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Mass. Gambling Bill Would Criminalize Online Poker 296

Posted by kdawson
from the put-up-then-you-won't-have-so-much dept.
timothy writes "Awesome: 'A gambling bill introduced by Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo criminalizes Internet gambling and online poker. The bill calls for two casinos.' Not that they're against gambling, you see... just against being deprived of a monopoly in such a perfect fleecing opportunity."
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Mass. Gambling Bill Would Criminalize Online Poker

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:31PM (#31755198)
    Why is it that in 2010 we still try to create even more victimless crimes? Even if I'm against the object of the crime itself, I'm very much opposed to my tax dollars being wasted on people who want to do it.

    I don't care if my neighbor plays poker. I do care if I have to pay money because my neighbor plays poker.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:37PM (#31755262) Journal

      Agreed.

      And honestly, I don't participate in Online Gambling myself, but I think people who want to should have that right. I hope they meet more resistance than just the minority of people who play.

      The next thing I need is some bill saying I can't visit an MMO because they too are an online service depriving me of my money. It's my call to make. If you have a problem with gambling, go ahead and try to get it outright banned. Otherwise, targetting just the online sector of it is just silly. Why does the internet make a process any more illegal or immoral?

      • by WindowlessView (703773) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:09PM (#31756224)

        > I hope they meet more resistance than just the minority of people who play.

        I'm willing to bet they won't. People can't be bothered to resist things like two wars that are costing them hundreds of billions each year, they sure as hell won't get off their asses for the poker player down the block.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You mean like the Victimless Crime of deciding I don't want hospital insurance and would rather just pay cash as needed?
        Yeah.
        Thanks to the central government that is now a crime, punishable with a ~$1000 annual fine.

        But of course that's different. "We" support making free choice a crime. Pretty soon I suspect I'll be fined for the Oreo cookies I just ate, or ice cream I had for dessert last night, or having a BMI greater than 25.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      What's more, even the victims of gambling (friends and family who are abused to fund the gambling and the addicts themselves) are not helped by this bill. Why? Because gambling addiction is generally a psychological addiction or a bad coping mechanism, all of which will express themselves in other areas if the addict can't gamble.

      All that this is the establishment of a monopoly to the benefit of a few existing operators, and a guaranteed income stream for the government establishing the monopoly. The fundin

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:49PM (#31755428) Journal

        It's not that the states really care about you gambling, they just want to have the revenue from it themselves instead of it going to someones Internet business.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          So declare internet gamblinb legal in their state and tax all the companies that setup there.

          Of course, the feds won't let that happen - see "medical marijuana".

          • by blair1q (305137)

            The feds wouldn't blink an eye. Gambling is legal; transmission of gambling information by interstate telecommunications is not (except for the broadcast of horse and dog races; don't ask me why, I don't care).

            The medical marijuana thing is still an ongoing tussle between the states and the feds.

            They'd stay out of it if MA wanted to allow its casinos to hook up its citizens online. They'd get mighty pissed if those casinos colocated their servers in Connecticut.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blair1q (305137)

          That makes no sense. They can regulate and tax online, intrastate gambling as easily they do a brick-and-mortar casino. But ensuring the games aren't skimmed, and preventing gambling addiction, is far more expensive and difficult online.

          This law doesn't change interstate or international law one bit. It is redundant with them. It is, however, banning intrastate internet gaming, while at the same time legalizing gaming in the state.

          If in the future someone finds a way to prevent compulsive gambling, or t

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137)

      How can you call this a victimless crime when you've already been victimized by your own ignorance of the ease with which online gambling becomes online fleecing of the player?

      • by nextekcarl (1402899) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:54PM (#31755484)

        Can you really call someone who chooses to do any particular act a "victim"? Unless there's deception (that isn't part of the act in some way) I'd have a hard time calling the loser a "Victim". Is the guy who loses in a boxing match a victim?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chrb (1083577)

          Can you really call someone who chooses to do any particular act a "victim"?

