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US Outlaws Online Gambling 579

Posted by kdawson
from the you-bet-your-life dept.
imaginaryelf writes, "As reported earlier on Slashdot, in the closing hours of the US Congressional session on Friday, September 29, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (H.R.4411.RH) was attached to the Safe Port Act of 2006 H.R.4954.EAS. To the surprise of many, the bill passed both the House and the Senate, and Bush is expected to sign it into law this week. This effectively outlaws online gambling in the US, by way of making it illegal for credit-card companies to collect payments for bets. The financial markets punished the stock of online gambling companies as some prepared to pull out of the US entirely."
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US Outlaws Online Gambling

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  • Circumvention (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:23PM (#16280535) Journal
    It seems (and I've never used a gambling site before and I don't advocate breaking the law) that to get around this, all you have to do is deposit the money to a "legit" offshore intermediary who then places your bets in your stead. Unless the government wants to audit all offshore businesses for gambling, everything looks kosher and compliant with the law. What am I missing?
  • Sour Grapes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheWoozle (984500) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:24PM (#16280567)
    Congress is just upset that they can't effectively tax online gambling because most of the companies are offshore. It's a case of sour grapes - if we can't tax it, you can't do it!
  • by Facekhan (445017) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:28PM (#16280659)
    A brick and mortar casino gaming license wouldn't be quite as lucrative a give away to the wealthy and well connected if they had to compete with online casinos that anyone can set up overseas. Lets face it, a legal casino in an area where gambling of most forms is illegal is basically an ATM machine with flashing lights.

    In my state the hypocrisy is reaching new heights as the GOP governor continues to try to allow slot machines at horse tracks while it is still technically illegal to play poker among friends.
  • by HUADPE (903765) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:29PM (#16280693) Homepage
    Well, your rights were being trampled before, and now they closed the loophole by which you were able to secure your right to waste your money. Gambling is stupid, no doubt (you WILL lose), but you SHOULD have the right to make your own stupid decisions. Just because a government is tyrannical does not mean its people don't have rights. They are just having their rights significantly violated. The greater question here is where was the credit card lobby. They are going to lose serious money on this (1% fee on $12bn of transactions, PLUS the fact that people who gamble tend to have high debt and revolve credit at high interest rates).
  • by D-Cypell (446534) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:30PM (#16280725)
    How on earth is it legit to tack a completely unrelated bill to another and pass them both under the same vote? Am I the only one who sees how unbelievably insane that is?

    Surely anyone voting against the bill will be blasted for not securing US ports, even when it was a vote in protest to the anti-gambling legislation.

    The way the US government goes around telling the world how to run their 'democracy' is so incredibly laughable at this point.
  • by TheGreek (2403) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:30PM (#16280729)
    It just so happens that a promo is going on that gives the user 100 free 'tokens' when they purchase a shirt.
    And how do you get your winnings out, Kreskin?

    Another free shirt?

    Pass.
  • by Sierpinski (266120) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:31PM (#16280733)
    More than anything, this is a prime example of how members of Congress manipulate the legislation system to get a bill they want pass to ride on the coattails of a 'sure-win' bill. Then after that they basically pass the buck off to the courts (if it ever makes it that far) to overturn the law or declare it unconstitutional or whatever.

    I think its about time that Congress get off their lazy asses and start drafting their own bills for the particular agenda items they have. This sort of manipulative behavior itself should be outlawed, but find me a single member of Congress that would vote to outlaw it. In a system where checks and balances are supposed to exist, they certaintly don't here.
  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:32PM (#16280751) Homepage
    The hypocracy! Aren't these the same people yelling 'Global Economy' at the top of there lungs, and signing free trade agreements with every country that has cheap labor. I guess the world economy only counts if it give the U.S. and advantage.
  • YRO aside, it is currently illegal is gamble in most of the United States anyway, except certain states and indian reservations. So, in this case, I don't really feel that anyone's "rights" are being trampled

    Rights do not depend on laws; either to grant said rights, nor can rights be revoked by law. If something is a right then it's something
    you can do without asking anybody's permission, period. You can voluntary accept the authority of some entity (maybe called "government" or something) to restrict *your* rights if *you* want to, but don't make the mistake of assuming that govt. has any inate authority to restrict anyone else's rights.

    As such, I will say that free people have a "right to gamble" and have most likely never granted the United States government - or any other government - any authority to restrict it. As far as I'm concerned, any law restricting gambling is invalid, null and void and should be ignored.

