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U.S. House Clears Anti-Internet Gambling Bill 283

Posted by Zonk
from the thousands-of-hopeful-moneymakers-shut-down dept.
matr0x_x writes "The U.S. has just moved one step closer to banning all Internet gambling sites when the US House of Representatives cleared an anti-Internet gambling bill yesterday. The bill is against a World Trade Organization ruling last August that stated the US must not block online gambling sites based overseas." From the article: " The bill, cleared by voice vote in the House Financial Services Committee, would prohibit a gambling business from accepting credit cards, checks, wire transfers and electronic funds transfers in illegal gambling transactions. Unlawful gambling, under the legislation, would include placing bets on online poker sites, for example, and any other online wager made or received in a place where such a bet is illegal under federal or state law."
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U.S. House Clears Anti-Internet Gambling Bill

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  • by JehCt (879940) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:07PM (#14933723) Homepage Journal
    There's a big difference between blocking sites, and making it illegal for those sites to use the US financial system to collect illegal wagers from within US jurisdiction. So long as the bill is written correctly, there should be no problem with WTO, and no problem with enforcement.
    • It's still a stupid law though.
      -nB
    • The problem is they are making Foreign based companies responsible for the Actions of US citizens. They are effectively legislating against foreign business. If the legislation was to make it illegal to gamble online in the states where it is illegal, then that would make more sense, but would be highly unpopular as it looks like it is aimed at the US Citizen. This way they can say, well its the companies that won't accept your credit card.
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:58PM (#14935672) Homepage Journal
        Geez....why write the thing at ALL???

        When oh when will we be able to get people in govt. that will understand that if you're 18/21, you are a freaking ADULT, and can decide for yourself matters like these?

        I am so fscking tired of the government trying to legislate morality and behavior.....

      • The problem is they are making Foreign based companies responsible for the Actions of US citizens.

        Hmmm, ever tried looking up anti-semitic sites on Yahoo from France? Tried bidding on swastika-embellished merchandise on eBay from Germany? The problem is they are making US-based companies responsible for the Actions of their citizens.

        Because many US states license gambling in some form or another, some assume this is just a pissing match over something the US hasn't figured out how to tax, yet. However, the

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:18PM (#14933864)
      Fifty bucks says it's doesn't pass House debate
    • by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:18PM (#14933867) Journal
      For someone with more accounting/legal background...would anything keep me from opening, say a Bank of England account, funding that account via legal methods, using said account for various normal activities (ie debiting my groceries, etc) then when I want to fund a poker account using the funds from that account to do so?

      I wouldn't be using the US financial system to fund the account, it would be my British (where this is legal, regulated, and presumably taxed) account, transferring money to a British online casino (pokerstars, for example). I would be using US wires to notify them to do this, but I'm not notifying them to do anything illegal (under their laws), so not running afoul of wire statutes...

      Would this work? If so, I can see a huge business opportunity for overseas banking for the little guy, as opposed to the big corporation which uses a similar dodge to avoid taxes.

      • by TheScottishGuy (701141) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#14934002)
        nothing really to stop you, except the difficulty involved in actually opening a british bank account, I had to spend almost 2 years in the uk recently and the hassle involved in opening an account is insane, and that's for someone with a UK passport who can walk into the branch. I was getting an apartment at the same time and the number of times i heard "well we can't hook up electricity until you have a bank account" or "we need a utility bill to open an account" was just nuts.
        • Agreed.

          The easiest way it seems to get a bank account in England is to come in from overseas with a work visa and jobs lined up through employment agents.

          A friend of mine went there as a teacher and the employment agent set her up not only a bank account but also a company in one of those tax havens so that she didn't have to worry about income tax either.
      • The article says: "By making it illegal to accept payments from people who live where federal or state law prohibits wagering..." so jurisdiction would be based on the customer, not the financial system.

        Governments jealously guard their right to regulate the behavior of their citizens. Whether or not they should is a whole 'nother question, but they will.

        Your idea, however clever, sounds like a whole new level of gambling, with the prize being a taxpayer-funded vacation in an orange jumpsuit, alas!

      • by joe545 (871599) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:35PM (#14934074)
        British banks generally require proof of residence (council tax or utility bills) to open a UK bank account so as to make life harder for money launderers, so this method won't be as easy as you think it is. Perhaps other countries (tax havens perhaps) have more lax banking laws which would make offshore gambling accounts feasable for the masses.

