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US Gambling Law May Cause Flouting of IP Laws 231

Posted by Zonk
from the tit-for-tat dept.
Red Flayer writes "Slate Magazine reports that the US's recent actions to clarify restrictions of on-line gambling may have some very important unintended consequences. Antigua has challenged the legitimacy of the US's partial restrictions under the WTO, claiming that the laws represent a free trade infringement. What is so significant about this is that Antigua would be fully justified (and I imagine, would get a lot of support from other nations) in ignoring the US's patent and trademark laws. Freetrade.org has a more in-depth analysis (albeit with a predetermined opinion on the topic). Pre-register now for your copy of Antiguasoft Vista."
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US Gambling Law May Cause Flouting of IP Laws

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  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#16876088) Homepage
    You realize - if Antigua or anyone else - claims we are violating Free Trade and goes ahead with ignoring IP, we will have no choice but to assign them to the axis of evil and then invade.

    Actually the article was interesting. I wondered what kind of mess the recent online gambling act would create. Oh, and I read, too, that it doesn't anywhere prohibit US firms from creating gambling sites aimed at foreign markets.

    Interesting world, we live in here with the interweb...
  • Re:Well sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:17PM (#16876850)

    Gambling at casinos is very tightly regulated by the government.

    This is true for native reservation casinos, but I'm not sure it applies to casinos within regular land. Vegas, for example, answers mostly to the Nevada gaming commission, not the feds.

    Though, that said, I have to say that I personally think the real reason the government now forbids online gambling is because they don't get the tax revenue from it.

    I don't think you understand how our government works. It doesn't act in the best interests of the government, per se, but in the best interests of the individuals running it. The government is happy to give away billions in subsidies if it means they get a few hundred grand donated to the party campaign fund.

    If you've been following the news maybe you've heard about the recent lobbying scandal where a lobbyist who works for many different groups including a consortium of casinos was busted for bribing members of congress. Hmmm, what could those casinos be bribing members of congress to do? What is it they might want? Maybe outlawing the competition?

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:26PM (#16876994) Journal

    Conversely, if it takes a gambling issue to end "Free Trade", so be it. Any real economist will tell you TANSTAAFL. If people would quit worshiping at the altar of Free Trade, we might actually collect sufficient fees at ports of entry to inspect more than 2 percent of all the cargo that comes in to this country. And no, I'm not talking about terrorists either. Anybody ever add up the economic impact of Chestnut blight, fruit flies, zebra mussels and all the other trade-borne pests? These things never appear on the balance sheet of any Free Trade advocate. We can ammortize that cost slowly, with just enough tarrif to fund a worthwhile inspection and regulation of import/export, or we can shift that cost away from the import/export companies towards the general population, and pay the unpredictable costs of ecological disasters. I prefer the former, but nobody cares, and nobody will listen.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:37PM (#16877164) Homepage Journal

    From the second FA:

    Gambling and betting services are the second-largest industry in Antigua and Barbuda, after tourism

    If the U.S. effectively outlawed the second largest industry in my country but permitted it in its own, yeah, I'd be upset, too. Remember, gambling isn't illegal in the U.S. In fact, neither is online gambling. Betting on horse racing and online gambling within a state is protected under the law that was recently passed.

  • by JazzyJ (1995) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:45PM (#16877268) Homepage Journal
    1) The US government clearly has the authority to make it illegal for a US citizen, inside the US to gamble, on or off the internet. Such laws already exist and have existed for MANY decades.

    No, actually they don't. The federal govt. would like you to THINK they do, but the reality is the US Govt cannot do so. The laws that existed prior to what got snuck into the safe port act have to do with interstate gambling. e.g.: Me, in Missouri, placing bets on the phone to a bookie in California. They can't pass a law that makes online gambling illegal in all 50 states because they don't have the jurisdiction to enforce it anywhere except DC, guam, puerto rico, or other federal -territories-. States are sovereign in that respect.

    The STATES themselves do have the authority and -do- have the laws that prohibit gambling anywhere other than what's spelled out as legal in the gaming laws within that state.

