but it's perfectly acceptable (and even promoted as a "patriotic duty") to gamble in corporate stocks that often offer greater risk and worse returns?

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:11PM (#30254924) Homepage

    Which part of this plan isn't going to work out too well? Am I missing something obvious...?

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:27PM (#30255026) Homepage Journal

    I think the government should only be involved in online gambling to prevent fraud and enforce contracts.

    Anti-gambling advocates would claim that telling customers "you can win" is itself fraud.

  • by MrNaz (730548) * on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:46PM (#30255146) Homepage

    This situation aside, I don't believe the prohibition failure is a universally applicable example that can be cited every time the government wants to regulate something that's inherently hard to regulate. It's a balance between the cost associated with enforcement and the cost of allowing the activity to occur unregulated.

    If you don't apply the calculus correctly then you could argue that murder is hard to prosecute, therefore we should just allow it. After all, prohibition failed. Ditto for all hard drugs. Should we allow unrestricted use of heroin and cocaine? There may be some callous people who would argue that banning drugs is interfering with Darwinian mechanisms, but the reality is that many youth don't know what's good for them, and need to have access to hard drugs removed to protect themselves from making poor decisions in the period they are still learning to evaluate choices maturely.

    Apply the prohibition lesson sparingly, as it can lead to manifestly unjust and dangerous policy decisions if invoked carelessly.

  • by bocin (886008) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:49PM (#30255178)
    I'm sure the history of gambling prohibition has root in some B.S. moral/religious grounds. Gambling does seem to lose most, if not all, of its EVIL value when regulated by government.
  • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:57PM (#30255230)

    This situation aside, I don't believe the prohibition failure is a universally applicable example that can be cited every time the government wants to regulate something that's inherently hard to regulate. It's a balance between the cost associated with enforcement and the cost of allowing the activity to occur unregulated.

    Prohibition is a great example because drugs and gambling have two things in common: there's no victim. Someone can gamble away their last cent if that's really how they want to spend their mortal life; this doesn't force you or me to do anything. As I view the protection of civil rights to be the main reason why government has law enforcement powers, and no one is using force or fraud to infringe anyone's civil rights here, I am having a hard time understanding why government is even involved. This is exactly like Prohibition, during which some people wanted to drink alcohol, didn't force anyone else to drink if they didn't want to, and still the government felt a need to create a victimless crime. Just like with alcohol, this seems to be based on some kind of Puritannical outrage and has little to do with logic and reason.

    If you don't apply the calculus correctly then you could argue that murder is hard to prosecute, therefore we should just allow it. After all, prohibition failed. Ditto for all hard drugs. Should we allow unrestricted use of heroin and cocaine? There may be some callous people who would argue that banning drugs is interfering with Darwinian mechanisms, but the reality is that many youth don't know what's good for them, and need to have access to hard drugs removed to protect themselves from making poor decisions in the period they are still learning to evaluate choices maturely.

    If you think drug prohibition has removed the street availability of drugs, it's because you frankly haven't done the slightest research on it. For many youths, alcohol is actually more difficult to obtain than illegal drugs for the simple reason that the store clerk wants to see ID but the drug dealer doesn't. People might go into drug withdrawals because they cannot afford heroin and cocaine, but not because they don't know where to find them. The War on Drugs has been a total failure in this regard, just like alcohol Prohibition was a total failure. A total failure unless, of course, your goal was to expand the police powers of government, in which case it has been quite successful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:06PM (#30255278)
    I can't quite work out why some of the other countries who host online gambling sites haven't complained to the WTO. The UK (the Isle of Man especially) hosts a large number of sites, and the US has arrested non-US citizens for running sites that are perfectly legal in the country they are running them in. How the hell can the US consider that right, in any way, shape or form?
  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:14PM (#30255312)

    Prohibition is a great example because drugs and gambling have two things in common: there's no victim.

