×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A Push To End the Online Gambling Ban

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the let-disintermediation-have-its-way dept.

Businesses 205

Hugh Pickens writes "Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would roll back a ban on Internet gambling enacted when Republicans led Congress. The legislation would allow the Treasury Department to license and regulate online gambling companies that serve American customers. Frank's bill has roughly two dozen co-sponsors and the backing of the The Poker Players Alliance, with over a million members. But opponents are mobilizing to defeat the bill including social conservatives and professional and amateur sports organizations, which say more gambling opportunities could threaten the integrity of their competition. 'Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age,' says Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama and the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee. Another powerful roadblock could be the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. 'Gaming is an important industry to the state, and anything that affects it will be reviewed carefully,' says Reid's spokesman."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

205 comments

Think of the children? (1, Interesting)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101663)

Not that I know of.

I have seen people pay for skyrocketing college tuition with winnings from online poker.

ATTENTION! The UNABOMBER has ESCAPED PRISON!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28101707)

Details here [ytmnd.com]

MOD PARENT UP, like maybe INTERESTING (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28101751)

...or insightful since she is of course fat!

Re:Think of the children? (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101721)

And how many people failed to attend college because they, or their parents, gambled away the college fund? I'm not saying gambling should be illegal, I just think it's silly to argue for gambling the perspective of the winners (and only the winners).

poker is NOT gambling (0)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101953)

Yes you are right about gambling.

But poker is not gambling. It is a game of skills. And back in the days when it was still legal, many kids were playing it in my university's library. Kids were very good in that game, compare to some mid-age old man. That is how college become possible, and even have some chance of graduating debt-free, which is very rare nowadays.

Re:poker is NOT gambling (2, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102021)

I'd argue there are four factors involved in poker (once you master the core rules):
  1. Skill with probability
  2. Skill with reading people
  3. Skill at hiding your own tells
  4. Luck

Given that #2 and #3 are substantially less useful in online poker, it's closer to gambling that it is to a "game of skill," particularly for the vast majority of the population with less than stellar probability skills (see the entire population of people playing the lottery).

Again, I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to gamble, just that it's a tad silly to argue it from the perspective of the winners.

Re:poker is NOT gambling (1)

gvaness (1360119) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102221)

Given that #2 and #3 are substantially less useful in online poker, it's closer to gambling that it is to a "game of skill," particularly for the vast majority of the population with less than stellar probability skills (see the entire population of people playing the lottery).

I disagree. With online poker you can play mutiple tables and don't take nearly as long dealing and handling chips. This makes the number of hands played sky rocket, evening out the effects luck will have on your game. Luck really only effects short term results anyway, make the same decision enough times in the same spot, and your results should converge on expected.

Wrong (3, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102295)

Given that #2 and #3 are substantially less useful in online poker, it's closer to gambling that it is to a "game of skill," particularly for the vast majority of the population with less than stellar probability skills (see the entire population of people playing the lottery).

Incorrect. You're presuming that all four factors are equally important. But in reality, especially at low-stakes games, skill with probability (#1) is far more important than any of the others.

Poker is a game of situational tactics and strategy. Luck is a factor because you don't know which cards are going to come next, but on the whole it's still a game of skill, because skill is what lets you recognize good bets and stay away from bad bets.

Overall, luck is no more important to poker than it is to investing in stocks or selling insurance. You never know exactly what the outcome will be in any particular case, but you have a damn good idea of how likely each outcome is, and you can plan for that in the long run.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102473)

What if all of the players of a game have the same skill at probability?

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28103025)

What if all of the players of a game have the same skill at probability?

Then the other factors become more important.

"Skill with reading people" exists in online poker. Contrary to popular belief, "reading" isn't only (or even mostly) about recognizing facial expressions or body language to figure out whether someone has a strong hand. It's also about recognizing patterns of action: a raise means a lot more coming from someone who's folded his last 10 hands than from someone who raises 50% of the time, for instance.