        Also, members of the public are not normally eligible for an account with the Bank of England as it is more of a national financial institution (like the Federal Reserve in the USA) controlling national interest rates etc rather than a normal bank.
        • British banks do require proof of address, but the degree of hoops you have to jump through depends on what sort of account you want. The first account I got when I arrived in the UK was a simple debit card account - you get a card, and internet banking, but no overdraft, no chequebook, etc. Quite limited but enough for the grandparent's needs. And All I had to do was get some fella staying at the same youth hostel to write a letter saying the address of the hostel was my permanent address. Dead simple.

          They
      • Unfortunately, IRS will also stick its nose into this. New regulations REQUIRE disclosure of foreign bank accounts on your tax return EACH YEAR, if various conditions are met, which I believe would probably include this scenario. Then add in the fine print from the Patriot Act and other nefarious bills passed and suddenly you've been brought in for questioning and a body cavity search just because you thought you should be allowed to played penny ante poker on-line. Gosh it's so nice to move about mindin
    • If the bill is written so that it can be enforced on the federal level, it can be enforced on the state level as well. Some states may prefer to tax gambling instead of prohibiting it. Why is a federal regulation needed?
    • How is it going to be enforced? Now, say I'm a company in Timbuktoo, and I accept a US credit card as payment for a wager (which is entirely legal in Timbuktoo). How is the US going to prosecute my Timbuktoo company?
    • This opens up 'new' business for other credit card companies.

      This will just shoot US companies.

      This is definitely right wing Republican legislation.
  • The way I see it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matr0x_x (919985) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:10PM (#14933754) Homepage
    When the US doesn't directly profit from the gambling (national lottery, Las Vegas economy, etc.) they try to get rid of it stating it is "immoral".
    • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:28PM (#14933981) Journal
      Funny site.. quoted from the end..
      Lots of Linux users want to play Linux casino games but simply do not know where to play. With the Linux Online Casino (888) you can play Linux slots, Linux blackjack, Linux Black Jack, Linux video poker and other Linux casino games. We are commited to Linux online poker players who want to play Linux Internet poker. We provide the best no download linux poker software. The sites listed on this page are the best places to play online poker for Mac where people can receive generous Linux poker bonuses!

      Way too many uses of the word Linux, and the find/replaced screwed up once and left Mac in there.
    • Re:The way I see it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by argoff (142580) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:49PM (#14934228)
      IMHO, this bill has nothing to do with gambling. It has to do with controlling the flow of offshore funds and gambling is just a nice sounding excuse sorta like terrorisim and the war on drugs. The real fear of the government is that people will protect their rights because it is so easy to move money and funds offshore outside IRS controll. In the old days, the war on drugs was enough to hold most average people in check, but now with the information age they need to resort to more desperate measures.
    • What national lottery?

      I'm not sure that the feds profit all that much from the dozens of casinos on Native American reservations, either. Or maybe they do...?
    • by Raven_Stark (747360)
      I don't gamble. However the control freaks in D.C. have gone beyond pissing me off with this crap and all the other loads of bull. I've been toying with the idea of becoming a citizen of another country. I seem to get a little more serious about it every day.

      Am I the only one thinking along those lines? Can anyone recommend a country? My ideal country wouldn't be hot, reasonable taxes, lowish cost of living, lots of freedom, easy immigration laws.
  • Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordBodak (561365) * <msmoulton@NoSpAm.iname.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:10PM (#14933759) Homepage Journal
    Our wonderful government sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.

    Contact your Reps and tell them to kill this crap.

  • Cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How's that "Land Of The Free" thing working out?
    What? No drugs, no hookers and no gambling?

    Still at least you get excellent TV shows ... oh? What? never mind.
    • I take it you haven't been to Nevada
    • Reminds me of a joke. A man is about to walk into a bar and he sees a bum near the door asking for money. He goes up to the bum.

      Man: If I give you $5, will you use it to get drunk?
      Bum: No
      Man: Will you use it to go gambling?
      Bum: No
      Man: Will you come home with me so I can show my wife what happens to people who don't drink and gamble?