    Really? So when my step-father burned down the family home two days before Christmas for the insurance money so he could cover his gambling debits, neither I nor anyone else in my family was a victim? Wow. I feel -so- much better about sleeping in a homeless shelter as a kid. Thank you.

  • by alexhard (778254) <alexhard@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:16PM (#30255320) Homepage

    It's also worth noting that virtually the only reason organized crime exists is because of the drug prohibition..the government is basically subsidizing the various mafias and drug cartels.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:22PM (#30255352) Journal

    Callously worded, I'll grant you, but I don't think it's entirely wrong. That is:

    You are not a victim of the fact that gambling exists. You are a victim of your stepfather's addiction. This doesn't make it any better for you, but it's worth realizing.

    Trying to outlaw gambling to prevent that is a bit like trying to outlaw alcohol -- there are many victims of people in a drunken rage, but it doesn't get better when we try to outlaw it, and there are plenty of people who can drink responsibly. The problem is not the alcohol itself, it's the people who can't tolerate it.

    In fact, if we try to outlaw everything that might be a dangerous addiction, we could start with alcohol, then move on to World of Warcraft, caffeine, television, and so on. I'd be amazed if we had anything left by the end of it.

  • by Wardish (699865) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:31PM (#30255394) Journal

    Internet gambling is just one facet of the real problem.

    Somewhere along the line we changed from being citizens of the government to dependents of the government. We lost much of our freedom to do as we wish with minimal intrusions by the government. Phrases such as "For the good of all", "It's for your own good", "It will save many lives.", and of course the classic that's applied to far to many situations, "It's for the children.".

    I'm not saying there isn't a place for government meddling, just that it should be kept to a bare minimum with a very high burden of proof to create and just to make sure, it should regularly expire and have to pass the same burden to reenact.

    The real fact is, you are not free unless you have the right to fail. Gambling away your life or house is fail. I believe they used many of the same arguments to enact prohibition as they are using for gambling now. Think about it.

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:37PM (#30255434)

    Callously worded, I'll grant you, but I don't think it's entirely wrong. That is:

    You are not a victim of the fact that gambling exists. You are a victim of your stepfather's addiction. This doesn't make it any better for you, but it's worth realizing.

    Trying to outlaw gambling to prevent that is a bit like trying to outlaw alcohol -- there are many victims of people in a drunken rage, but it doesn't get better when we try to outlaw it, and there are plenty of people who can drink responsibly. The problem is not the alcohol itself, it's the people who can't tolerate it.

    In fact, if we try to outlaw everything that might be a dangerous addiction, we could start with alcohol, then move on to World of Warcraft, caffeine, television, and so on. I'd be amazed if we had anything left by the end of it.

    Thank you because I might have been a bit harsher without really intending it. The GP exhibits just the sort of emotionalism that needs to be REMOVED from these discussions entirely, at least if good public policy is our goal. Shit happens and sometimes people get traumatized by this. When traumatized, they look for something to blame, preferably something easier to blame than the individual human being who was responsible and could have chosen differently. Something easier to blame may include an inanimate object (drugs, guns) or a voluntary activity (gambling). This illogical, grief-driven process of scapegoating is quite understandable but we should not base policy decisions on it.

    No casino forces anyone to gamble. No drug forces anyone to ingest it. No gun forces anyone to pick it up, load it up, point it at another person, and fire it. Those things are all completely passive elements. Without humans to actively engage them, the casino will become an abandoned building, the drug will rot and spoil, and the gun will rust. Sorry but his uncle's gambling problem is not a reason to take away EVERYONE'S right to choose to gamble, just like one car accident is not a reason to ban all automobiles.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:40PM (#30255458) Journal

    If you don't apply the calculus correctly then you could argue that murder is hard to prosecute, therefore we should just allow it.

    Murder directly hurts another human being. More technically, it denies them of basic rights, like the right to live.

