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Push To End Online Gambling Ban Gains Steam 206

Posted by kdawson
from the letting-the-chips-fall dept.
The Washington Post updates a story we discussed last spring about a push in the Democratic-controlled congress to legalize some forms of Internet gambling in the US. "Partly bankrolled by offshore gambling companies, the campaign has already persuaded the Obama administration to delay enforcement of a 2006 law cracking down on Internet wagers. ... The federal government, which rarely prosecutes online gambling, would net billions of dollars in tax and licensing revenue if it were legalized, proponents say. ... The outlook on Capitol Hill, however, is uncertain given a slate of unfinished business... [and] nervousness among Democrats about November midterm challenges. ... [A politically conservative poker player said] 'There's a part of the party that always believes this isn't something people should do. But I think it behooves the party to be a little more broad-minded on this issue.'"
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Push To End Online Gambling Ban Gains Steam

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  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:25AM (#31059848) Homepage

    It's harder to regulate, and easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home.

    I'd much rather online gambling remain banned, and we unban brick and mortar casinos across the country. At least the latter can be regulated, brings money into the local economy, and gets people out of the house.

    • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:29AM (#31059866)

      It's harder to regulate, and easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home.

      This seems like a self-regulating feedback loop, actually.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rockoon (1252108)
      ..and creates lots of jobs.
    • by vlm (69642) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:35AM (#31059894)

      It's harder to regulate, and easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home.

      So, are you trying to ban etrade.com and "flipping houses"? Or is risk taking in general ok, and you just want to impose your peculiar morality about playing cards on others?

      I'm not sure how its easier to get addicted to gambling at home. I can tell you don't have a spouse, house, and little kids, as god knows I can't accomplish any tasks at home anymore. Back in the bachelor apartment days, well yeah, maybe, and in addition to spare time, I also had more available cash to "gamble". D-n-D, watching sports, and MMORPGs suffer the same fate.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Speare (84249)

        So, are you trying to ban etrade.com and "flipping houses"? Or is risk taking in general ok, and you just want to impose your peculiar morality about playing cards on others?

        This is a tempting philosophical generalization, but there is a critical difference between gambling and your other examples of risk-taking. Trading securities has an element of supporting the work of the company involved: you are supporting constructive industry, whether you end up with a gain or a loss on your "bet" in the market.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by vlm (69642)

          Trading securities has an element of supporting the work of the company involved: you are supporting constructive industry, whether you end up with a gain or a loss on your "bet" in the market.

          I suggest you research financial futures trading, commodity futures trading, currency futures trading, all of which are legal and no different than betting on whom gets three queens, and re-evaluate your position. Also if a company is not issuing stock, but is paying its $0.5M/yr exchange fee, its not necessarily constructively making money, not all that different from selling bonds or taking out a commercial loan and paying interest, could be constructive but not necessarily, nor is it the only way to rai

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lgw (121541)

            You can certainly use the futures market to gamble, and speculators help provide liquidity in those markets, but that's not their primary use, and on average a speculator loses money, just like a gambler in a casino.

            There are also people making informed investments in these markets, and they tend to end up with most of the money that speculators lose. For example, producers and consumers of commodities are the reason that commodities futures markets exist, and those participants tend to make money at the e

      • by Jaeph (710098)

        It's nice and easy to label it all "risk-taking", but there is a distinction between betting on cards and buying houses. Quite honestly, I've never seen a problem with house-flipping; sure, there are probably marginal cases, but in general people buy houses that need real work done to them, do that work, then resell. Sounds completely above-board to me.

        -Jeff

      • by hitmark (640295)

        thing is that the market is (in theory) not rigged to favor one party, the casino (or whatever) that one is frequenting.

    • by obarthelemy (160321) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:39AM (#31059924)

      Mmmm. The same can be said about all e-commerce. Or all e-anything, pretty much. Do you want to ban the internet ?

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw.yahoo@com> on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:47AM (#31059964) Journal

      1) Online gambling is no more difficult to regulate than brick-and-mortar casinos. If it were, you wouldn't have sports books and race tracks across the country taking wagers from people who are not onsite. Allowing the same thing to happen from someone's home is just a difference of degree, not of kind.