"Skill at hiding your own tells", therefore, also exists in online poker. But it's not about maintaining a poker face, it's about being unpredictable. Or even better, being just predictable enough to give your opponents a false impression that you can use to your advantage. If you're the guy who's folded the last 10 hands, you might conclude that it's time to raise even with a bad hand, because your opponents will believe you have a good hand based on your past behavior.

Now, what if all the players at the table have exactly the same skill level in all these areas? In that case, luck is the only thing separating the players, and it's time to find a different table, because no one can expect to come out ahead.

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 4 years ago | (#28103263)

Investing in stocks is a game of luck unless you have the resources of buffet or lynch. It's a random walk and no amount of studying of historical data is going to predict the future. Remember when world comm was a sure thing and nothing could ever unseat the car companies?

Re:poker is NOT gambling (2, Insightful)

bnenning (58349) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102563)

Given that #2 and #3 are substantially less useful in online poker

Physical tells are unavailable, but they're overrated anyway. Identifying the betting patterns of your opponents (and making your own patterns not obvious) is more valuable and works just as well online.

Re:poker is NOT gambling (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#28103309)

Absolutely right.

And if it were a game of luck we wouldn't see the same people winning consistently over the course of years. Those players are good at the game.

Re:poker is NOT gambling (1)

samwhite_y (557562) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102587)

This common fallacy comes up again. Poker is not just an estimation of probabilities. Poker is a raw and pure example of a very complicated multi-way "game theory" problem. Such problems are far from NP-complete (not computable in polynomial time relative to number of inputs on a computer) and much more interesting than they might first appear. Nobel prizes in economics have been given for insight into such problems. There is a book called "Mathematics of Poker" (those interested can do a Google search) which uses Poker to introduce game theory. Please read that before trivializing the theory that underlies poker.

A good poker player models his or her opponents and then creates optimized exploiting strategies -- strategies which are far more sophisticated than you might first imagine (once you have started giving up chances to raise up pots with strong hands in order to catch bluffs you have started down the first step of this long road). This optimization takes into account that your opponents are trying to exploit you and how well you believe you have misled them. The skills to master this are not too different from the skills required by a chess grandmaster (the analogy is not exact -- poker is more like a large look up into a vast reservoir of experience than a deep computational think, but an expert can beat up an non expert very quickly -- even a non expert who knows all the odds).

Re:poker is NOT gambling (2, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102711)

(see the entire population of people playing the lottery)

I don't play the lottery to win. I play so I won't have to tear my hair out if the first week I stop my numbers would win big.

Re:poker is NOT NOT gambling (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102281)

Poker is not a pure game of skill. It is a gambling game that requires skill as well.

The random ordering of the cards obviously has a major impact on the outcome of a single game. In the long run the average outcome can be significantly affected by the players' relative skills, but the variance of results still grows (i.e. in reality you do not get to divide your winnings or losses by the number of times you played and so your undivided result does not converge to the average). A good player who gets dealt a few miserable hands they can't do much with is not guaranteed, nor more likely, to subsequently receive a run of good hands to "make-up" their average to their "theoretical performance level".

If you think poker is a pure game of skill, why don't you allow the deck to be completely "fixed" by the dealer? After all, if the random distribution of cards doesn't affect the result, why do you need it to be truly random? You may as well say that horse-race betting is a game of skill as make that claim of poker because careful analysis of the history of the horse and the condition of the track can give you information on who is going to win.

The multiple rounds and concept of "bluffing" in poker makes it harder (but not impossible) to mathematically analyze (and virtually impossible to do so mentally during a game). As it is not really possible to work out the optimal move mentally, the quality of a player's approximate heuristics (built up by experience) is an important factor to consider. The gap between a novice player who has not had enough experience to build up heuristics and an expert who has developed heuristics covering most situations is large enough that it may seem that skill is the only significant input, but at its base poker is still gambling.

Re:poker is NOT gambling (0, Redundant)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102649)

Yes you are right about gambling.

But poker is not gambling. It is a game of skills.

That's true. And yet for every group of six people who sits down at a table, five of them lose.

Re:Think of the children? (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102245)

And how many people failed to attend college because they, or their parents, gambled away the college fund?

That is an argument which is sometimes made by the anti-gambling people, but really how many specific cases have their been where parents gambled away junior's college money? It seems to be a popular cautionary story that happens rarely in practice (i.e. a variation of the "think of the children" fallacy). This type of logical fallacy has a long and colorful history in our legislature, and it is easier to appeal to emotion rather than logic (i.e. "if you are against me then you are against the children, how can you be against the children?"), but that doesn't make the tactic right. The more that we use emotional arguments in our national policy the greater the damage that we do to our constitution and the values that our nation was founded upon.

I'm not saying gambling should be illegal, I just think it's silly to argue for gambling the perspective of the winners

Fair enough, but did you know that the US is presently in violation of the WTO treaties on trade with our present gambling laws? The treaties say that you can either ban all gambling or allow it, but that if you allow it then you must allow foreign competition (i.e. offshore internet gambling). In fact, a small caribbean nation (Antigua) actually won a WTO action against the United States on this very point and the United States is currently racking up fines and damages payable to Antigua for violating the treaty. What makes the whole thing doubly interesting is that Antigua has requested an unusual remedy, namely the privilege of ignoring US copyrights on movies, music, software, and other creative products produced in the United States.

I think of the children, just not the ones you do (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102623)

And how many people failed to attend college because they, or their parents, gambled away the college fund?

But think of all the casino owner's children that got to go to college as a result.

Re:Think of the children? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28101749)

But even more shocking is that Vista SP2 disables Vista OS X, and sends gays niggers to your house if it detects Vista OS X.

Re:Think of the children? (4, Funny)

omeomi (675045) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101779)

allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age

Even if they did--for some odd reason--forget to make internet gambling specifically illegal for minors, what kid has a line of credit that's sufficient enough that they can gamble online for long enough to create an addiction?

Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise

Gotta love arguments against legalizing things that are based entirely on the fact that they are currently illegal... Then again, I live in a state where gambling is legal, so long as you're on a body of water (no matter how small), so it's not like any of this has ever made much sense...

Re:Think of the children? (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101933)

Agreed. This bill is not going to "allow illegal offshore Internet gambling sites to operate unfettered", it is going to legalize regulated internet gambling.

Re:Think of the children? (3, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101979)

it is going to legalize regulated internet gambling.

As someone who remembers the phrase "the internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it", I have to ask, exactly what IS "regulated internet gambling", how does one tell it apart from "unregulated", and exactly how do you stop the "unregulated" from taking place?

Re:Think of the children? (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102173)

Regulated gambling pays taxes to the regulating government, unregulated gambling pays it to some other government(where it is considered "regulated") or not at all.

Unless they can figure out a way to region-code gambling and keep all the money, they'd rather make it ineffectually illegal.

I'd rather have legal gambling and keep some of the money, than illegal gambling and have some island in the Pacific get everything, but apparently politics has little to do with rationality.

Re:Think of the children? (2, Insightful)

fullmetal55 (698310) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101935)

exactly, might as well ban the sale of playing cards too. I know many many kids who's introduction to gambling was playing poker with their buddies for pennies...

Re:Think of the children? (2, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102067)

I know many many kids who's introduction to gambling was playing poker with their buddies for pennies...

I'm like that too. Except I never moved on from the pennies, I realize that in official settings the odds are heavily stacked against me, and do not view gambling as a source of income.

I also have a limit on my losses, and once I hit that, there's nothing short of a gun to my daughter's head that will make me play that night again.

Re:Think of the children? (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102685)

I realize that in official settings the odds are heavily stacked against me, and do not view gambling as a source of income.

Only if you are talking about slot machines, roulette, blackjack, and the poker knock-off games. There are no odds stacked against you in poker or betting on sports games.

Re:Think of the children? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102339)

so it's not like any of this has ever made much sense...

Politics and logic are like oil and water, they don't mix well in practice.

Re:Think of the children? (-1, Troll)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101813)

you can also pay your college tuition by pimping your ass out to barney frank. He likes young boys (under 20) with tight assholes. If you don't mind a 70+ year old man giving you a rimjob and sucking you off, give barney a call.

