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Push To End Online Gambling Ban Gains Steam 206

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 Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:29AM (#31059874)
    ..and creates lots of jobs.
  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@ y a h o o . 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 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:01AM (#31060100)

    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.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:23AM (#31060272) Homepage Journal

    So, are you trying to ban 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. Flipping houses has an element of physical maintenance on the property: it's hard to earn any profit without at least trimming the bushes, and many flippers put significantly more elbow grease into the property so it will command a higher price. In the case of betting on whether you get three Queens in a random selection of cards, there is no constructive aspect. It is for this reason that many of the ancient religions forbid the activity, and as we all know, ancient religions still hold particular sway over the majority of mankind.

    You might be able to tell that I'm not keen on the hocus-pocus of the church. Hey, I sell a bumper sticker that says "if electricity comes from electrons, what does morality come from?" Yet at times, I do think that some of the shamans, some of the time, actually were trying to keep most of their flock's creative urges aimed at constructive endeavors instead of destructive and wasteful ones.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:27AM (#31060300) Journal

    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.


  • by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:58AM (#31060514)
    One of the problems with overseas casinos is lack of oversight. With no oversight, there's a very good chance that the casino you are logged into will cheat. After all, why not? What have they got to lose? It's not like you can report them to some authority. Heck, even online poker they can throw in a house hand that wins in addition to taking a cut of the pot officially. Nothing to stop them.

    So what does legalizing it in the US get? It allows for oversight. Sure some places will break or bend the rules, but there will be risk in that for them so it's less likely. At the very least it wouldn't likely be rampant like it is with overseas online casinos. Any online casino based in the US would be regulated by local, state, and federal gambling boards. These boards would work to ensure payout percentages, and check for cheating. it'd be tougher than regulating brick and mortar casinos, but some oversight and regulation is better than none.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:03AM (#31060552)

    I don't want to be more cynical than necessary but stories like this are simply deliberate leaks from Congress to stimulate contributions from both sides of an issue. In fact keeping the status quo is clearly the outcome here. Whenever politicians see their coffers running low they talk up issues that affect those with deep pockets and just reap the resulting avalanche of money.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:20AM (#31060696) Homepage Journal

    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 grandfather would have lived long enough to retire. How about the EPA? Before the Clean Air Act you couldn't drive past a Monsanto plant with your windows down; the air was so bad you couldn't breathe.

    Even in a free market some things still need to be regulated.

    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.

    Your logic is faulty, unless you're saying you need regulations to keep the house from cheating. And all businesses rely on some limited and hidden information; that's how you keep one-up on your competetion. Pepsi and Coke rely on their soda formulas being secret.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:23AM (#31060732) Homepage Journal

    It's like if we legalized pot smoking in K-12 school.

    Ironically, it's easier for a twelve year old to buy pot than it is for me to. As an adult, I could be the Secret Police ("undercover"), but not a twelve year old.

    You can buy pot in any high school, but not beer. That should tell people something about their misguided drug laws, which cause the very problems they purport to solve. The same goes for gambling, prostitution, and other victimless crimes.

  • by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:28AM (#31060780)
    Nice straw man.

    I was arguing that without any disincentive, casinos will cheat. Then you said casinos can make money without cheating. Where in my post did I say that casinos can't make money without cheating? I wasn't talking about whether or not a casino can make money without cheating, I was talking about reasons why a casino would NOT cheat. Casinos are businesses. The purpose of a business is to make money. More specifically to make as much money as possible. A simple risk benefit analysis will clearly show that if there are no repercussions for cheating, then it is in the casino's best interest to cheat. They will find the optimal balance between cheating and playing fairly to keep players playing but steal as much as they can from them.

    In Vegas, it is rare for casinos to cheat because the penalty for doing so and the likelihood of being caught are both high. This risk outweighs any potential increase in revenue. So by and large, they don't cheat. The rules are fair and clearly posted for all to see.

    But, if you own an online casino, why in the world would you play fair? Why wouldn't you cheat? There is no risk of being caught and no penalty if you are caught. The reward however is greatly increased income over what you already make. Money is good, more money is better. The only thing you have to worry about is word getting around that you cheat and thus driving away players. With carefully crafted cheating combined with some astroturfing and shills, you can easily avoid that.
  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:36AM (#31060850)

    And in vegas there is a massive industry around the process of verification of the accuracy of the odds and ensuring that the house does not stack the odds below the prescribed limits and laws about how they operate.

  • by Mantis8 ( 876944 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @12:46PM (#31061698)
    I timothy 6:9-10 But they that WILL be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

    For the LOVE of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    All gambling, online or off, has the same root cause: the love of money (greed). There is a massive amount of highly credible research that proves it has very negative effects on the individual, family unit, and society. Here is just one of thousands of articles. []

    Nothing wrong with being rich. What is wrong is the lust to be rich. Huge difference.

    So any form of gambling is bad. Period.
  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @01:42PM (#31062340) Journal

    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 expense of the speculators.

  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <pluther@us a . net> on Monday February 08, 2010 @03:07PM (#31063412) Homepage

    That's true just about anywhere.

    The first time I was in Eugene, Oregon, I was looking for a bottle of rum at about 9 at night.

    I went to two different stores before discovering that you can't buy rum in a grocery store in Oregon. After learning of the existence of specialized liquor stores, I was walking downtown in search of one. I asked several passersby if they could give me directions.

    The only ones I could find were closed.

    In the end, nobody could help me find rum.
    But three different people offered to sell me pot, and one offered LSD.

  • by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:32PM (#31065380)

    Yet at times, I do think that some of the shamans, some of the time, actually were trying to keep most of their flock's creative urges aimed at constructive endeavors instead of destructive and wasteful ones.

    In a similar vein, that's probably true of a lot of the "traditional' religious morals, especially with regard to intimate relations. When you have a relatively short expected lifespan, high infant mortality, a technology level that requires the majority of manual labor to be ivested in agruculture just to sustain the existing population, and neighbors in the smae boat who are fighting the same population and resource pressures (thereby draining large parts of the population from war casualties), you wind up needing lots of people. Any behavior that doesn't further that goal of making more people is rejected because it hurts society as a whole.

    Today, with huge advances in agriculture, medicine, technology, and diplomacy, we no longer need to pump out as many people as possible to sustain (or even grow) our society. It doesn't matter if some people don't produce children; others are willingly taking up the slack. Behaviors previously rejected are now acceptable because they are not harming society.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:45PM (#31065616) Homepage Journal

    * legalise all hard & soft drugs
    * legalise suicide
    * legalise tattooing on under 18's

    Yes, all drugs should be legal. Yes, suicide should be legal. No, tatooing, suicide, drugs, and alcohol should not be legal for minors. What grade are you in, kid?

    Some things need to be regulated because they hurt society in general.

    Outlawing is not regulating. You cannot regulate an illegal activity. You can be pretty sure that the drugs you buy from Walgreens are free of contaminants, but you can't say the same about street drugs; you can't regulate the purity of heroin or cocaine.

    Sure there'll be a few shills arguing that people are responsible for themselves but those people have probably never pulled a poker addict's limp dead baby from a car parked in 50 deg C heat in a casino parking lot.

    Or an alcoholic's dead baby from a bar parking lot. Yet you don't seem to advocate outlawing alcohol. In the case of the dead baby, the crime is child neglect/abuse. That is not a victimless crime, the gambling is. An addiction is no excuse for neglecting or abusing a child. And there doesn't need to be any addiction involved for a child to be abused.

    Addiction is a mental illness, and it's not the only mental illness that ruins lives; most mental illnesses ruin lives. And those illnesses should be treated as such, not criminalized.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer