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The Almighty Buck Government The Internet United States Politics

Legal Online Gambling May Return to US 231

Posted by Zonk
from the you-have-the-right-to-lose-it-all dept.
According to a story on News.com, legal online gambling may return to the US. The ban, put into place last year, is now in jeopardy thanks to the efforts of folks like Barney Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services committee. Frank is of the opinion that adults should police themselves for excessive gambling, and the government should stay out of their way. "Friday's hearing included witnesses from companies that process online payments. In general, they echoed the arguments once used in favor of ending alcohol prohibition and that are now being invoked to decriminalize marijuana: It's better to legalize, tax and carefully regulate an industry than let it flourish with far less oversight in the black market. Some countries already do just that. In the United Kingdom, for instance, Internet gambling is legal and strictly regulated. Some of the larger online casino operators are publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. "
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Legal Online Gambling May Return to US

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  • hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by f1055man (951955) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:47PM (#19447007)
    While Frank is a policy wonk, and usually tries to find reasonable solutions to real problems unlike many of his colleagues, I can't help but wonder who is paying for this.
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ptbarnett (159784) on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:25PM (#19447321)
      While Frank is a policy wonk, and usually tries to find reasonable solutions to real problems unlike many of his colleagues, I can't help but wonder who is paying for this.

      I agree that he isn't likely to be "taking one for the team" because he thinks it's the right thing to do.

      But, there's a larger issue here: The US has repeatedly lost to Antigua [iht.com] in the WTO, who has ruled that the US law against online gambling (while exempting other gambling within the US) is illegal under the WTO treaty.

      The US has responded by saying "we will renegotiate the treaty". Needless to say, this hasn't gone over well with other members of the WTO.

      Antigua has threatened to retaliate, but their options are limited. One proposal is for Antigua to sell US-copywrited material (i.e. music) online, without paying the royalties.

  • Reversal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paktu (1103861) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:47PM (#19447013)
    It's kind of interesting to see the Bush Administration in favor of restricting commerce, while Barney Frank (a Democrat) wants to allow a freer (albeit still heavily regulated) market.
    • Re:Reversal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday June 09, 2007 @12:43AM (#19448159) Homepage Journal
      The Democrats have been getting steadily more libertarian as the Republicans get steadily more authoritarian. I'm hoping that at some point the libertarians who still call themselves Republicans will see which way the wind is blowing and either (a) desert en masse to the Democratic Party, thus speeding up the change, (b) desert en masse to the Libertarian Party, thus turning the Republican Party into a shadow, or (c) take control of the Republican Party from the raving nutcases who are currently running it. But I've been waiting a long time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The Democrats have been getting steadily more libertarian...

        When I stop finding Democrats picking my wallet clean, I'll believe that. I live in California where the Democrat controlled state government seem hell bent on controlling my every waking moment and action. I'm sure legislature involving dreams will follow.

        Unless you're in the country illegally. Then they want to hand you the keys to the city for some reason while they kick legal citizens repeatedly in the teeth. Oh, but it's racist to even th

      • by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @11:42AM (#19450901) Homepage Journal
        People who claim that Democrats are, or are becoming libertarian are wrong. This is a base political ploy to gain the support of Libertarians. I happen to think there are good reasons for Libertarians to hold their noses and stand with us Democrats in the next couple of years, but I also believe that, in the words of our party's founder, "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" behooves us to be honest when we solicit that support.

        Democrats are not libertarian in the sense that Libertarians use the word. Democrats don't subscribe to the "negative" theories of liberty in which liberty is precisely an absence of government constraint. We have a more utilitarian view of liberty in which opportunity plays an equal role. This means we support interfering with the freedom of the powerful when it constrains the opportunity of the less powerful. Most of us recognize that opportunities will never be equal in society, and in fact for most of us equality of outcome is not a goal; but where the physical well being of the median person can be improved; where that person has the ability to better himself through education or culture; where greater scope of action can be offered through greater opportunity -- there we have no problem taxing people or acting to balance the liberties of the powerful against the liberties of the average person.