    That all being said, me doing something in the privacy of my own home, between consenting adults, is fine so long as no one's constitutional rights are violated.... is our business...and not the state or the federal govt.
  • by Lanoitarus (732808) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:56PM (#16877400)
    >

    I don't think you understand how credit cards work, let alone this law. The law makes it illegal for any company with OPERATIONS in the US to faciliate payments between US citizens and gambling sites offshore. This does not mean just US companies. For instance, my HSBC (Which is a UK company) credit card is also prohibited from doing this. Technically, if a company with zero US presence were to give me a credit card, they would be allowed to do as they wished--- but without a US presence, how would they bill me?
  • Re:Antiguasoft Vista (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:24PM (#16877718) Homepage Journal
    Not quite.

    Yes, the US *could* either try (1) to make imports from Antigua illegal, or (2) to try to impose tariffs on such goods.

    In any case, Antigua can still sell to other countries. Also, the law or the tariff can come under judgement from the WTO again -- and, again, the US would lose.

    And continue to ignore the WTO (Canada and the softwood lumber dispute -- its happened before)

    Yes, the WTO may be seen as "toothless" by the US, but understand that Europe and China could simply aquire Microsoft/Disney/... goods through Antigua. These companies would be hurthing bad... and the hurting will be put back into policy. Soften up on the gambling; that's Antigua's livelyhood. Or, eliminate on-line gambling. Take your pick, US, you can't have both.

    Ratboy
  • by Red Australian (1026364) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:27PM (#16877756)
    The fact that Antigua stood up to the americans. Where is the rest of the world? Is everyone else really that scared of the US? America stinks of things like this. They are just upset that so much money is going overseas. Imagine if every country did that? Made it illegal to buy american products. Imagine that, if the whole world united and said we would not buy american products, gun crime and drugs would drop massively wouldn't they?
  • Re:Internet gambling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IslandAce (975170) on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:38AM (#16881320)
    This might have been true in the "dark ages" of Internet gaming/gambling - today, however, most of the "big" names in the business are:
      - Publicly traded (many on the London Stock Exchange)
      - Using 3rd party consulting companies to veryfiy their fairness (such as Price Waterhouse Coopers)
      - Members of eCOGRA (the self-governing body of online gaming operators)

    Besides this, all of them ARE licensed AND regulated. Many are licensed in Khanawakee (sp?), Malta, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. Not exactly third-world countries with rampant corruption.
    It's a very US thing to do - believing that noone but the US could possibly be trusted to license and regulate financial transactions (maybe with the exception of Switzerland...), and that since the companies aren't based in the US they must be doing something illegal. All the while, we outside of the US can't believe our eyes when pretty much every election in the US ends with court-decided results and blatant miscounts. It's pretty hillarious actually, but in a very sad and a bit scary way.

    To actually comment a bit on your comment - the Internet is a wonderful thing, where self-regulation can actually work (see Slashdot...). Governments don't need to prevent "Ponzi-style operations". Should they become a problem, the community will find a way to regulate itself or go under - pretty much Free Economics 101.
    And any casino that returns 99.99% of the money bet to the players would be totally incredible...

    Oh well.
  • Re:Internet gambling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by philg (8939) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:52AM (#16883746)

    An online casino has none of these. You can operate out of a basement somewhere. No rules, no oversight, no regulation.

    You suffer from the misperception that entities opereating outside United States law operate outside all law. This is not the case. Many online casinos are based in England, which regulates them heavily to ensure fair play. The same is true of Antiguan casinos. If the government does not regulate (and therefore certify) the fairness of the casino, there will be significantly diminished revenue as many, many people go elsewhere. This is especially true of internet casinos, which provide absolutely nothing other than gambling; at least in a hypothetical crooked B&M casino, you could eat the buffet or watch the shows or something.

    The reason these governments do all this, of course, is that they get to tax the casinos. So your argument that the government doesn't get tax revenue also suffers from the "U.S. government == all government" fallacy.

    Even a quasi-legitimate operation that returns 99.99% of all money bet would have incredible payoff to the operator.

    You just described how slot machines and almost all table games work in completely legal (i.e., not "quasi-legal") casinos, except that they get to keep more than .1%. Most of these games are complete chance -- which, ironically, provides the most reliable profit since player skill cannot skew the probabilities.

    The exception to this is games where people compete with each other to capture part or all of a pot which they build by wagering; in that case, the casino takes a commision (e.g., a "rake" or a "vig") and lets the players fight it out among themselves. The casino doesn't care if these games can be influenced by skill; they make no money on who wins the game. The textbook examples of this is poker and prop (e.g., sports) betting.

    Assuming you are a voter somewhere, I urge you to educate yourselves on how gambling works before making any votes that might influence or be influenced by it.

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