      In all seriousness, I don't care. I'd prefer that they just legalize gambling online, through US sites only. And can't this bill be challenged as overriding states rights

  • Tribal Gaming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder how much support (contributions/bribes) for this law come from Abramoff's tribal gaming buddies.
  • by j_rhoden (214320) <rhodenr@@@gmail...com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:12PM (#14933786)
    Not the the bill actually cleared the House Financial Services Committee, not the House as the headline says. This means that it will go before the full House for debate.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:13PM (#14933805) Homepage
    The legislation carves out some exceptions, including wagering on horse races, governed under another U.S. law, and fantasy sports.

    Gimme 10 G's on the Shire Hobbits in the 3rd [movie].
  • by Tominva1045 (587712) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:14PM (#14933811)


    If the government could find a way to track it and then TAX it this would not be an issue.

    This is already done with alcohol, tobacco, and tangible items.

    Because they cannot capture the technology genie in a bottle they can't effectively tax it.

    And there are plenty of lobbyists working for taxable gambling interests who have issue with the wild-west of internet gambling as well.
    • It is taxed -- as income, just like all other gambling winnings.

      Of course, the casinos themselves are not taxed.
    • If the government could find a way to track it and then TAX it this would not be an issue.


      The thing is, they indirectly do tax internet gambling. If you win big and withdrawl that money there's an electronic trail. Sure, most people do not claim gambling winnings, but the IRS has 5 years to find that trail. Any significant amount of money will eventually be noticed. Sure, the government would like to tax it both ways (tax the business recieving the money, and the players who win the money), although I'm su
    • Actually, I think the issue of the money leaving the country is a bigger one. Lobbying from the casino industry is likely the impetus behind this. If they aren't allowed to have a piece of it, then they'd like to stop it from having a piece of them.
  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:16PM (#14933828)
    How does this affect the *really* big gambling sites, like NASDAQ and the NYSE?

    Ohhhhhh, not *that* kind of gambling....silly me.
    • Gambling is a game of luck, NYSE is a game of skill. NASDAQ I guess would probably have to go though.
      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:43PM (#14934146)
        Gambling is a game of luck

        Tell that to the people who play in the big poker competitions. See what they have to say about that.
      • Every company that's being traded could have problems that are unforeseen. It's still a bit of a gamble.

        Then, on the other hand, you have people that see horse racing as a game of skill. Yes, there's always the possibility that unforeseen circumstances will hit a horse, but it can happen on the stock exchange too.

        When you know people that own mansions on the beach, buy brand new BMWs each year, spend tens of thousands of dollars with you and still have over $100,000 to play with each year, you have to begin
      • NYSE is a game of skill.
        Your ideas are of interest to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
      • Gambling is a game of luck

        Yeah, but betting is all skill.

        I don't play online poker because I can't bluff people out, or read theirs. That makes it gambling, but in a casino or at a hall - it is recognized as a skill.
      • Gambling is a game of luck, NYSE is a game of skill.

        One could argue the reverse is true. In poker, skill is much more important than luck in the long term. And if you believe the efficient market hypothesis [wikipedia.org], stock markets are mostly luck. (Although with a positive expected value, unlike most forms of gambling).
      • Stock prices behave very much like unpredictably random motion. To reliably exploit the market you often have to know something the rest of the market doesn't know yet. But acting on insider (not public) knowledge like that is illegal because you're not supposed to cheat at gambling. :)
  • The funny bits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NosPAm.optonline.net> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:16PM (#14933835) Journal
    Major professional sports organizations supported the legislation, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, saying in a joint statement that sports betting "threatens the integrity of our respective sports."

    Buhwahahaha!! Can you say steroids?!? Can you say overblown contracts?!? There can't be a threat to something they don't have.

    A group called the Poker Players Alliance opposed the legislation as well.

    The Poker Players Alliance - a stalwart group of poker-playing heroes, determined to defend truth, justice, and the right to draw to an inside straight!

    • Re:The funny bits (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jtwJGuevara (749094)
      This is a troll and off-topic, but what exactly do "overblown" contracts have to do with sports integrity? The first word in "professional sports" is professional. Making as much money as you can in a profession is something every human being in an open market wishes to do (excluding entreprenuership). How do you make more money in professional sports - you play well and prove that to the organization you are playing for that you are worth the dollar amount that you are asking. How exactly does this eff
      • Making as much money as you can in a profession is something every human being in an open market wishes to do (excluding entreprenuership).