        For example, our philosophy doesn't have a problem limiting the number of broadcast outlets an individual can own in a market. If somebody has a soapbox, we are happy to see him use it. But also see no problem in denying him the right to buy all the soapboxes in town if that would pose a problem for the average person in getting his voice heard. It's purely a matter of utility for us.

        This is a divide in philosophy between us and Libertarians that cannot be bridged.

        At first glance, it's hard to see any consistent philosophy in the modern Republican leadership. It alternately talks a libertarian game, then paternalistic, then authoritarian. They also are anti-elitist when it comes to every virtue that does not touch on power or wealth: they are particularly hostile intellectual or education distinction. This alone makes them a pratical enemy of the principled Libertarians.

        The most consistent explanation of Republican policy seems to be that they, like the Democrats, subscribe to a utilitarian combination of negative and positive liberties. The difference is that the liberties they favor are for the deserving. The deserving are by definition those that can obtain, hold and wield power, or who are useful to those wielding power. Aside from the lack of economic or political egalitarianism, the Republican political philosophy operates much like the Democratic political philosophy. This explains why it is so easy for a Democrat like Lieberman to become a crypto-Republican. The imperative of holding on to power is a corrupting influence.

        So, overall, I'd say principled libertarians have little reason to trust Democrats, but very good reason to distrust Republicans. Democratic ideology is incompatible with libertarianism, but it is restrained (in principle) by political egalitarianism. There is one positive reason for libertarians to support the Democrats in the short term: the increasing fusion of private economic and state power. This is a fundamental principle of fascism, and if allowed to continue on this route much longer our country will become a de facto fascist state. Democrats are not immune to this, as I pointed out. Nobody is. But at least we Democrats in principle oppose this fusion. The blogosphere, for all its faults, may give the Democratic party activists some ability to pull our wavering politicans from the brink.

        In my opinion libertarians will have little opportunity to sway the course of events from within their own party, not until they can capture at least one Senate seat. If they could capture one in 2008, and if the Senate remains about as divided as it is, the Libertarians would become very powerful i
  • by dircha (893383) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:49PM (#19447039)
    From TFA:
    ""In the end, adults ought to be able to decide for themselves how they spend the money they earn themselves," said Rep. Barney Frank"

    Yeah, about that. You see Mr. Frank, you arrange the taking of a very large percentage of the money I work hard to earn every year, and you decide how it should be spent for me. So if you could go ahead and look into that while you're at it, that'd be great, mmmkay?

    So it takes online gambling to get Barney to come around? Looks like someone must've spent a lot of time playing online poker.
    • So it takes a large wad of cash donated by companies involved in online gambling to get Barney to come around? Looks like someone must've spent a lot of time playing online poker.

      There, fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by imamac (1083405)
      The thing is, he knows he can tax it when it's legal again.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well, ya, that's the point. Online gambling hasn't stopped because of the ban, it just goes on in the shadows . Hopefully they'll do something about cannabis as well. Taxing it like beer & gambling seems like a better option than wasting money on incarcerating people.
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Friday June 08, 2007 @11:15PM (#19447683) Journal
      Heh, oddly enough, Rep. Frank was the same one who, a while back, criticized [house.gov] supposedly free-market conservatives for voting for farm subsidies:

      This spectacle allowed even liberal Barney Frank (D., Mass.) to hold forth as a fiscal conservative. "I have listened to many of my conservative friends talk about the wonders of the free market, of the importance of letting the consumers make their best choices, of keeping government out of economic activity, of the virtues of free trade, but then I look at various agricultural programs like this one," Mr. Frank said. "It violates every principle of free market economics known to man and two or three not yet discovered."

              He then delivered this zinger: "I have been forced to conclude that in all of those great free market texts by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and all the others that there is a footnote that says, by the way, none of this applies to agriculture."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eraserewind (446891)
        Yeah, I can think of no reason a nation might want to maintain a native food producing capability.
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by rangek (16645) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:54PM (#19447073)
    I am stupefied. Barney Frank has finally done something I agree with. The skiing must be pretty good in hell nowadays...
    • by dircha (893383)
      Not only that, but Congress may be about to pass a bill that leave us better off than we were before.