    Basically it goes back to the old saw... "We have exactly as much freedom as we are willing to demand and as we can defend."
  • Worse Problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:33PM (#16280777)
    How are they going to stop all that online stock market speculation?

    Don't try to tell me that the return on investment is guaranteed, or that business ventures aren't a gamble, because they are. 90% of businesses fail in their first year.

    Anyone want to bet that online casinos will be targeted by this law, but Wall Street will remain strangely exempt?
  • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:36PM (#16280827)
    I don't see a legitimate reason for gambling to be illegal. If someone wants to gamble, smoke, shoot themselves in the foot, or whatever, let them. And no, you don't have to force everyone else to support a safety net for them in the form of (publicly funded) rehab or health care. As for the "think of the children" bunch: if they have kids whom it's negatively impacting, take them and give them to someone who can take care of them.
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:38PM (#16280863)
    Why should the U.S. allow foreign companies to suck money out of the U.S. economy

    Because that's what The People want? Does there need to be any other reason?

    Remember, government derives its power from the just consent of the governed.
  • by partenon (749418) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:38PM (#16280875) Homepage
    Let me just remind you something: internet is worldwide. Internet is not *american*. So, if online casinos would need US government license to operate (and pay taxes), so, should I presume that online casinos also need brazilian license and, of course, pay brazilian taxes?
  • Ah, but they will (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:39PM (#16280893) Homepage Journal

    5 will get you 10 they won't enforce it.

    They'll have the legit online gaming community look after it for them -- the big casino companies, who have the most to gain from this. I bet you don't have to look very far to see who really was behind this. It's not about money laundering, it's about a big business keeping it's slice of the pie.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:39PM (#16280903)
    Since the bill will make it illegal for credit card companies and other financial institutions to be involved in such transactions, it seems to be a refinement of target. Formerly the individual could be targeted, but that would be expensive and ineffective. Ten thousand charges could be brought forth without impacting the number of violations significantly.

    If you shut down the payment options, you will greatly reduce the number of violators. It's an effective way of achieving their goal.
  • by Pasquina (980638) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:42PM (#16280997)
    That's how you get people to pass legislation that isn't popular - you attach rider bills to attract more votes. Some people would always vote for the "tacked on" part even if the bulk of the bill wasn't popular, while othersacceptefer the main part and simply accept the unrelated parts. I know it doesn't make sense, but if each individual idea brought before Congress was voted on its own merits, not nerely as much would make it into law.

    ...OK, so that barely makes any sense at all, but that's still how it is.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:44PM (#16281029)
    You're looking at the problem in reverse. The reason these companies are off-shore is because of the laws in place by the US. Its like me trying to open up a winery during the prohabition. It'd be plain stupid. Why would these people host gambling sites in America if its been illegal from the get go? If they're pissed off that the economy is loosing money, then they could change the laws which would encourage local gambling. They won't so this is the only viable solution to plug the hole.

  • by BattleTroll (561035) <battletroll2002@yahoo.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:51PM (#16281211)
    According to http://www.polocenter.com/travel/lotteriesus.htm [polocenter.com] there are currently 37 states that allow gambling. They call it a 'lottery' but it's really just a glorified numbers racket. That doesn't stop the states from operating them, now does it?

    If the federal government is in the business of outlawing gambling, they should do it across the board. Otherwise, they should stick to matters within their charter - national defense, negotiating international treaties, and protecting interstate commerce.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:52PM (#16281229)

    Sounds like an ideal opportunity for organised crime.

    Fine with me. The mob knows how to run things when it comes to gambling. Vegas was great under them. Just don't over extend your credit. ;-)

    Mr. Joe Average could show up and get treated like royalty. My dad used to get comps walking into a casino just to use the rest room. The cocktail waitresses were TOTAL whores. It was great. :)

    Then the soulless hotel corps took over, and I would not be suprised if they start charging you for the air you breathe in the hotel rooms. 6-5 payoff on a blackjack? Christ, just tie me down and rape me. It's more direct.

    MBAs and politicians! Exterminate! Exterminate!

  • Re:Circumvention (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:55PM (#16281265)
    What am I missing?

    The fact that the NSA and IRS keep a close eye on all bank transactions between U.S. citizens and foreign banks to look for money-laundering?