        That's fine as far as it goes. But tell me this: why should "professional" athletes get paid these millions when their college counterparts get paid nothing, for playing basically the same sport? Is a baseball player actually worth $20 million dollars simply because he's a good baseball player? If that's so, then why isn't a top-notch programmer worth a few million? Is

      • Sports Stars get their performance tracked in ways that would make a CEO wince.

        No performance, no money next time your contract is up for renewal.

        This creates an incentive to 'cheat'. Doesn't matter if it's steroids or what, but it takes away from the integrity of the game.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:17PM (#14933850)
    The bill, cleared by voice vote in the House Financial Services Committee, would prohibit a gambling business from accepting credit cards, checks, wire transfers and electronic funds transfers in illegal gambling transactions. Unlawful gambling, under the legislation, would include placing bets on online poker sites, for example, and any other online wager made or received in a place where such a bet is illegal under federal or state law.

    So, today, its legal to do money transfers for illegal gambling?

    So, today, in my state, the government is the only legal gambling outfit? (lottery)

    So, its illegal for me to do business in another country according to their laws?

    I don't gamble beyond retirement funds, insurance, and whatnot.

    Here is interesting, and typical situations from those that "win" the lottery: http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/ Savemoney/P99649.asp [msn.com]

    In the end, nothing will change. Offshore gambling will be no different.

    • Lotto (Score:3, Funny)

      by gatzke (2977)

      I wish we could go back to the days of mafia run numbers rackets. They usually had 80% + return when not fixed.

      Current state lottos are 50% return best case and taxable as well.

      And remember, that $5 NCAA tourney poool is technically illegal in most places, evildoer....

    • I wouldn't say that these situations are "typical" necessarily, as there are probably just as many "instant millionaires" who manage their money properly and have a lot to show for it. But it's far more interesting to talk about the person who won the state lottery twice and squandered all of the money and now has to live in a trailer.

      Of course, not everybody buys lottery tickets. I would suspect that a disproportionate percentage of lottery ticket buyers are people who don't have any money to begin wit
  • by tansey (238786) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:19PM (#14933880) Journal
    All this is going to do is encourage people to forgo using the direct deposit features most sites offer, opting for indirect funds deposits.

    Right now, most sites offer the ability to write an e-check directly from a player's bank account to the poker site. However, virtually all sites also offer deposit via Neteller or Firepay. Since the latter method is not traceable since the 2 companies are not based in the US, players will just opt to use that method now.

    So what this bill is effectively doing is encouraging people to launder how they cash in and out of poker sites. It will do nothing to stop people from actually playing.
  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by kraada (300650) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:21PM (#14933902)
    Doesn't the POSTER even RTFA these days? This bill cleared the committee. In fact, there's a line in the article which states:
    "The bill now moves fo the House floor for consideration."

    Not that it's impossible it will pass anyway, but please guys, get it right. It's not that hard.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:25PM (#14933955) Homepage Journal
    There is way too much puritanical bullshit going on with Congress and their attempt to bring on their desired theocracy. Problem is they are trying to do it a little too fast. Bill passes, who gives a shit? It's not like the US controls the internet and it's a token gesture. If there were an organized online gaming lobby that could pay off Congressmen this would have never seen the light of day. The US has the best government that money can buy. They are so out of touch with the mainstream (Terri Schiavo anyone?) that a major realignment is going to happen hopefully with the 2006 elections.

    Like the passage of the DMCA, it's just another example of a stupid congress that tries to legislate something that it knows nothing about.
    • A major realignment in Congress? A major realignment to what? The chances of the Green Party or the Libertarian party don't seem that good.

      If you are talking about a realignment to the Democrats, you will soon realize that the Democrats are as rabid nannie-state authoritarians as the Republics. If fact, placing restrictions on video games, websites, online gambling, etc., is one of those "centrist" issues that Democrats and Republicans usually join forces on.

      No, the only thing that will happen next election
  • by dtsazza (956120) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#14933994)
    The U.S. has just moved one step closer to banning all Internet gambling sites (my emphasis)

    Really? This is another example of jurisdiction over the internet being called into question. My first though on reading the article was whether restrictions would apply to the casino, the gamblers or both. I'd imagine they'd almost certainly apply to the casinos - make it illegal for casinos based on servers in the US to accept electronic payment - but would it also be illegal for US citizens to place bets?

    FTFA:

    By making it illegal to accept payments from people who live where federal or state law prohibits wagering, the legislation would impact offshore gambling Web sites used by many Americans to place bets.