      2) By making it legal, you make it possible to enforce monitoring of behaviors. Since players in the US would have to provide their SSNs for tax purposes, a central database of players could be maintained by the government (it would pretty much have to exist, again for tax purposes). That same database could be used to spot problem gamblers and steer them towards help. (Note that I personally am against this idea, but recognize it's inevitability.)

      3) There is no third point.

      4) I second the call for unbanning gambling in more areas. I live in North Texas, and the police in most of the towns here spend way, way too much time raiding private poker rooms, when they should be focusing on crimes with actual victims (if you voluntarily take part in something, by definition you cannot be a victim).

      • by vlm (69642)

        when they should be focusing on crimes with actual victims (if you voluntarily take part in something, by definition you cannot be a victim)

        Two problems:

        1) Best contemplate "malpractice" and "restaurant/grocery food safety laws" before making a victim definition. Also unless you were forced at gunpoint to drive, a drunk driver could not be responsible for your death because you were voluntarily driving.

        2) The problem in your situation is the cops confusing "private poker rooms" as being the evil to be eradicated, being unable to punish the "private poker room" itself, so they just lash out at whomever is nearby, such as the people in attendanc

      • (if you voluntarily take part in something, by definition you cannot be a victim).

        That's an absurd statement. If I voluntarily play a game of poker in some guy's garage, and he cheats, am I not a victim? If I buy stock in a company that falsified their bookkeeping, am I not a victim? If you voluntarily take part in a game that's called "You Are Guaranteed To Lose Your Money. And We Really Mean That. You Will Not Win." then maybe you would be correct, but that is never the case. By your logic if I voluntarily went outside and got murdered I wouldn't be a victim, because everyone knows th

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        3) There is no third point.

        "Borrowed" for sig:-)

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "2) By making it legal, you make it possible to enforce monitoring of behaviors. Since players in the US would have to provide their SSNs for tax purposes, a central database of players could be maintained by the government (it would pretty much have to exist, again for tax purposes). That same database could be used to spot problem gamblers and steer them towards help. (Note that I personally am against this idea, but recognize it's inevitability.)"

        Why would you have to do the SSN thing? You don't have t

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:49AM (#31059980) Homepage Journal

      It's harder to regulate

      Why should gambling be regulated at all? Cheating is fraud, that's already illegal. With illegal gambling, fraud is harder to prosecute, since the victim is also breaking the law.

      and easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home

      It's not up to government to keep you from eating too much, drinking too much, or gambling too much. It should not be government's role to protect you from yourself, government's role should protect you from ME. You would like them to outlaw McDonald's because too many people can't help but shove so much junk food down their gullets that they become unhealthily obese? I supppose you want to outlaw World of Warcraft because some people screw their lives up with that? Outlaw alcohol because some people are alcoholics?

      If you have a problem with gambling, that's a personal problem, not a public problem and is non of my or government's business.

      and gets people out of the house

      Dude, this is slashdot. Most of us don't even come out of the basement. HIBT?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642)

        Why should gambling be regulated at all? Cheating is fraud, that's already illegal.

        Money Laundering. Oddly enough, I always lose when I play my dealer / loanshark.

        Given a free and open market you don't need regulation, since the free market will clean it up. However, the whole point of gambling is working on limited and hidden information. Hence its inherently impossible to have a free market in gambling. Hence we need regulation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          Money Laundering

          Without victimless crimes we wouldn't have to worry about money laundering.

          Given a free and open market you don't need regulation

          Tell that to the people who died of salmonella last year from the poison peanut products. The worst part there was that the regulations weren't being enforced properly. If they had been, the filthy factory would have been shut down and nobody would have gotten sick.

          You're against OSHA? OSHA protects you from unscrupulous employers. Had OSHA existed in 1959 my grand

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)

        Until I no longer have to fund health care for people who have no willpower at McDonalds, they are hurting me.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          You don't have to eat junk food to have a heart attack, and you don't have to smoke to get cancer. Also, the converse is true. My grandmother's doctor, for example, told her "you have to get your cholesterol down or you're going to die." Well, the doctor died. Her next doctor said the same thing, and she outlived him as well. After outliving three more doctors who all told her if she didn't get her cholesterol down she was going to die, she finally did die.