          That's an interesting philosophical question. The strict answer is yes - the simple example: "Give me your money or I will shoot you" - followed by your choice to give the speaker your money. You had a choice - you could have chosen to take the bullet - but you are also now a "victim". The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines victim as: "someone or something which has been hurt, damaged or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        How can you call this a victimless crime when you've already been victimized by your own ignorance of the ease with which online gambling becomes online fleecing of the player?

        Since all gambling is fleecing, either ban it entirely or allow it.

        I would say it isn't fleecing because everybody knows the likely outcome, even if the want to pretend otherwise (that they'll be the one lucky winner out of millions).

      • Lets see here.

        Person A willingly decides to gamble online, they make online gambling illegal, Person A continues to gamble, Person A gets prosecuted at my expense. Who wins in this scenario? I certainly don't, neither does Person A.

        Unless someone disturbs me, or endangers me, I shouldn't have to waste my money prosecuting them. Yeah, keep murders, thieves and other violent criminals out of the streets, but online gamblers? Why does it matter? They aren't affecting me.
        • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:13PM (#31755716) Journal

          Person A gambles away every penny he has, aided by the con game being run by the online poker service.

          Person A then goes on welfare, taking even more of your money than it would have cost to stop his online gambling.

          The only hypocrisy in this is that Person A will probably end up broke at the Wewannafuckyu Casino on Rte 128. But far fewer will, and they won't be cheated in the process, just ground into meaningless flesh by their own stupidity.

          See, stupid is a victimless crime. Conning someone out of their money is not. Knowingly committing an act deemed to have deleterious implications to the welfare of the community, also is not.

          • Someone who is addicted to gambling will do it in whatever way they can. Physical or online casinos, the lottery, stock trading, or heck, even buying bottles of soda to win $10K.

            And for every "problem" gambler there are 20 more who go to the casinos for fun. And many, many, many, many more who go there on vacation to say Las Vegas and gamble just that once.

            Plus, it is a fundamental right to be able to do whatever with your money that doesn't harm anyone other than yourself.
          • Person A gambles away every penny he has, aided by the con game being run by the online poker service.

            What con game? How exactly is person A being defrauded of money? Losing all your money by voluntarily playing poker on a site isn't the same as being defrauded off your money.

    • Gambling isn't even remotely victimless- why do you think there are recovery groups for gambling addiction?

      Casinos are specifically and carefully designed to exploit people's natural instincts (for example, no windows so you have no sense of time) and mental illnesses; the layout of the floor is done purposefully, as are the style of the games. There's a wealth of information out there for anyone with access to Google Scholar [google.com], for example, like this [springerlink.com]:

      The pattern of convictions for various categories of cr

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        ...and police spending has to do with ONLINE gaming how?

      • Correlation is not causation. We could say the same thing about almost anything. Why have movie theaters? Because we all -know- that movie theaters attract teenagers with violent and sexy movies, and teenagers cause vandalism! Just look at the crime rates with towns that have teenagers and towns that don't!

        You have to pay when your neighbor robs the local convenience store to pay the rent/mortgage/grocer (or their gambling debts, or just to gamble more),

        One could say that about -anything- pleasurable. Yet I hope you are sane enough to realize that banning everything pleasurable is not the way to go.

        loses the house/apartment anyway, and their spouse and child are now homeless and on welfare.

        Yeah, because again, we know that -never- happens wi

      • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:18PM (#31756276) Journal

        Gambling isn't even remotely victimless- why do you think there are recovery groups for gambling addiction?

        Non sequitur. The existence of a recovery group for addiction to X does not indicate that doing X results in a victim. For instance, there's groups for shopping addiction, yet shopping is victimless.

        You have to pay when your neighbor robs the local convenience store to pay the rent/mortgage/grocer (or their gambling debts, or just to gamble more), loses the house/apartment anyway, and their spouse and child are now homeless and on welfare.

        Same as I have to pay if he robs the local convenience store because he bought too much house for his income, or spent all his money on a business that failed, or any number of things. It's already illegal to rob the local convenience store; making the reasons someone might rob a local convenience store illegal is not compatible with a free dociety.

        Take a look at the police spending in any community pre-and-post casino. It always skyrockets after the casinos move in, because casinos attract the desperate, mentally ill, and criminal.