      Could it be?
  • The American people are nowhere near mature enough to be trusted with foolish ways to lose money! I, for one, demand that this motion be defeated by moralizing [senate.gov] elites [house.gov] with the power to regulate our vices! Such measures always work [wikipedia.org] as planned!
    • by jcr (53032)
      Surely you're not trying to suggest that the congress is an elite group?

      -jcr

  • by eck011219 (851729) on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:00PM (#19447143)
    ... what's the problem? Our government tried to outlaw a "sin" in the 20's with a Constitutional amendment, and had to repeal it because it was unpopular and unenforceable. I never thought outlawing it was a good idea anyway. I could care less about online gambling personally, but I am a recovering alcoholic and could certainly see how life would be a little easier if there was no booze anywhere around me. But that will never happen, just like a complete eradication of online gambling will never happen. It's just not practical, and I honestly question whether it's ethical anyway. Besides, it's up to me to stay quit -- not the government.

    I happen to like Barney Frank a lot -- he's often the no-BS guy in a flock of honking geese in suits worth more than my car. And sometimes he's an arrogant jerk. But I rarely feel like I'm getting the D.C. sugar-coating treatment from him. So perhaps I'm biased. But still, I just don't see that this is a bad thing.

    In a free society, people are responsible for themselves (and their children). If they can build a boat here in Illinois (we can't have land-based casinos, but we can have permanently docked unseaworthy boats -- go figure) where people can freely walk in and piss away their money, why should this be outlawed on the Web? It's a silly, unenforceable, and reactionary law that deserves to be repealed. The Reverend Lovejoys of the world had their year or two of cleanliness on this one, and it's time to go back to rational laws about things that the government should be focused on.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) *

      The Reverend Lovejoys of the world had their year or two of cleanliness on this one, and it's time to start finally making, for once, rational laws about things that the government should be focused on.

      Fixed. No charge.

    • Its more to do with this ban being an illegal act under the WTO rules, with two judgements against the US and the threat of sanctions and fines. As has been reported before, US companies could lose international IP protection via Antigua if something isn't done.

      The US HAS to move, otherwise Microsoft faces legal copies of software and Hollywood faces legal movie copies. It was always a stupid law, an illegal law - now there is a scramble to save face.

  • by TehZorroness (1104427) on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:00PM (#19447145)

    In general, they echoed the arguments once used in favor of ending alcohol prohibition and that are now being invoked to decriminalize marijuana: It's better to legalize, tax and carefully regulate an industry than let it flourish with far less oversight in the black market.
    YES! I personally am not a drug addict or anything, but if you were able to buy crack, heroin, and marijuana in your local CVS, the world would be a much better place. If you could obtain these substances legally, they would be under a lot more control. Less accidentally unboiled rat poison. Additionally, gangs and mafias would be out of business.

    The side effect would be the companies selling the drugs, just like the cigarette companies today, but it is the lesser of two evils when compared to the mafia or a street gang.
    • Man, I don't know if you're being sarcastic or what, but if I could buy weed at the local CVS, I wouldn't have to sell my body for crack anymore. The world would indeed be a much better place.

    • by dave1g (680091)
      Not to mention the lower taxes, ok well more likely just more services for the rest of us who don't piss away every last cent on gambling, and on occasiona we can rationally choose to spend money at a casino, knowing full well the odds of winning. Have you priced a vacation trip to to disneyland/world/skiing/cruises/europe? How is such a large amount of money spent on those recreational activities ok but gambling is not. As with most thing I will always prefer regulation + taxation over outright bans. Thi
      • Have you priced a vacation trip to to disneyland/world/skiing/cruises/europe? How is such a large amount of money spent on those recreational activities ok but gambling is not.