          She fell down in the nursing home and broke her hip

    • we need more sports books like the race books then and some states now have online Horse betting.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        Vegas has an exclusive on sports betting. Its actually a federal law, believe it or not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcr (53032)

      Better for them to go broke online, than run up a debt with a local bookie who'll have their legs broken if they don't pay up.

      -jcr

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      We should also ban drinking alcohol at home. After all there's no bartender to stop serving you when you have had enough.

      And we should ban trading stocks from home. Heck, they let you buy on margin something no gambling site I know about does.

      And don't get me started on those currency trading sites - have you seen the margins they essentially require.

      In the case of gambling it is much better that our problem gamblers end up at unregulated (by the US) online casinos run out of tax haven countries (read very

    • by QuoteMstr (55051)

      I agree. Internet gambling, like all gambling, is a terrible idea. Because the odds are always tilted in the house's favor, you lost the moment you type in a URL or cross the physical threshold. Gambling preys on the poor, the weak, and the stupid, and I don't like the idea of living in a society where it's not only right, but justifiable to take advantage of another man's desperation.

      That said, banning gambling itself causes harm: it leads to intrusive regulation, jail sentences for otherwise-productive pe

      • You don't need to actually ban casinos to "ban" gambling, imprison anyone ,etc All you need to do is declare that any debt accrued by playing in a casino is not legally considered a debt - so casino cannot legally force gamblers to pay (and if they resort to illegal means, well, that's easily countered - especially so long as betting itself isn't illegal, so the gambler doesn't have to "rat himself put" by going to police).

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      It's harder to regulate, and easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home.

      Are you these people's mommy? Freedom means being able to fuck yourself...

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "...easier for people to get addicted and gamble away all their assets at home."

      And it is the Federal Govt's mandate to prevent this...?

      [Goes to get copy of Constitution to look for this enumerated power the Feds have concerning this...]

      Seriously, part of being free...is being free to fsck up...to fail to make bad decisions. As a grown, adult, should I be deprived of an adult activity that I am perfectly able to control, afford and enjoy just because Billy-bob over there can't keep from betting his who

  • Sounds like a bunch of hot air to me (probably with the goal of making the eventual legalization seem like an inevitability rather than the results of bribery).

  • stock market (Score:3, Insightful)

    by duckintheface (710137) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:33AM (#31059884)
    We already have internet gambling. I gu
    • by vlm (69642)

      We already have internet gambling. I gu

      Well, I can't argue with that.

      Two serious problem areas with defining internet gambling:

      1) Yahoo, etc, used to have online gaming for various games of chance. If you let people select their opponents, I have no idea how you prevent people from playing for money. Example is a bunch of coworkers figure out how to play each other and settle up the cash later. I have been involved in this general class of activity, more than a decade ago. Major hint: If your screen name is obviously a dude people leave you

  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238)

    I mean generally, yes, we don't need judges wasting their time with this shit, but this is no time to be legalizing what is essentially a formalized 419 scheme.

    If it's online, you're basically guaranteed to lose, because the house can rig the game so easily it's not even funny. In a real casino they at least have to maintain the appearance that you have a chance of winning something.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrisG23 (812077) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:58AM (#31060066)
      You have obviously not done any gambling online. A large percentage, perhaps even the majority of online gambling, is poker. When you go to an online poker site, you are not playing against the house/online gambling site. You are playing against other players, and the gambling site gets its money by charging a fee, a percentage of the buy in in a tournament or a percentage of the pot.

      Of course there is no 100% guarantee that the online gambling site is not putting an employee that can see the cards in on a table, but that would really net them so little money in comparison to hosting 100's or even thousands of tables simultaneously, and getting their little fee from each of them. Not the mention the damage to their reputation if it were discovered (there is great competition amongst online poker sites.)