    I don't see how this works. If a casino is outside the U.S's jurisdiction, they shouldn't be able to be held to any U.S. laws. Sure, you can outlaw this behaviour by making it illegal for a citizen to place a bet, or more likely by forbidding U.S. financial services (e.g. banks) from processing the request, but surely you can't affect those to whom U.S. laws don't apply?

    Or perhaps I'm wrong, and you can - in which case, I'm worried about the precedent that would set. Is there a limit to the extent a country can create laws that affect those who are 'unaffected' by that country's laws? To a certain extent it's reasonable, but since this case involves two jurisdictions, with the casino outside the U.S.' jurisdiction and the gambler essentially going to the virtual casino to do business, it seems unreasonable. It's like the U.S. making it illegal for Mexican casinos to allow Americans to gamble there...

    • I think you're on the right track. The people complaining about the US going against the WTO on this matter (if the US actually did, which the article submitter's sensationalism makes it hard to tell without spending more time than I have reading about it right now) need to realize that, as well. The US is not, as far as I can tell, trying to legislate foreign behavior. It has the power to legislate behavior that crosses the national boundaries or involves internal "interstate" commerce, but that's about
      • if the US actually did, which the article submitter's sensationalism makes it hard to tell without spending more time than I have reading about it right now

        The WTO did rule that the US couldn't prohibit online gambling, but it was later narrowed to only online horse racing, so the submitter is indeed wrong.

        And the WTO has no real power to tell the US not to. That's the beauty of being a sovereign nation.

        Here you are sorely mistaken. The WTO has the power to leverage punitive fines against the US if we don't
    • by Cederic (9623)
      Consider this scenario:
      I move to America, to a state where gambling is illegal.
      I connect to CasinoRouletteMillions.com (made up URL; may exist, I haven't checked)
      I place a bet using my credit card, on the digit 0, for my full credit limit.
      It doesn't come in.

      I contact my card company and demand they charge back the amount, thus clearing my balance.

      The casino can not challenge the charge back. The card is an American card; the transaction was under American laws. So either the casino accepts the charge back,
  • Im No Law Expert... (Score:2, Informative)

    by beedle (884951)
    I can see how the US government has the lawful ability to effectively block online gambling sites within the US. However I am not really sure about how they plan to prosecute these online gambling companies in a court of law in the US if they are based in another country. Im sure some countries might bend over for the US and extradite the offending company officials to the US to face prosecution, but I just cant help but think that there are alot of countries out there that would just as soon give the big m
  • by aphoenix (877085) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:33PM (#14934042)
    The great land of freedom seems to be moving much more towards a "freedom from" instead of "freedom of". I am greatly saddened by this - what was once one of the best places to live in the world is becoming a place of limitations and loopholes. They have lost most of their credibility with the rest of the world because of their hypocritical stances; "freedoms" are claimed, but not often given, "peace" is desired, but war follows. Online gambling is becoming prohibited, but the most American city on the planet is Las Vegas, the city of excess.

    This is the problem that happens when old men who are scared of anything new make decisions that affect other people. I am confident that the main problem with online gambling is that it is harder for the government to regulate than meatspace gambling. When the pie becomes virtual, it's harder for regulators to get their piece.

    I'm not a proponent of online gambling (or gambling in general, though I do participate in the occasional poker tournament or hockey pool), but I think that this sort of regulation is a little ridiculous. Legislate elsewhere, O Government, where you can be beneficial to society. Why not start on the patent system? Why not figure out how to respond to natural disasters? Why not just about anything else?

    The biggest problem here is that most of the politicans making decisions like this are old men that tend not to understand what they are making decisions about. The great hope for actual freedom in the USA is that, in time, the people will start to become more acclimatized to technology and will be able to make more informed decisions about the uses thereof.
  • jeez (Score:2, Funny)

    by fooslacker (961470)
    How am I ever going to win back my drug money, now?
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:35PM (#14934070)
    Who will pay to interrupt the Olympic closing ceremonies or buy grilled cheese sandwiches that look like Jesus??
  • Good. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fooby (10436) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:36PM (#14934078)
    It is absolutely ludicrous that an American citizen can become a billionaire running a gambling company that gets 70% of its revenues from Americans in America where this online gambling is illegal, and that this service is openly advertised all over the US media. The Partypoker founders should be extradited, charged, and their assets forfeited.