    Neither alcohol nor gambling does this. A father might beat his kid in a drunken rage, or bankrupt the family (even make them homeless) from gambling debts, but in this case, it is the father who is doing each of these. The alcohol, for one, is an inanimate object.

    Ditto for all hard drugs. Should we allow unrestricted use of heroin and cocaine?

    Yes.

    Why shouldn't we?

    the reality is that many youth don't know what's good for them,

    And that is the real problem -- so educate them on what's good for them.

    And again, drugs are inanimate objects. It's possible to abuse cough medicine, after all, just as it's possible to use cocaine properly -- consider coca tea.

    need to have access to hard drugs removed to protect themselves

    So, that works about as well as prohibition.

    That is: These kids have about as much access as they always did. As causality says, these drugs may be easier to obtain than alcohol. Telling them "don't try it" is about as effective as abstinence-only education.

    Now, I still haven't tried drugs and alcohol, but my parents actually went out of their way to explain the differences between drugs. They made it clear that they don't approve, but they also didn't lie to me about things like marijuana, which probably wouldn't be that harmful, versus cocaine and heroin, which would probably destroy my life.

    to protect themselves from making poor decisions in the period they are still learning to evaluate choices maturely.

    If it's about maturity, why are hard drugs illegal at any age, but alcohol is legal at 21?

    It's also worth mentioning: The war on drugs, like prohibition, has significant collateral damage. Leaving drug convictions aside, there's still the massive network of organized crime that would utterly collapse if we started making and selling drugs legally. It would also cut the balls off of the real, bloody war that's happening in Mexico -- seems we can tolerate drug prohibition because the violence is down there, rather than in our back yard, as it was with alcohol prohibition -- but with Americans growing their own drugs, there wouldn't be so much traffic through Mexico.

    There's also the deal the American government has struck with Peru, which includes an attempt to eradicate the Coca plant from Peru. Coca, as you may know, can be used to make cocaine, if processed and insanely concentrated. By itself, though, the coca leaf makes a mild tea, much milder than coffee -- and it's an important part of their culture, which we are killing off, because someone might make cocaine out of it.

    Consider a world in which coffee was illegal. Sure, if you drink too much coffee, you get jittery, and the withdrawal headaches are painful. If you drink enough coffee, you could probably kill yourself. And coffee is fairly dilute -- suppose you took the syrup used to make fountain drinks, and just drank that straight, or snorted it. Don't you think that'd be dangerous? Clearly, we should regulate coffee to protect kids from themselves.

    Apply the prohibition lesson liberally, until it sinks in. If you can't tell the difference between murder and alcoholism, you clearly haven't learned the lesson of prohibition.

  • by wonderboss (952111) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:46PM (#30255506)

    Your step-father burning down the family home to pay of gambling debts implies that he owed the money to an organization other than a legitimate credit company. This implies organized crime, which exists partially due to the prohibition of gambling where your father in law gambled.

    So I would say your step-father was victim of loan sharking and you were a victim of arson.

    Addiction of all sorts needs to be treated as a medical problem, not a criminal one.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @02:20PM (#30255700)

    Don't get me wrong. I don't believe for one moment that trying to ban gambling would work any better than prohibition did.

    I just hate the argument that there are no victims of gambling (or any other vice you care to name). There may not be a victim in every case, but there are victims and there are plenty of good arguments against banning vice that don't require dismissing those who have been victimized.

  • by mweather (1089505) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:11PM (#30256014)
    His buddies were the loan shark, and cutting him off was their way of breaking his legs. They're nice, but they're still loan sharks. IMHO, it's mostly their fault for letting him gamble with money he didn't have.
  • by roguetrick (1147853) <kazer@brIIIigands.org minus threevowels> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:24PM (#30256116) Homepage Journal

    Gambling is a sticky issue though. Not only is it proven to be addictive but it also affects poorer individuals much worse than richer. Check out the lotto lines in Baltimore if you want tangible evidence of that. I think its idealism that causes people to believe that individuals are always capable and usually do make informed rational decisions on subjects that have great implications.