      • by alexo (9335)

        You have obviously not done any gambling online. A large percentage, perhaps even the majority of online gambling, is poker. When you go to an online poker site, you are not playing against the house/online gambling site. You are playing against other players, and the gambling site gets its money by charging a fee, a percentage of the buy in in a tournament or a percentage of the pot.

        I wouldn't even put poker in the same "gambling" category as casino games (online or otherwise), as it was clearly demonstrat

    • by neoform (551705)

      If it's online, you're basically guaranteed to lose, because the house can rig the game so easily it's not even funny.

      I guess auditing their code would be impossible, after all, they certainly don't do that for banks and casinos..

    • by travdaddy (527149)
      Why would the house, online or otherwise, bother rigging a game that is already in their favor in the first place? That would be rigging it twice. If anything, an online casino should be able to give you better odds (still bad odds though) because they don't have to pay for a building, dealers, etc.
  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:59AM (#31060088)

    I'm not a democrat or a republican so lets clear that political nonsense up right now. I'm so sick and tired of having to protect people from themselves when it's something that THEY can control. Sure some people may need help but it shouldn't be the governments job to prevent this.

    If someone doesn't do research on something they put money into... well... that's their loss. If they are STUPID enough to think that gambling will eventually pay off then they deserve to lose everything they bet. That's why it's called gambling.

    There HAS to be a point where responsibility is the burden of the risk taker. "I didn't know" or "I'm addicted" just won't cut it. You pay the price for the decisions you make in life.

    This isn't like insider trading, or drug testing. You know exactly what you are getting into simply via the title of what you're doing. I'm so sick and tired of hearing people complain about gambling addiction and then blaming the Casino's or online companies. NOONE forced you to bet the money, you did it.

    I do not want this great country to start managing my life choices. If I want to be an idiot and gamble away something I can't afford... then that's MY responsibility.

    If you want to have a chance at monitoring things like this then you need to set ground rules that CAN be enforced.

    1) Anything over $10,000 must be claimed (just like current customs rules) and taxes applied. If caught not doing so, the penalty is severe (20% of amount brought in) + jailtime/community service

    2) Gambling income is considered just like typical earnings. You have to pay appropriate taxes on income. Some people are good enough to make this profitable. Why stop them if they are willing to pay taxes on it.

    There is ZERO need to regulate this. People go to Vegas for the experience. There is a world of difference between betting $1000 online and sitting at a table with a crowd around you as you bed $1000 and win. I'd know.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:35AM (#31060356) Homepage Journal

      NOONE forced you to bet the money, you did it.

      Dude, Peter Noone is SO going to sue you for slander!

    • by jcr (53032)

      I do not want this great country to start managing my life choices.

      You're about a century late on that. This business of government trying to make us better people goes back a loooong way.

      -jcr

  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:13AM (#31060192) Homepage Journal

    What the Hell is Valve thinking...

    Oh, what?

    Nevermind...

  • by zogger (617870) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:20AM (#31060232) Homepage Journal

    Buncha hypocrites. The whole dispute over online gaming is similar to the war on some drugs. Legal online gambling [wikipedia.org]

    Some people make money, others lose a lot. Some can get quite addicted to it and go really bust, and suffer all the social ills they worry about with online poker or whatever other game.

        And we have never had any big economic meltdown from online poker or blackjack, but we sure as heck had a major problem with credit default swaps and so on "gaming", including the use of bots [blogspot.com] for gambling with massive bets that are large enough to move the markets themselves, plus crony gambling insiders [salon.com] being shuffled into and out of the official currency creation/interest setting and so called "regulation" part of that scene.

  • by drumcat (1659893) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:34AM (#31060340)
    I think the sooner, the better. Solid competition from USA-based casinos would allow for a well-regulated, well-run environment. Even Reservation Casinos would do well. Why? Only US-based casinos could offer incentives to players to come to their hotels and restaurants. If Caesar's offered their player-points to players away from the casino, they'd be able to make money without a customer there, but then when they have some points, they can come in and take care of them. Customers will want to go, and will inherently trust domestic bookmakers more than offshore. Just ensure that all online-gambling is FEDERALLY taxed. Get something out of it, please. Tax the stupid.

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