        Casinos attract a lot of people full stop. But this is about _internet_ gambling; the desperate, mentally ill, and criminal can stay right where they are.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Casinos attract a lot of people full stop. But this is about _internet_ gambling; the desperate, mentally ill, and criminal can stay right where they are.

          You would think that if we were concerned about addiction to gambling, we'd outlaw actual casinos, not just online versions. This isn't about caring for addicts or helping people, this is about the State trying to figure out how to control, regulate, and tax this activity. Because if the State isn't getting their "fair share" then no one gets to play...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You know, Internet Addiction Disorder [wikipedia.org] is real. I think we should limit the amount of time you spend on the Internet, because while YOU might not have a problem with it, your neighbor might and if he's on it too much he could lose his job, then his house, and wind up homeless in the emergency room. Or so depressed he blows his house up - and yours too... All the name of the greater good, you know!
      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:48PM (#31757242)

        Casinos are specifically and carefully designed to exploit people's natural instincts

        So is World of Warcraft [cracked.com], and no one is trying to outlaw that. Hell, as far as college age people goes, I knew 5 people that dropped out of college as a result of WoW addictions. We're talking playing 100+ hours per week without sleep or going to classes numerous problems with relationships, few friends outside of their addiction, and extreme difficulty holding down a job. In other words, all the hallmarks of a destructive addiction, and any psychologist can tell you that the game is designed to create exactly that.

    • by blankinthefill (665181) <blachancNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:58PM (#31755532) Journal
      I've never understood how we can claim to be such a progressive, forward thinking country while having such a ridiculous number of blue laws (regarding laws that are meant to enforce certain 'moral' standards, not just the Sunday laws) on the books. In all honesty, it's time to get rid of these. Who cares when people sell things, or if people gamble with their own money, or who sleeps with whom (or whoms), or even if people want to parade around naked all day long? Hell, for a country that claims to have a separation of church and state, we sure have a lot of religious laws. (Okay, I kind of care if people want to parade around naked all day long, depending on the person, but that doesn't mean that we should have legislation in place banning something that doesn't have any victims other than our sense of taste!)
      • Bottom line, IMHO? NEVER legislate anything based on "morality". If we adhered to that simple policy, we wouldn't have the huge fight over whether or not gays can get married in various states, and we wouldn't have all the nonsense about prostitution (illegal to pay for something it's illegal to get for free, even from the SAME people). We wouldn't blow MASSIVE amounts of tax dollars on the "war on drugs" that's impossible to win either.

        And as for laws preventing people from "parading around naked all da

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119)

      "Why is it that in 2010 we still try to create even more victimless crimes?"

      Online gambling is a haven of criminal activity, many of the games are rigged easily, not to mention the hacking of other peoples computers that happens through the software or website to unsuspecting visitors. I know tonne of people who got ripped off through online casino's who had their computers hacked their email passwords stolen and as well as bank/financial data were cleaned out.

      It's not that gambling isn't a "victimless cri

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mestar (121800)

        "online gambling is just so inherently corrupt."

        Make sure to ban all politicians as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200)

        It's not that gambling isn't a "victimless crime" it's that online gambling is just so inherently corrupt.

        It wouldn't be so corrupt if operators could legally set up shop in places where their customers would have meaningful recourse against corrupt operators. Like, for instance, in the same country as the customers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jcr (53032)

      I don't care if my neighbor plays poker. I do care if I have to pay money because my neighbor plays poker.

      What do you think this is, a free country?

      -jcr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Score Whore (32328)

      I don't care if my neighbor plays poker. I do care if I have to pay money because my neighbor plays poker.

      How about this:

      Your Neighbor: hi, I make/made bad choices and can't afford to feed myself and my children. give me food stamps.
      Your Neighbor: hi, I make/made bad choices and can't afford to house myself and my children. give me section 8 housing.
      Your Neighbor: hi, I make/made bad choices and can't afford health care for myself and my children. give me universal coverage.
      Your Neighbor: hi, I want to play

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        So then my not on welfare self should be allowed to gamble?
        Should a poor person be allowed to gamble with non-welfare money?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astar (203020)

      so i do not know if online gambling is victimless. but let us assume there is harm. In the state of washington, the state was doing advertising campaigns around the slogan "playing is good"

      more generally, if you think the phrase "casino economy" has significant meaning, I expect you do not want the state supporting actual casinos.