  • by a whoabot (706122) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:54PM (#30256304)

    Why would that make you an idiot? I don't expect to win anything when I go the cinema for two hours (in fact, I expect to lose: the admission price), but I still might do it because it was an entertaining experience.

  • by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy@ston e p o ol.com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:59PM (#30256334)

    Gambling didn't burn down your house. Your step-father did. His reasons behind it, if proven, are enough to show that it was arson and not accidental, but not enough to ban gambling even if it was possible. You might say he wouldn't have burned down the house without gambling debts, but I could also say he wouldn't have burned down the house if it wasn't for the existence of the knowledge necessary for humans to create fire, or there would be no money available to entice him to burn down his house if it wasn't for the existence of insurance.

    Gambling, firearms, etc., should not be criminalized simply because criminal activity can be associated with them. The burden of legislation should be reversed; in other words, is there a legal reason for something to exist? Then it should be legal. Prosecute murderers, not all firearm owners. Arsonists and fraudsters, not gamblers. Even if he was an addict and his vice was gambling, in the beginning it was his poor choices that put him in that predicament.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:04PM (#30256364)

    I don't expect to walk out of seeing a movie with more money that I walked in with, so I'm an idiot for going to the movies?

    I don't expect to make money watching my kid play sport on the weekend, so I'm an idiot for doing so?

    I don't expect come out ahead financially when I go to a bar with friends, so I'm an idiot for doing that?

    I don't expect to ever see any of the $50 I paid for a new video game back, so I'm an idiot for buying and play it?

    I pay my ISP each month, so I'm an idiot for browsing the web and using email?

    I had breakfast at a cafe this morning, idiot again?

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:06PM (#30256376)

    No, there wasn't any loan shark. His "buddies" just wouldn't play with him until he paid off what he owed them. Also, the arson wouldn't have been so bad if the insurance money had gone to a new house instead of being gambled away.

    As I said in another post, I don't think banning gambling (or any other vice) is a solution. I just hate the argument that there are no victims when I've seen them and been one.

    But that's just it. You're not a victim of gambling. You're a victim of your uncle's inability to confine his vices to himself and prevent them from affecting others. To give an analogy, you could consider drinking to be a vice. However, if I stay home, get drunk, watch a movie, and sleep it off, then I am confining the effects to me. Any liver damage, other health problems, or other dangers will be mine alone to experience. On the other hand, if someone gets drunk and then decides to drive drunk, they are endangering everyone else on the road. Other people who do not drink will suffer either the real damage of a car accident that was completely preventable or the potential damage of a much greater risk for one. The person who drives drunk has failed to confine his vice to himself.

    So what's the difference between the person who uses alcohol appropriately and the person who drives drunk? Personal responsibility. But the flaw of driving drunk is in the person who refuses to be responsible. It's not found in the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms that constitute the ethanol. People who are hit by drunk drivers are not victims of ethanol; they are victims of irresponsible people.

  • Theres plenty of us that don't believe a single fact can change how you view things. Call it complicity with the psychoanalysts, but I just don't find people of one mind and totally rational. "Well, i know chances are I won't win anything. But imagine how great it would be if I did. If I don't go and try, that awesome great thing will never happen, and I would have to give up on that dream. I don't want to do that."

  • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:43PM (#30256602)

    Peripheral damages are certainly a viable reason for prohibition.

    I demand that you stop driving; it can kill people. I wonder how many more people are killed by cars than drugs? Cars kill ~40000 in the US. Drugs kill ~17000. Poor diet killed ~365000.
    "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000," Journal of the American Medical Association, March 10, 2004, Vol. 291, No. 10, pp. 1238, 1241.

    Consumer protection, environmental, and public health initiatives all contain fine examples of that.