Re:Think of the children? (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101941)

Of course you wouldn't see all of the people who lost all of the money with which they could have paid tuition because they're no longer in college and out of site. It's similar to how Congress critters like to talk about taking millions of tax dollars to spend on some pet project which will create jobs or infrastructure. Of course they fail to see the jobs or infrastructure which will not be created due to the collection of those taxes or the fact that they cannot be appropriated towards some other project.

Assuming that in the best case scenario the online casino collects no fees for using their service and takes no percentage of the pot from a tournament, but is solely run through advertising revenue, then the game is zero sum for all of the players as a whole. No one player can win any more than the collective losses of all other players. Sure there are the winners who get to pay off their tuition, loans, etc. but there're also the losers who just lost their rent money, child support payment, etc.

Stock Market (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102043)

The point I am making is, why don't they ban the stock market as well? It is gambling, and a lot of people went bankrupt with that. There are some cases where college students borrow money and 'invest' in stocks recently. You can probably guess what happened to those people.

Re:Stock Market (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102345)

The stock market isn't necessarily zero sum (things like dividends inject new monies). So a portfolio heavy in dividend paying stocks with healthy balance sheets doesn't in any way resemble any actual game. Many people do choose to be less conservative than that.

Wanna Bet? (4, Funny)

shma (863063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101665)

50 bucks says the bill fails.

Re:Wanna Bet? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102377)

In fact there are websites in Britain where you can do just that, put out custom bets (i.e. Bin Laden, captured or killed by MM/DD/YYYY) and get other users to take you up on them. You can bet on just about anything were the outcome can be determined as long as you can find someone willing to take the opposite side.

Re:Wanna Bet? (1)

shma (863063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102581)

Yeah, most of us in North America are familiar with prediction markets like Intrade [intrade.com]. Those aren't considered gambling sites, since what you are actually doing is trading a contract that pays out if the event happens. I can illustrate the difference between this and a bet with an example.

Say I buy 1000 contracts of "Bin Laden to be captured by end of May 2009" for 5 cents each. Each contract pays out 100 cents if he is captured. Now say tomorrow the BBC reports that the US has engaged Al-Quaeda in a region in Pakistan where Bin Laden is thought to be hiding. Some people interpret that as a sign that the US is close to capturing Bin Laden and they start buying the same contracts. The price goes up to 25 cents per contract. I can then sell my contracts for a 200 dollar profit. I can do this whether or not they actually find him in the end (although I'll be kicking myself if they find him and I sold at 25 cents). On the other hand, if I make a bet of 50 dollars at 20:1 odds that they find Osama by the end of May 2009, and they don't, then I lose that money.

Re:Wanna Bet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28103149)

Bin Laden, captured or killed by MM/DD/YYYY

Shouldn't that be DD/MM/YYYY if it is in Britain?

Re:Wanna Bet? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102625)

One to One odds?! Madness!! If I'm gonna be a part of turning my beloved /. into a "criminal enterprise" you'd have to give me at least 5 to 1 on that. That bill is as dead-in-the-water as a casino boat off the coast of Somalia...

welcome to the age of the internet (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101699)

if you don't allow it, it just moves offshore and continues uninterrupted, resulting in nothing but your own businesses not getting a share of the pie

Re:welcome to the age of the internet (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101783)

Actually, that's not what happened. The previous bill made it illegal for credit card companies to send payments to online gambling sites, so no, it didn't move offshore. The WTO actually ruled it was an illegal [washingtonpost.com] when we tried to ban the payments to offshore online gambling parlors, but to my knowledge, we just ignored them.

Re:welcome to the age of the internet (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102171)

What happened was the gambling sites just ignored the US - in fact here in the UK they make so much money they're sponsoring TV programmes and can afford primetime advertising. It's a huge industry ready and waiting to move in.

Of course the US has killed its own online gambling industry stone dead, so it'll all be foreigners making the money, but... isn't that what the politicians wanted? Oh, it wasn't? Um...

