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US Outlaws Online Gambling 579

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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  • by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:25PM (#16280593)
    According to the bill's title, the act was already illegal and all it is doing is enforcing it. If that's the case, why was a bill needed? Shouldn't it have been law enforcement's problem?
  • by bluelip ( 123578 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:26PM (#16280625) Homepage Journal
    Possible circumvention?:

    The companies sell you a t-shirt. The cc companies can process that payment. It just so happens that a promo is going on that gives the user 100 free 'tokens' when they purchase a shirt.

    Mike Coles
  • by bryz ( 730558 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:27PM (#16280631) Homepage
    The Way I understand it is, you put in some money and play with that. Will they now block being able to get your money back out. And with online casinos looking to close their US operations will they just take the money in these accounts with them?
  • Re:Circumvention (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:27PM (#16280637) Homepage Journal
    The only drawback I can see is you might end up in an offshore prison [] without access to a lawyer or any due process, since the only reason you would do this is to fund terrorist attacks, right?
  • it's so sad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:29PM (#16280701) Journal
    the the legislature of my country is so incompetant, to get something they want passed, they have to tack it on to something completely irrelevant.
  • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blob Pet ( 86206 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:35PM (#16280821) Homepage
    Actually, many of the U.S.-based casinos have been advocating for regulated online gambling which would allow for the US government to tax the industry. Companies like MGM would like to open up gambling sites but can't. Even UK-based companies have stated that they'd be more than willing to pay taxes to operate legally in the US.
  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:38PM (#16280865) Homepage
    I'm frankly surprised that the credit card lobby didn't kick up a bigger fuss on this. They stand to lose millions in user fees and interest. While I think anyone that gambles on credit is a fool, the credit companies were happy to enable such behaviour.
  • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:38PM (#16280881)
    Several of the large companies operate out of the UK. In fact, the executives of these companies are BEGGING the Congress to regulate the industry (regulate != shutdown). Who ever heard of an industry that's willing to pay taxes? But that was all tossed away by those "moral" GOPists.
  • by aldheorte ( 162967 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:39PM (#16280883)
    So, if I pay $15 a month to subscribe to a massively multiplayher game where I get some amount of starter virtual currency, and the game has as a subset of functionality a mechanism through with I can gamble my virtual currency, and a mechanism exists to transfer that virtual currency into real currency through eBay sales or some process officially allowed or even serviced by the massively multiplayer game maker, is my subscription illegal?
  • YRO aside, it is currently illegal is gamble in most of the United States anyway

    Rubbish. It's currently illegal to gamble on certain outcomes (sports, card games, etc.), while being legal to gamble on other outcomes (share prices, for example). It's a completely arbitrary distinction, that has no logical rationale. Either you believe that gambling is immoral and should be banned or you don't. To selectively allow some types of gambling while banning others is just bizarre.

    Disclaimer: I make my income from online gambling, so I probably have a certain amount of bias. Currently very little of that is with US bookies, so this will have very little monetary impact on me. But it's still a stupid decision.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:46PM (#16281107)
    cash gambling is illegal in japan, but guess what pachinko does?

    you purchase and play with small b.b. sized metal balls, and the payout is in balls.
    you can exchange these for a number of prizes, including small tokens.
    within a block of the pachinko parlor, there is a shop that buys said tokens. []

    it's already been done.

    personally, though, I'm glad online gambling is illegal. i live in Vegas. the local casinos pay most of the taxes.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:49PM (#16281175) Journal
    Its not as much gambling as it is a game. Now slots and stuff are made to take your money, but a good poker player can make a living.
  • by Fezmid ( 774255 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:50PM (#16281183)
    There's already something like this in place for at least one poker site. You buy a phone card from them (it's a valid phone card) and then you transfer the minutes into your account for money.

    If you win and want to cash out, they mail you a check.
  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:50PM (#16281189)
    Actually, gambling is legal in most states (ever heard of your state lottery?... many states also allow casinos) althought it is highly regulated.

    The issue is that online gambling is not regulated by the US or US states and is in competition with US companies.

    I think this legislation has much more to do with competition than morality...

    Ever hear of a lobbyist named Abramoff? He bought and sold politicians to protect his gambling clients... he got caught but our corrupt politicians are continuing the game.

  • Re:Worse Problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xentor ( 600436 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:53PM (#16281247) Homepage
    I read through the text of the law (Yes, I'm very bored), and it looks like it defines wagers specifically as those that are based on chance (i.e. roulette, cards, etc) or a single competition (i.e. betting on a football game).

    It excludes things that are based on statistical returns (They're allowing stuff like fantasy football), and a few other things.

    So I don't think it covers the stock markets.
  • Re:hooray. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Library Spoff ( 582122 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:55PM (#16281271) Journal
    Channel 4 news here in the UK just had a report on this. It said it was in part pressure from the US casinos that's pushed this bill. The UK is opening up to US casinos to allow them to open `Supercasinos` - we'll have to see now what happens there, should they go ahead if British companies are not allowed a level playing field?

  • by GrayCalx ( 597428 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:59PM (#16281367)
    While we're all so impressed that you're keeping track of our politics, rest assured most of us don't care what you have to say on the matter.

    Keep in mind, as MANY have already posted and you apparently decided to ignore in your reading, online gambling is already illegal in the United States. Its been illegal for years and very possibily made so under a Democratic President and/or House and Senate. All they've begun to do now is apply pressure to the financial system that supports it.

    Also since you've demonstrated you're so up-to-date on American politics I'm sure you know of the campaign funding by Brick-and-Mortar Casino lobbyists to both Democratic and Republican representatives. Who's votes, you could argue, were bought to destroy the infrastructure supporting online casinos.