        Indeed. I love hearing about how drug laws are intended to protect people from themselves, yet we allow people to drive automobiles, mountain climb, play football, and engage in a plethora of other "safe" activities. Personally, I'd rather light up a doobie in the sanctity of my home than spend a bunch of money trekking to tourist
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:13PM (#19447241)
    That's all about banning video games. Woohoo!
  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:17PM (#19447273) Homepage
    That's why they want to enforce their local monopoly, um, I mean encourage people to play the lottery. If they had banned the lottery, vegas, etc when they banned online gamboling, it would have at least been consistent. As it is, there's no doubt that the government is just looking for more money. So they'll be happy to allow internet gamboling if they can regulate and tax the bejesus out of it, like every other legalized "sin".
    • If they had banned the lottery, vegas, etc when they banned online gamboling, it would have at least been consistent.

      If I cannot dance, I want no part of your revolution.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Friday June 08, 2007 @10:21PM (#19447287) Homepage

    If his opinion on adults' ability to police themselves extended into non-entertainment areas of life...

    If he grew the understanding, that we are likewise capable of saving for retirement, finding job, choosing health-care options, etcetera, I would even have forgiven his copious amounts of non-help in the case of my grandmother's immigration to the US.

    • by Sunburnt (890890) *

      If he grew the understanding, that I, unlike millions of Americans, [census.gov] presently have the option of saving for retirement, finding job, choosing health-care options, etcetera

      There, fixed. No charge. Sorry for the PDF.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mi (197448)

        I, unlike millions of Americans, presently have the option

        Are you — along with Mr. Frank — telling me, that "millions" of natively born and raised Americans have somebody but themselves (and, maybe, their own parents) to blame for not being able to afford anything they darn please by adulthood?

        Millions of (would be) immigrants dream of coming to this country — legally and otherwise. And when they do, most of them manage to not only prosper, but to help out their extended families back

        • by Sunburnt (890890) *

          Are you -- along with Mr. Frank -- telling me, that "millions" of natively born and raised Americans have somebody but themselves (and, maybe, their own parents) to blame for not being able to afford anything they darn please by adulthood?

          Many of them, yes. Casting everyone's economic situation as the result of their own free will is just moralistic fluffing for the successful. Really, just because someone's parents, neighbors, or history is/are fucked up is no reason to deny that person access to medica

    • choosing health-care options

      That would simplify things greatly. For example, if you have a preexisting condition, you could choose your healthcare options from the empty set.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        That would simplify things greatly. For example, if you have a preexisting condition, you could choose your healthcare options from the empty set.

        Ha! Life is a pre-existing condition. Pay through the nose. Next!

      • This indeed seems to be the problem. While the libertarian philosophy seems appealing on its face, all too often it is merely used as a window dressing for the attitude of "fuck y'all, I got mine." That this attitude inevitably leads to revolution by the have-nots is lost on the dreamers.
  • too keep on line gaming fair and to enforce law against people who may try to cheat it and that may come from both sides.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Friday June 08, 2007 @11:22PM (#19447745) Journal
    It's the heavy taxation and strict regulation I am opposed to. These are all things that should be controlled entirely by private citizens. Good old capitalism can handle these problems and there is no more justification for government regulation than any other industry.

    Here is a wild thought, instead of trying to micro-manage every industry where businesses could endanger the health of individuals with poor standards or swindle individuals we start making the executives and investors in ALL businesses criminally liable for the actions. If food or drug processor took an action that harmed or endangered people then the ones who made the call should go to pound me in the arse prison. The same is true of casinos that use rigged machines that constitute fraud. Right now a company can use a dangerous chemical that will hurt people to cut corners and make hundreds of millions doing so. IF they get caught, the worst they face will be a few million in fines and lawsuits and probably will make a net profit on the affair. Even if they break even they will profit from the practice overall since any punk kid can tell you that the cops don't even know most crimes happen let alone catch the bad guys. If you make white collar decision makers subject to the same sort of consequences as the hungry crack addict on the street you can bet the decisions they make will reflect that.