Re:welcome to the age of the internet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102231)

Actually, that is what happened. I'm a European playing online poker legally on a number of online sites. Immediately following the ban just about all the US players disappeared; within a few weeks the stronger players started trickling back (I guess these were the ones making money regularly, so they had an incentive to find a way around).

Now these sites are back to at least the level of US players they had before the ban, so I imagine the methods of circumvention have filtered down.

Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (3, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101777)

" 'Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age," says Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama and the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee.

Wow, the doublethink [wikipedia.org] boggles the mind.

If the gambling ban is repealed, these sites would immediately cease to be "criminal enterprises", and become legal offshore Internet gambling sites.

If the gambling ban is repealed and these sites chose to operate "unfettered within the United States", they'd then become legal, American gambling sites.

The whole fracking point, Rep. Bachus, is to eliminate these "offshore criminal enterprises". By making it legal, you can bring them onshore, where they can be taxed and regulated, just like state lotteries and privately-owned casinos.

Speaking of privately-owned casinos, at least Sen. Reid of Nevada has a "legitimate" reason to be a roadblock: He just doesn't want to see Vegas have any competition.

The dumb part about Reid's objection is that the legalization of online poker would bring a lot of new players into the game. Some of 'em might even end up enjoying it so much they end up going to Vegas to play the game in meatspace. Quit acting like the RIAA of gaming, buddy, and you just might make a few more bucks.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101989)

The point is that many, or most by some estimates, of the online gambling sites are run my organized crime networks in off-shore tax havens. They help launder money and create new money that is then funneled to other enterprises, like buying stolen goods, weapons, drugs, etc. I'm all about freedom on the internet, but cracking down on organized crime is a good thing IMHO.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102247)

Not really. Online gambling is legal just about everywhere except the US. It's also taxed and regulated - no incentive for organised crime to get involved as it's a huge very profitable industry.

You can launder money in Vegas too.. or, much easier, just have an insider in a bank.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102691)

It's also taxed and regulated

Which is why most of them are registered in tax-free offshore financial centers. They're owned by anonymous International Business Companies with bearer shares. Most of these places have few laws regarding these kind of things and respond kindly to cash incentives. Some regulation.

no incentive for organised crime to get involved as it's a huge very profitable industry.

That's precisely why organized crime gets involved, Einstein. Money for nothing and your chicks for free.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102875)

Which is why most of them are registered in tax-free offshore financial centers.

Yea, I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with the fact that it would be illegal for them to register in the good 'ole USA. Yup, sure as can be.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102841)

The point is that many, or most by some estimates, of the online gambling sites are run my organized crime networks in off-shore tax havens. They help launder money and create new money that is then funneled to other enterprises, like buying stolen goods, weapons, drugs, etc. I'm all about freedom on the internet, but cracking down on organized crime is a good thing IMHO.

But they're done in offshore tax havens so that US citizens who want to play poker online, can do so without getting "caught".

If I'm buying books, I'd rather give my credit card number to amazon.com, not ammaz0nn.ru.

By the same token (heh!), if I'm playing poker, I'd rather play at a US-based company with a cert signed by something like "poker.state.nv.gov", rather than poker.vegas.nv.

That can't happen until it's legalized. Ending the prohibition is the only way to drive the money launderers out of business.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102017)

What reason would these alleged criminal enterprises have for coming into the fold if all it brings is additional regulatory red tape and taxation for their business? The fact that they're offshore makes them somewhat difficult for the US to touch and as far as I know there really hasn't been much in the way of legal action brought against these websites.

Even if the gambling ban is repealed, why should these websites submit to some authority when it's clear from their current position that they obviously don't need to do so. Wouldn't it be more profitable to remain some kind of 'criminal enterprise' that the government can't do anything about, given that if they could you'd already be out of business?

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

Hott of the World (537284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102863)

Money. Lots and lots of money. More so, than what they can aquire in their current state.

It reminds me of the World of Warcraft localization in China. Blizzard had to change a large portion of its content and put a timer on time spent playing it for the Chinese government to ok it. Blizzard changed its Chinese version, satisfied the government, and raked in a huge segment of players willing to fork over money.