      Washington lottery structure is for a 50% payout, assuming the tickets were claimed. It is I think tricky to say playing the lottery makes sense for the individual player. and i

  • .. if you do it in the State of Massachusetts as long as your money doesn't leave the State of Massachusetts. Hmmm ... what if the online casino is located in Massachusetts?
    • Not sure about Massachusetts, but in a lot of states thankfully you don't have to waste your money paying taxes when dealing with online services.
  • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm&mauiholm,org> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:39PM (#31755284) Homepage Journal

    It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that MA, or any state, would want to limit on-line gaming. The only reason any US state has permitted gaming at all is to generate revenue. Being as the states don't have a good mechanism for that on-line, they don't permit it.

    One can moan about libertarian ideals and Puritan ethics all one wants. But, all of the players are fully aware of the situation, and have no inhibition against saying so in public, so pointing it out isn't going to make it go away.

    • Mod parent up. In Washington it is a *felony* to gamble online. Is it because gambling online is a much more serious crime than the misdemeanor of, say, punching a stranger in the face? No, it's because lawmakers want to keep receiving lobby money from the Indian casinos and small poker houses that are the established, profitable businesses already in the state.
  • And how many rapists will have to go free to fit in people who just play on line poker / sports bets?

    any ways this will just give Argentina even more free IP.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:45PM (#31755368)

    This is a fairly common ban... even in Las Vegas you have to submit yourself to the whims of the Nevada Gaming Commission, and you can't get an Internet casino approved by them. Most states have lotto laws that makes the state-run game the only legal gambling in their jurisdiction.

    It's already proven that a lot of MA residents are traveling to the two CT casinos. I'd rather stay in MA to play poker if only there was a legal game in town.

  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:48PM (#31755408) Homepage Journal

    Assuming that the online poker game is *NOT* based in MA, then under the Commerce Clause (abused though it may be) and the 10th Amendment (ignored though it may be), the power to regulate/ban is reserved to the Feds, and the States may not ban it.

    Of course, if the game *IS* based in MA, then no problem.

    • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:58PM (#31755536) Journal

      They don't ban the commerce, they ban the communication.

      The feds have already banned interestate and international gambling online.

      It was banned over the telephone and telegraph decades ago; in fact, having read that law and knowing how the Internet works, I didn't see a need for any new laws to ban it for internet traffic, but legislators like to show up on C-SPAN.

      Massachusetts legislators are no different, so tacking a redundant ban onto a bill legalizing in-state gambling is either a no-op, or adds some twist that the feds didn't consider. Like banning in-state internet gambling as well.

      • by sconeu (64226)

        knowing how the Internet works, I didn't see a need for any new laws to ban it for internet traffic

        They must be trying to ban RFC1149 based gambling.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by blair1q (305137)

          As far as I know, the transmission of bets and winnings via carrier pigeon is still legal.

          Betting on the pigeons, however, is illegal.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:53PM (#31755474)

    Press: "Mr. Speaker DeLeo! How come only two casinos?"

    DeLeo: "I only got two friends."

  • A spinoff of the World Poker Tour TV show is called ClubWPT where people pay about $20/mo. to subscribe to a poker club that offers frequent games with small prizes. This is legal in most states because the subscription fee is for a Las Vegas-based e-mail newsletter, and the games are considered promotions that don't have an individual cash buy-in. Would this go away in MA under the new law?

  • The only thing they care about is lining their pockets with the money they steal and extort from us.

  • A better idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:33PM (#31757530)

    Instead of trying to ban or restrict online gambling, why not simply license these sites on the condition that they pay the same gambling taxes as would be paid by a physical casino.

    So if someone from Massachusetts plays on a site, the site has to pay gambling taxes to Massachusetts.

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