    Do you think I would get away with it if I moved to Thailand and set up a website partypot.com, selling baggies of marijuana to Americans? This is no different.
  • If your state has a lottery, it shouldn't have any say or bust people for gambling. People are getting social poker games raided by police in New York state while lotteries persist.
  • The first step in considering any technically-oriented bill should be to post it on Slashdot, and have everyone find the ways in which it is stupid.

    I'm guessing that the Internet Gambling bill is like the Internet Porn [wikipedia.org] bill. After the Internet Porn bill passed, the only porn available in the U.S. on the internet was on Playboy's web site and on the web sites of other traditional porn sellers. It was not difficult to guess that porn magazines paid congress people for the bill, which was soon overturned.

    Now brick-and-mortar gambling companies and maybe the lotteries run by states apparently want to restrict "gambling" to ways in which they can profit.

    There is no gambling in "gambling" or "gaming". If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose exactly the percentage they say you will lose. "Gambling" is a tax on those who don't understand the mathematics of statistics.

    Bills should be named by some other group than those who sponsor them. Maybe the Internet Gambling bill should be named the "More Profit for Las Vegas and Atlantic City Bill".

    --
    The movie Loose Change, 2nd Edition [google.com] claims, basically, that the U.S. government was overthrown.
    • There is no gambling in "gambling" or "gaming". If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose exactly the percentage they say you will lose. "Gambling" is a tax on those who don't understand the mathematics of statistics.

      You should probably qualify this with "Gambling against the house". Playing online poker against other players is not the same as pulling a virtual slot machine handle. I would liken it to other "games" such as golf, bowling, bridge, etc. Those who are skilled in the game have a decided ad

    • "Gambling" is a tax on those who don't understand the mathematics of statistics.


      Gambling is any behavior involving risking money or valuables on the outcome of a game, contest, or other event in which the outcome of that activity depends partially or totally upon chance or upon one's ability to do something. Those who do understand mathematics and probability are those who usually win. The state lottery, for example, is a tax on those who don't understand math. Casino's gamble just as much as their custome
    • "Gambling" is a tax on those who don't understand the mathematics of statistics.

      While I agree with you in the general case, I can think of hypothetical situations in which gambling is worthwhile -- where your valuation function becomes very non-linear. For example, suppose you were going to be shot in the head in twenty-four hours unless you could come up with one million dollars.
  • Bout time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:45PM (#14934176) Homepage
    We'll finally be able to send our glorious Justice Department commandos after those insurgent little old ladies playing Texas Holdum and otherwise not bothering a sole in the privacy of their own home. Without this law we would have never been able to move against the undesirable element in our society who keep to themselves, those bastards.

    Once we have the bulk of the population under the regulatory oversight of the criminal justice system we'll be able to force those godless, indecent hoardes into our nice, Republican cookie-cutter mold of outward piety and ethical lip service.

    Long live the Republican party! Long live the Justice Department!

    • Long live the Republican party! Long live the Justice Department!

      Humm... I guess I could vote Democrats for next election and have them protect me against violent video games.
  • by UttBuggly (871776) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:55PM (#14934279)
    ...this new legislation will certainly stop all that evil poker playing, won't it?

    Most credit card companies quit processing direct transactions to PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and Full Tilt in the last 12-18 months. I did find some local banks' debit cards will work on all 3 of those, but no majors like Visa and MasterCard.

    And as some have pointed out, FirePay and other indirect transactions will not be affected.

    The stupidity of this is that several major US casinos had on-line poker business plans in the works only to see the feds rain on their parade. If you had a choice to play online poker with a off-shore site or a "branded" U.S. site like Harrah's, which would you choose?

    The casinos would almost certainly give incentives and freebies for on-line players to visit their brick and mortar (or plastic and neon, if you prefer) locations, helping local economies while raking in TAXABLE revenue from both.

    This is a mostly useless law that will do little to impact on-line gaming in the U.S. (unless of course they contract the R.I.A.A. to kick in grandma's door while she's playing .5 / .10 cent No Limit on PartyPoker)

  • Every time I buy (or sell) something on E-bay I feel like I'm gambling on the true condition of the item, whether I'll even get it, and it the other party is going to conduct some sort of fraud against me. I hope this (ill-advised) bill doesn't kill online retail from small vendors and auctions.