    -Eric

  • by Poppler (822173) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:01PM (#16281403) Journal
    How on earth is it legit to tack a completely unrelated bill to another and pass them both under the same vote? Am I the only one who sees how unbelievably insane that is?
    I've been thinking about this. Maybe we could pass some sort of "common sense" law, which would allow any one congressman to challenge a bill. Some third party, perhaps the judicial branch (or maybe even a jury), would make the judgement as to whether or not the bills are reasonably related.
  • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:07PM (#16281517) Homepage Journal
    Exactly. But apparently credit card companies don't have a right to process your payments to the casino.

    This law does, however, bring up a point that I think needs to be addressed by a constitutional amendment: All bills should be reasonably related to a single subject. Also, politicians that tack an amendment like this on to an unrelated bill should be publicly tarred, feathered, and barred from office for life.
  • by paranode (671698) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:13PM (#16281627)
    Yup it's a common scheme in Washington and it is one of the most corrupt things that needs to be fixed. Between term-limits for Congress and a new rule that says only one topic can be addressed per bill, I think we could stamp out a large part of Congressional corruption and pork spending.
  • Re:hooray. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:18PM (#16281729)
    Let me just remind you something: internet is worldwide. Internet is not *american*. So, if online casinos would need US government license to operate (and pay taxes), so, should I presume that online casinos also need brazilian license and, of course, pay brazilian taxes?


    Yes, they CAN host Online Casinos somewhere else, and the U.S. can't do anything about it. BUT, the government took a very smart approach, knowing that they can't enforce their laws on foreign countries (therefore foreign web-hosts), they instead are prohibiting Credit Card companies inside the U.S. to process any transactions related to online bets.

    I have to say I am indeed impressed by the approach legislators took upon this issue, and IMHO online gambling isn't something I trust (with all the experienced black hats out there Im sure more than one can crack the security in those servers), and who doesn't like the free food/drinks at the casinos :P
  • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:22PM (#16281811)

    why was a bill needed?

    Because elections are six weeks away.

    Social conservatives are a fickle electorate. In order to ensure they turn out, Republican strategists toss stuff like this out there to appeal to them.

  • by east coast (590680) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:24PM (#16281855)
    The way the US government goes around telling the world how to run their 'democracy' is so incredibly laughable at this point.

    "at this point"? Dude, just because you've finally opened up your eyes to see it doesn't mean it's new. This has been going on for a long time.

    Don't act like 90% of what slashdotters bitch about and pin on Bush is "new", it's just the fact that something has you pissed off and you finally are starting to see what has pissed the rest of us off for so long. What's the saying about those who forget the past? What about the ones that never knew the past?

    The unfortunate thing? by the time the Dems take back power a new generation is going to be moving in and getting pissed at the same exact antics under a new banner and they're going to be saying the same thing and voting against President X thinking that the other side wouldn't do the same thing because they were too young/naive to remember the last time the other party did the same thing. It's a piss poor cycle of events and there will never be serious reform as long as people keep seeing politics on this same level.
  • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tired_Blood (582679) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:43PM (#16282159)
    I disagree. Congress already has an effective manner to tax all forms of gambling, in that even though the IRS wouldn't be able to collect from the casino, individuals would still have to report their winnings to them on the 1040. The IRS will still collect, just not as much.

    However, I see this as mostly about competition with brick&mortar 'destinations'.

    Without a monopoly on gambling, where would Las Vegas be? Without Las Vegas, where would Nevada be?

    I feel that this business model monopoly is the real reason. If you could gamble from home, you would be less motivated to visit such locations, and that would hurt other industries. The money made from the tax on actual gambling (from both casinos & patrons), while significant, is a fraction of what would be lost overall if these destinations were to lose their monopoly status. At a minimum, you'd need to also account for the sales tax lost on gas/travel, lodging & dining when doing the comparison.

    And finally, include the number of voters that are employed by these industries. That number is the real currency in politics.

    Anyway, there's more to this than just reduced gaming-tax revenue.

    (Sorry if this post is oddly written - I blame it on the caffeine)
  • by lgw (121541) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:55PM (#16282375) Journal
    Can you? Sure. Can you do it and come out ahead? That's a different question.

    The Pachinko parlors don't use items that you'll ever find in a catalog (no one's that stupid), they'll either use odd lots, where the items are all defective in some similar way, or buy the entire run of some item that flopped commercially, or I guess they could even do custom orders with an exclusive contract, but that's pricey.

    As for having them fabricated yourself, oddly-shaped cast plastic doo-dads come from expensive molds, so you'd have to make thousands of dollars worth of fakes or there'd be no point. Stealing thousands of dollars from a business almost certainly connected with organized crime is perhaps not the safest way to make a living.
  • by kthejoker (931838) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:03PM (#16282511)
    Are you kidding? Our founding fathers would be horrified at the current group that calls themselves liberals, too.