I'm sure any amount of "regulation and taxation" would be outpaced by the huge revenue from the millions of new people looking to gamble online.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

Mattazuma (1255022) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102045)

I think Reid will end up backing the bill. The big casino companies would love to buy Party Poker and the other big poker sites if they are legalized. They already have their own online gambling sites overseas.

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102465)

If the gambling ban is repealed, these sites would immediately cease to be "criminal enterprises", and become legal offshore Internet gambling sites.

No. There is also the current problem of off-shore casinos reneging on paying their largest winners. To make off-shore gambling more legit, we would need to make those enterprise bonded (or insured) with actual assets in the US that could be taken away and given to the winners in case of breach of contract.

And while we're at it, we'd probably also need some kind of auditing process, to make sure there is no other type of in-house cheating designed to cheat customers out of their winnings (that being said, don't ask me how to do that last part, that's not my field).

Re:Captain Oxymoron to the Rescue! (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102489)

By making it legal, you can bring them onshore, where they can be taxed and regulated, just like state lotteries and privately-owned casinos.

Actually, you wouldn't need to bring them onshore to do that. Gambling can be taxed under WTO rules as long as onshore and offshore gambling are taxed equally. In fact, the US is currently under WTO sanctions because our gambling laws are at odds with our treaty obligations with regard to gambling.

Speaking of privately-owned casinos, at least Sen. Reid of Nevada has a "legitimate" reason to be a roadblock: He just doesn't want to see Vegas have any competition.

Pure cynicism if ever there was such a thing; its hard to be more blatantly biased than that.

The dumb part about Reid's objection is that the legalization of online poker would bring a lot of new players into the game. Some of 'em might even end up enjoying it so much they end up going to Vegas to play the game in meatspace.

It is not the role of government to ban activities which people might enjoy too much, even to their own detriment. The lives of individuals belong to those individuals and it is not the damn business of the State to tell two people that they cannot gamble, have sex in a peculiar way, smoke, drink etc. It was supposed to be a free country people and that means freedom to make the "wrong" choices (or choices that some might judge to be wrong) as long as such choices do not infringe upon the abilities of others to make their own free choices (i.e. no violence or coercion). I really dislike people who try to run or control the lives of other free thinking and independent adults because they represent the tyranny that our founding fathers and generations of our soldiers shed blood to escape from.

So... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28101793)

Barney Frank was offered a large campaign contribution by gambling interests.

Nevada (4, Insightful)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101799)

I don't think Nevada has a lot to worry about in the realm of online gaming. Brick-and-mortar casinos offer a lot that online gaming can never provide. Casino gambling may be the cornerstone of the Nevada economy, but it has diversified to the point that other gaming enterprises do not appear to directly compete, in the form of fine dining, entertainment, and all that Vegas has to offer.

For instance, if you've ever driven North on I-15 on a friday afternoon out of California, people go to Vegas in droves despite that California has easily accessible Indian gaming with all of the same games/slots (except for Sports betting) that Vegas casinos do.

The Internet might take a small portion of the market for gaming, but the lion's share save up their "gambling budget" and take a trip to Vegas or a local casino/resort for the experience of all the non-gaming activities and gamble in an environment that makes it fun even when you're losing.

Now, if the internet could comp you free beers in the comfort of your home, Mr. Reid can start to worry.

Proposal to Alleviate Heavy Traffic on I-15 (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102161)

I've been thinking about all that heavy bumper to bumper traffic on I-15 every weekend. I have a proposal that will alleviate the heavy traffic, reduce air pollution and consumption of fossil fuels. Additionally, it would provide a badly needed economic boost to southern Nevada and California (which have both been hit badly by the recession). It would be an effective use for some of the Federal stimulus money and would help both areas benefit from foreign tourism, thus reducing the national trade deficit. The idea: Build a high speed rail from Las Vegas to Disneyland. :-) No seriously.