    Heck, even when I buy something online from anything but a Tier I retailer (e.g., Amazon, NewEgg), I feel like I'm gambling with my money.

  • So when China bans things that hurt their government from the internet, congress calls in Microsoft and Google to harrass them for doing buisness there.

    But then when online gambling takes tax money away from the US Government, Congress immediately goes about making it illegal/impossible to access/use gambling sites on the internet.

    I guess I can always mail cash to the gambling site in a large manila envelope. Until congress makes a law telling me that I'm not even allowed to mail my own money where I
  • by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:12PM (#14934486)
    ... is because of the strong brick and mortar casino lobby. Native American casinos and Vegas casinos have a very strong (and well funded) lobby that pushes for this legislation every year.

    It just so happens that we have scummy enough politicians in power that are happy to make it happen.

    With internet gambling shut down the only place people will be able to gamble are brick/mortar casinos, and, of course, state sponsored lotteries.

    What you'll hear from these politicians is some baloney about gambling addiction, or maybe even the obligatory "what about the children!?" plea. I absolutely hate these people. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.
  • 1) Pass a new law which prohibits [insert act/service/item/business]
    2) Call up the people that do the [act/service/item/business] and set up some back room deals to overturn the law.
    3) ???
    4) Profit!

    Lawmaking has become a very profitable occupation for our elected officials!

  • It's HR 4777. Maybe. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:38PM (#14934750) Homepage
    First, this seems to be HR 4777, the "Internet Gambling Prohibition Act". There are some other bills related to Internet gambling, but this is the one that's in committee right now, and it has 130 cosponsors, so it's going to move forward, not be ignored. When posting a story about a bill, please list the bill number.

    Second, the Congressional bill status system [loc.gov] says that today's action so far is "Introductory remarks on measure" in the House Judiciary Committee. It's not shown as passed by that Committee yet. Nor is it shown as being referred to the House Financial Services Committee at all.

    Third, the bill is notable for what it doesn't have. It doesn't, for example, make credit card debts for gambling unenforceable, or prohibit banks from cooperating in money transfers for that purpose. That would actually work, but the banks wouldn't like it.

  • Gambling is a mistake, but I should be allowed to choose to make my own mistakes.

    I guess we'll have to stick to stock trading and gambling away our savings in the government's own lotteries.
  • Wheel of Fortune (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:55PM (#14934937) Homepage Journal
    Jack Abramoff's casino clients pay "Christian" Republican politicians to write laws cutting out competition. Internet gambling is a big threat to their innumeracy scams, so of course there's a law against it.
  • Most credit cards won't accept a transfer request from an online gambling site. Ditto with most banks. The risk of fraud, laundering, etc., is too great.

    So what most sites do is offer the ability to transfer money from an online holding/escrow service (think PayPal, Firepay, etc.). I don't think this bill would affect that much. They couldn't ban you from using these services because they serve an actual purpose. Could you imagine if people were no longer allowed to transfer money from their bank/credi
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:34PM (#14935429) Homepage Journal
    After all MMORPG farmers pay a fixed monthly buy-in and rely on random events to win prizes that they can then sell on ebay for lots of money. It'd tickle my sense of fancy if the first company pursued under this law (Should it survive to the president's desk) were Blizzard...

    For the most part I doubt it'll affect online poker players all that much. Most of them think that it's illegal now.

  • by Genom (3868) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:19AM (#14940976)
    Pachinko.

    Basically a form of gambling in Japan, where outright gambling is illegal. How do they skirt it?

    One company allows you to buy balls. You give them money, they give you balls. Then you take the balls over to the pachinko parlor, where you can use the balls to play. When you win, you receive more balls back. They don't allow you to buy/sell the balls there. No money changes hands. When you're done, you go back to the ball-vendor, who "buys" your balls back.

    The ball-vendor and the pachinko parlor are two completely seperate businesses, legally. That way, you're not *technically* gambling. Because the transactions are abstracted, it gets around the anti-gambling laws.

    I could see something similar happening with online gambling. Get an account with some "chip" vendor, where you buy online "chips", which are strictly defined as being worthless (EULA type stuff). Then go to a (legally seperate) gambling site which just *happens* to allow you to use those chips, but doesn't directly allow you to buy-in or cash-out, so no money is actually changing hands. When you're done, you cash-out your account with the chip-vendor.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.

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