    You will note that those programs are far from unopposed. The health issue in particular attracts a huge amount of debate.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:48PM (#30256648) Journal

    Also, the arson wouldn't have been so bad if the insurance money had gone to a new house instead of being gambled away.

    You wouldn't think that if you were a firefighter who might have died. This is going to sound harsh but I hope that your Dad is behind bars. Arson is no laughing matter or victimless crime.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:51PM (#30256668) Journal

    I am having a hard time understanding why government is even involved

    Because it doesn't want the competition. Gambling is bad, unless it's sponsored by the state under the guise of funding education, and then it's just fine and dandy. As far as I'm concerned if the Federal Government wants to ban gambling it should start by outlawing interstate lotteries (the Federal Government arguably has the power to do this under the interstate commerce clause) and continue by encouraging the states to abandon their intrastate lotteries.

    Otherwise it's just hypocrisy and more "do as I say but not as I do" from the people who are supposed to be working for us.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @04:58PM (#30256700) Journal

    Not only is it proven to be addictive

    So what?

    but it also affects poorer individuals much worse than richer

    So what?

    I think its idealism that causes people to believe that individuals are always capable and usually do make informed rational decisions on subjects that have great implications.

    I'm not that idealistic. Large numbers of people are morons. But again, so what? Why should we infringe on the freedom of those who aren't morons to protect those that are? Many people enjoy recreational drugs and/or gambling and still manage to lead productive lives. Why should their pursuit of happiness be impeded because of those who can't responsibly manage to do the same?

  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @05:14PM (#30256780) Journal

    Exactly. It's not about gambling, it's about the person. People get addicted to things, but they need to know where to draw the line.

    If government based on addiction and the possibility of losing money on it, they should also ban entrepreneurs and business, because they are also taking huge risks in their life. A person should evaluate the risks and act upon results. If you are driven by money, it's still the same with business, same with gambling. And are you going to ban businesses?

  • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:20PM (#30257060) Journal

    The real fact is, you are not free unless you have the right to fail.

    How do chemicals in my food and containers, which cause deformities and may cause even more severe medical issues, possibly make me free?

    How does being able to drive without wearing a seatbelt, risking my own life, increasing the burden on first responders, the medical system, etc., make me more free?

    The US was never the libertarian ideal you are trying to pretend it was. There were taxes and regulations from the very start. All examples of society lacking regulations have proven miserable failures under their own weight, and libertarianism is just a bullshit curtain for the super-rich to try to weasel out of their social obligations.

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:40PM (#30257144)

    Why should their pursuit of happiness be impeded because of those who can't responsibly manage to do the same?

    So that a bunch of well-meaning but foolish people can feel good about having done something, without ever addressing any of the underlying issues and personal weaknesses that make a person vulnerable to gambling addiction or any other addiction. It's an example of "politician's logic" which says "something must be done -- this is something, so it must be done!" It amounts to an attempt to remove the underlying problem by banning only its most visible symptom and without ever seeking to understand the underlying problem, its causes, and how it manifests as those symptoms.

    Superficial solutions like this have never accomplished anything other than the erosion of civil liberties, because prohibition is nearly unenforcable so long as civil liberties are strong and well-respected. Superficial solutions like this take what is really a medical or public health issue and turn it into a law enforcement problem, not because it's the best way to handle the issue but because we as a society are much more skilled at locking people up than we are at producing happy, healthy individuals.

    Not to mention that if the society can blame all of its ills on inanimate objects (drugs, guns) and voluntary activities among consenting adults (gambling), a transfer of guilt takes place. It removes the need to admit that only an ill society would manifest so many of these problems on such a systemic level. It removes the need to admit that maybe something is fundamentally wrong with our priorities, policies, and institutions when so many people engage in self-destructive behaviors. It means that we're "all right" and are just suffering from the evils of whatever thing we have chosen to demonize. All of this is patently false, but it sells very well and creates the impression that if we're working this hard, we must be accomplishing something.

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