Re:Proposal to Alleviate Heavy Traffic on I-15 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28103095)

That sounds a lot like this plan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California-Nevada_Interstate_Maglev

Re:Nevada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102401)

The indian casinos have self-regulated machines (i.e., each casino has its own gaming commission) and some have had software problems (e.g., dead touchscreen spots, machine doesn't register the button press and spin the reels until the button is pressed again [possibly affecting the outcome since the RNG supposedly picks the number when the button is pressed], machine hangs and has to be rebooted).

Las Vegas is more strictly regulated, since apparently the Clark County gaming commission regulates all of Las Vegas.

Each indian casino also has no significant stores or anything else outside of the immediate hotel/casino area except for maybe smallish general stores or taco shops. Las Vegas has several different casinos within walking distance of each other, and has much more elaborate restaurants and stores all along the Vegas strip.

Yes, it's a multi-hour drive to Las Vegas, but it's a better overall destination than driving winding two-lane mountain roads with no other viable options adjacent to a specific indian casino just to go from casino to casino.

Indian gaming, overall, sucks. Yes, it's closer when compared to the initial drive to Las Vegas, but it still sucks.

Vice laws. (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101833)

How about we also end the drug and prostitution ban? Just saying.

Re:Vice laws. (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102005)

How about we also end the drug and prostitution ban? Just saying.

Fine by me, so long as the machine gun bans are also lifted.

Re:Vice laws. (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102049)

I really want to hear your reason for linking those two together. I can't wait to tear it apart.

Re:Vice laws. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102047)

I was a little hasty. To be fair to Barney Frank, he did introduce a bill [wikipedia.org] that would have legalized small amounts of marijuana at the federal level. Of course, that got nowhere.

Re:Vice laws. (3, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102219)

he did introduce a bill that would have legalized small amounts of marijuana at the federal level

Wait.. so only the feds would be allowed to smoke weed?

That'll help recruitment...

Compromise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28101855)

Let internet gambling be perfectly legal. Don't *endorse* it though by making the police and courts enforce payments.

50/50 (4, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101869)

I'm torn. Part of me detests censorship and state interference, my belief is that people can make up their own minds as to what's harmful.

On the other hand, since the US Gambling ban the whole World has seen a dramatic reduction in the most obnoxious flashing gif adverts since punch the monkey.

Do I hate censorship or annoying flashing ads more...? Honestly I really don't know...

Re:50/50 (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102059)

I realize that you're being facetious, but you can get rid of the obnoxious flashing ads through a simple [mozilla.org] browser add-on, wouldn't it be better to get rid of the censorship?

Re:50/50 (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102533)

Get AdBlock [mozilla.org] instead and legalize online gambling. There is no need to compromise your freedoms just to avoid having to punch the monkey.

Here's an easy solution (1)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101875)

I've got a simple way to deal with online gambling without banning it. Just put in place limits on the financial liability. If it's really "think of the children" then just make it like contracts. A minor can enter into a contract but the contract isn't enforceable, so who in their right mind would bother?

If the law makes it clear that an online casino can't collect from a minor then there's no motivation for them to try to get a minor hooked so the whole "think of the children" argument falls apart.

As for people over 18, screw 'em. If they want to dig their own grave then let them lie in it. I wish the government would get out of the business of protecting people from their own stupidity. It's a losing battle.

Re:Here's an easy solution (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101965)

Sounds like a good idea. I was pretty fed up with how gambling came to Iowa, but since the Genie is out of the bottle, I say equal opportunity. Why not allow the stupid tax to hit everyone. Just make sure gambling losses are non tax deductable, and that they tax the bejesus out of the online casinos.

Re:Here's an easy solution (1)

anaphora (680342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102013)

The best way to keep children from accessing online gaming Web sites is to strictly require that all operators employ the best is class age-verification software. This can only be done through a licensing approval process and regulation. The UIGEA does not use the best way to prevent underage gambling and protect children.

Re:Here's an easy solution (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102167)

This would work up until someone gets the bright idea of letting their sixteen year old kid play online poker. If the kid wins, the father and son collect the winnings. If the kid loses, then obviously they can't lose because the person playing wasn't an adult. Illegal as hell, but who can really prove things one way or the other?