    So while I appreciate so much seeing your nose in our business, I'll vote for the best candidate for me and my state be it Democrat or Republican... not because of what some foreigner tries to tell me about the laws and statutes within my own country.
  • Yawn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deblau ( 68023 ) <> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:06PM (#16281497) Journal
    (A) IN GENERAL- The term `unlawful Internet gambling' means to place, receive, or otherwise knowingly transmit a bet or wager by any means which involves the use, at least in part, of the Internet where such bet or wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State or Tribal lands in which the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.
    (B) INTRASTATE TRANSACTIONS- The term `unlawful Internet gambling' shall not include placing, receiving, or otherwise transmitting a bet or wager where--
    (i) the bet or wager is initiated and received or otherwise made exclusively within a single State;
    (ii) the bet or wager and the method by which the bet or wager is initiated and received or otherwise made is expressly authorized by and placed in accordance with the laws of such State, and the State law or regulations include--
    (I) age and location verification requirements reasonably designed to block access to minors and persons located out of such State; and
    (II) appropriate data security standards to prevent unauthorized access by any person whose age and current location has not been verified in accordance with such State's law or regulations; and
    (iii) the bet or wager does not violate any provision of the--
    (I) Interstate Horseracing Act;
    (II) Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act;
    (III) Gambling Devices Transportation Act; or
    (IV) Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
    * * *
    (E) INTERMEDIATE ROUTING- The intermediate routing of electronic data shall not determine the location or locations in which a bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.

    Whatever. You can thank the boundaries of the Interstate Commerce Clause for defanging this beast. Expect gambling sites to set up bank accounts in each of the states where online gambling is legal under state law, and direct all traffic from gamblers in a state to servers in that state. This accounts for most if not all states.

    All this law does is make internet gambling sites shell out a few (hundred) thousand dollars for server upgrades and a minor software patch. Yippee.

  • by Atheose ( 932144 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:29PM (#16281953)
    A good idea in theory... but a jury? So in other words you want to put all the power in the hands of lawyers to misguide the average joe Americans on the jury? Congress has been tacking on extra laws for years. The reverse, where someone tacks on a vastly unpopular law in order to kill the entire thing, is called a "poison-pill bill". It's actually how women got the right to vote--it was tacked on to kill the entire bill, but it passed anyways!
  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ayertim]> on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:00PM (#16282457)

    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?

    Oh, it's a lot more than that. Casino's shave 1-2% from what goes through their system (not sure exactly how much, but certainly relatively little). Lotteries take something closer 50% of the cash that goes through them and generally encourage the less wealthy to participate...
  • by daveo0331 ( 469843 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:16PM (#16282719) Homepage Journal
    That used to be the case, until the B&M casinos saw how many people were going to Vegas for the World Series of Poker after winning online satellites. The whole poker boom, which B&M casinos are making a lot of money off of, would never have happened without online poker.
  • Re:hooray. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:35PM (#16284139) Homepage
    Question #1: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker?"

    5% 90% 4.5% 0.4%
    49 868 43 4

    Question #2: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker in Las Vegas?"

    5.5% 90.7% 3.3% 0.5%
    53 874 32 5

    Question #3: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker in Casinos on Indian Reservations?"

    8.3% 86.6% 4.6% 0.5%
    80 835 44 5

    Question #4: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker for charitable fundraisers?"

    8.1% 86.9% 4.4% 0.6%
    78 838 42 6

    -Page 1 of 2-

    Question #5: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker on the Internet?"

    18% 74.2% 7.4% 0.4%
    174 715 71 4

    Question #6: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker in the privacy of your own home?"

    3% 94.7% 1.8% 0.5%
    29 913 17 5

    Question #7: "Do you believe the federal government should be managing Americans gambling behaviors on the Internet?"

    26.9% 66.1% 6.4% 0.6%
    259 637 62 6
  • What?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @09:34PM (#16286827)
    If this had ANYTHING to do with concern for the weakest and poorest members of society, then we should start by banning the lottery, and for that matter, predatory tactics used by banks and credit card companies.

    After the dot com crash, my business failed and I went largely unemployed for almost two years. I went from having stellar credit and over $50,000 in cash in my bank account to ruined credit and about $40,000 in debt, with interest continuing to accrue. Not a week goes by that I don't receive several offers in the mail for "pre-approved" credit cards, offering minimal $300 credit limits in exchange for annual fees of as much as $80, interest rates of 21%, increasing to 30% if I so much as make a single late payment or go a penny over my limit, and acknowledging that they can increase my interest rates at any time if they see fit, even if I am making timely payments to their account.

    All this, while Congress voted to restrict my ability to declare bankruptcy and make a new start. Notice how crooked companies got no new restrictions on their ability to go bankrupt and swindle millions from their customers, investors, and customers.

    I have no interest in gambling, but it is insulting to suggest that this anti-gambling law has ANYTHING to do with concern for the little guy. This is all about protecting THEIR TURF..

  • Gambling Illegal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:43AM (#16287911)
    But if you purchase a lovely T-shirt from the caymen islands for $1000 on your credit card, you get online gambling credits free with your purchase!

    Seriously, the law won't actually do anything to stop gambling, but it will acomplish two very important things:

    1. You can know that your elected representatives are "doing something" about gambling! It is very, very, very important that your elected officials are seen as "doing something" about a "problem".

    2. The laws are probably written loosly and vaugly enough to allow the government to arbitrarily punish any credit card company they want. This is good for politicians, as credit card companies have a lot of money to give to political campaigns in exchange for protection.

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