    Homosexual marriage?
    Equality of the races?
    Women voting?
    Women working?
    All the sex and violence in the media?

    They may not have been fundies, but they were still proper gentlemen of the 18th century.
  • by Jaeph (710098) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:23PM (#16282841)
    My version s/steal/gamble/:

    -----
    As such, I will say that free people have a "right to steal" and have most likely never granted the United States government - or any other government - any authority to restrict it. As far as I'm concerned, any law restricting stealing is invalid, null and void and should be ignored.
    -----

    I'm closest to a libertarian in philosophy. I too do not like rules restricting gambling (along with most "victimless" crimes, e.g. seat belt laws). However, your argument is so generic as to be pointless, IMO.

    -Jeff
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:28PM (#16282949)
    So you're saying that the CC companies need this law to protect themselves? That is absurd. If they needed protection, they would have enacting this on their own and been done with it. There is no need for more useless laws.
  • Re:hooray. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Il128 (467312) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:41PM (#16283197) Journal
    This is not a "Liberal" law. This is a Republican law. It isn't about protecting the people. This law is clearly about protecting the brick gambling establishments from the virtual ones. Perhaps you should review how and why laws are created in America?

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abramoff

    This law is more about PAC money than it is about morals or people.

    How could anyone think otherwise? It isn't like the law effects the mother you describe. What you think she hasn't already pawned everything? Do you really think laws that involve money are passed to protect people from themselves? BS! What about this law?
    http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/10/bankruptcy.htm [ftc.gov]
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:S.256 [loc.gov]:
    What is really telling about this law is that the wealthier you are the more debt you can escape and the poorer you are the less debt you can escape. Laws to protect people from gambling. Please. They don't care about people.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:05PM (#16283629) Homepage Journal

    Actually, the issues are:

    That the government is not my mommy; ethically the government has no right to say what I can do with my own money until I directly use that money to hurt another citizen or it is extremely clear that I intend to do so; legally the government has no right to say anything at all with regard to gambling, because I never gave it any such right, nor have I authorized anyone to do so for me. The government is out of control, operating illegitimately, unconstitutionally, unethically, and "compliance enforcement" is in fact coercion backed by enormous, life-ruining power.

  • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:10PM (#16283733) Journal
    As a Canadian, we've learned the hard way that free trade = americans trade for free. Numerous appeals panels over the past decade have consecutively proven that Canada does not unfairly subsidize our softwood lumber, yet there's a huge tariff imposed at the border. We won all the appeals, and guess what? US policy is basically 'you can't make us stop'. WTO takes years (decades?) to allow for counter-duties and tariffs, which essentially peanlises your own citizens for unfair trade practices.

    So while American lumber continues to destroy spotted owl habitat, all the cheap + BETTER QUALITY lumber (words of the US housing industry, not mine) remains unharvested. Congrats american consumer - you lose too!

    The US always has, and always will, be a big bully on the global economic scene. The question now is whether that advantage trickles down to the american consumer, or if the new robber barons can re-establish their hoovervilles.
  • politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {erauqssemitelcric}> on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:11PM (#16283751) Homepage Journal
    it's all about who wins and who loses. all of these gambling companies that lose because of this are offshore, a lot in the UK i believe. the winners are inbred social conservatives who will celebrate this with a game of bingo at the local church (laff!)

    american congresscritters are not elected by british businessmen, so the heck with them. if it were american businessmen that stood to lose because of this, it would have never passed. but as it is, american businessmen can't start these sort of businesses because of laws pushed by said inbred social conservatives to begin with... inbred social conservatives usually from areas of the country with riverboat casinos. the hypocrisy of it all. it's potectionism of outdated gambling modes: las vegas, atlantic city: they serve to lose from online gambling

    so this isn't about morality after all in the end folks, it's about business, and this whole bill is a giant stinking turd of protectionism. protecting us all right into luddite obsolescence, where british companies will profit from what american compnies should be profitting from in the first place!

    why don't we just shorcircuit this entire retarded effort by the congresscritters and just become amish. then we will be protected from the evils of electricity too. let the british profit from evil electricity insted. pffft
  • by kfg (145172) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:30PM (#16284973)
    . . .we need to put some teeth in the founding documents, I guess.

    That was supposed to be the Second Amendment, but mommy doesn't like us playing with toys that might put somebody's eye out.

    Especially if that somebody might be mommy.

    KFG

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