    Aside from enforcing criminal law, the only time the government needs to interfere with industry is fix the fundamental flaw in the free market. The flaw is of course companies that are too large to allow real competition. Of course single company monopolies aren't the only problem that needs to be solved, it is common practice now for several supposed competitors to collude in a manner that has the same effect as a monopoly. In both of these situations it is necessary for the government to step in and the right to property has to be considered secondary to the interests of the nation as a whole.

  • Gambling has such a big downside that it's one place I can see the government having to step in. My observations, some based on fact others on conjecture:

    • When the money gets big enough, the are enough resources available to start fixing games, paying off already rich players, rigging machines and software, etc.
    • Gambling isn't one of those vices make worse by prohibition.
    • Regardless of what the mayor tells you, the money will not go to the children. I live in KC where the governments simply played the sh
    • by jeff4747 (256583)

      When the money gets big enough, the are enough resources available to start fixing games, paying off already rich players, rigging machines and software, etc.

      There's LOTS MORE money from continuing to run an on-line casino. The house is getting a piece of every single bet. Why on earth would they fix one single game for the benefit of a rich player when they're getting lots more money from every single game on the site?

      Gambling isn't one of those vices make worse by prohibition.

      Link?

      Prohibition

  • Since the WTO keeps ruling against the US on gambling, he should have said
    "We need to abide by the trade rules we have forced down the throats of the rest of the world, instead of holding others accountable and ignoring the rules ourselves"

    How like the US to continue to ignore the way we screw the rest of the world and focus on how we can encourage our people destroy themselves best.

    Yes, as I have stated before I work mostly in the GAMING industry (read gambling) so I have seen the carnage. The younger we
  • Frank is of the opinion that adults should police themselves for excessive gambling, and the government should stay out of their way.

    When I hear politicians saying the same thing about prostitution, drugs, and real world gambling outside of protected enclaves (Vegas, Atlantic City, Indians, etc.) and a host of other issues too long to list I'll believe we're making some sort of progress.

    Right now I could get fired for having a $1 football pool at work because, if discovered, the state can prosecute my

  • The online gambling systems cheat.... plain and simple.

    If not an outright ban, some type of legal protection is required.
  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Betonschaar (178617) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:56AM (#19449363)
    It's very nice and refreshing to wake up on a saterday morning, read Slashdot, and find out American politicians with a sane view on reality actually still exist. Completely independent of the fact if you like and/or approve of online gambling, softdrugs, alcohol, etc. this is the only way to reduce their harmful effects to a minimum, regulate them, and still respect the choices made by individuals.

    I don't know much about Ben Frank's other political views, but he definitely seems more pragmatic (as opposed to dogmatic) than most high-profile US politicians I know of. I think that's a good thing. Where I come from (the Netherlands), the attitude against for example softdrugs, smart drugs, alcohol and other possibly harmful things people can do to themselves is comparable, and from 27 years of experience I can tell this has lead to lower softdrugs usage than in the countries surrounding us, less health issues, less drugs-related crimes etc.

    Funny thing is, the Dutch government still has a really stupid and dualistic stance on (online) gambling. Online gambling is specifically prohibited here, as is organising (for example) small-scale poker tournaments etc. The *only* institution that is allowed to offer legal gambling opportunities is 'Holland Casino', which is a government-controlled (but still commercially exploited) casino that has a monopoly on all things related to gambling. This includes, for example, all variants of poker, even though the most popular variants don't even qualify as gambling. Now, over the last few years, playing poker has become a real hype here. Lots of people play it now, and they want to play tournaments against different opponents. What's happening right now, is that small-scale 'illegal' poker tournaments (with buy-ins in the $10-$50 range, or $0.5-$2 cash games) get busted every now and then, and the people entering and organising them are criminalised. This has lead to more people finding their ways to 'Holland Casino' for playing poker, which only offers tournaments starting at $100 buy-ins, or $5-$10 cash games. Just yesterday a study was published that showed a lot of dutch students have gambling debts from playing poker on limits that are way too high for their skills...

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