Here's my own wonderful idea: why not provide a free site where minors can gamble with money that isn't real. Instead they can hone their skills and use their funny money points towards some kind of booby prize. Of course what we don't tell them is that the site is really designed to monitor the amount of time spent playing and their behavior so we can tag the ones that are clearly addicted to gambling and get them the help that they need before they fuck up their own lives or drag anyone else along with them. Compulsive and obsessive gambling is every bit as serious of an illness as alcoholism and this would be a good way to identify the people who are susceptible to this behavior before it causes any real damage.

Of course, one could argue that we're just making our own monsters at that point. But this is precisely the reason why the government is most likely show a certain amount of keenness towards the idea.

The .net versions of online gambling sites (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102715)

Here's my own wonderful idea: why not provide a free site where minors can gamble with money that isn't real. Instead they can hone their skills and use their funny money points towards some kind of booby prize.

I believe that site is called PartyPoker.net.

Re:Here's an easy solution (1)

InMSWeAntitrust (994158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102215)

"If they want to dig their own grave then let them lie in it."

If we are to consider gambling as an addiction, are you also a proponent of allowing other kinds of addicts to go untreated? I agree, the less the government actually governs the better, but I think to offer some sort of program that's state-funded could help the system perpetuate itself less. Plus the funds can come from the casinos, making the addicts pay for their own treatment, creating no more stress for the government than is needed.

And I find it self-centered that you do not care for the financial security of your fellow man, while that fellow man may clean your streets, make your food, run your hospital. If only it were so easy.

It could pass (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101881)

If you ask me it is outrageous that we have given our government the power to even be discussing whether people should be allowed to make a choice to gamble, online or not. It is simply not any of the government's business what I do with my money as long as I am not hurting anybody else.

But that aside (a big issue to put aside, but anyway) I wouldn't be so sure that the bill won't pass. As we see all over the country, state governments have been steadily allowing more and more gambling purely as a way to increase the tax revenue in difficult times, so the trend is towards more gambling, not less. The way they see it is not as an issue of rights through. What they see is all this money going out to overseas companies without the US government being given a chance to keep a share for itself, which in their mind is the real crime here.

Re:It could pass (1)

Jophiel04 (1341463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102241)

The current law on the books doesn't make the act illegal. The law makes it illegal for financial institutions to transfer money to/from internet gambling sites.

Strictly speaking, this is fully within Congress' rights to regulate interstate commerce which is explicitly granted by the Constitution.

Your assertion about it never being the government's business about what you do with your money, doesn't pass a common sense test. Two obvious examples, drug money, and unlicensed gun sales.

Social outrage works a bit better when you have a decent thing to stand on.

Re:It could pass (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28103071)

The current law on the books doesn't make the act illegal. The law makes it illegal for financial institutions to transfer money to/from internet gambling sites.

The mechanism they used to ban it doesn't matter, the end result is the same. What's the point of making in illegal to transfer money specifically to gambling sites if not to prohibit online gambling.

Strictly speaking, this is fully within Congress' rights to regulate interstate commerce which is explicitly granted by the Constitution.

Read your constitution. Just because something is interstate doesn't automatically give congress unlimited authority over it. When prohibition was enacted, they understood this and had to pass a constitutional amendment before they could prohibit alcohol sales. I would love to see a constitutional justification for prohibition of online gambling but not offline gambling. Where is the distinction?

Your assertion about it never being the government's business about what you do with your money, doesn't pass a common sense test. Two obvious examples, drug money, and unlicensed gun sales

Criminalizing spending money on drugs is wrong too. Buying a gun from an unlicensed seller is not a federal crime. In many states it is not illegal either. There is an argument to be made for registering guns but it's a different issue.

So...illegal things are criminal? (3, Insightful)

KevlarTheSleepinator (827583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101883)

"Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise"

AKA: Illegal (things) are a criminal (thing).

No kidding! If it becomes legal, then it's no longer a criminal enterprise now is it? He needs to give a better reason why it should remain illegal than just because it's illegal now.

Re:So...illegal things are criminal? (2, Insightful)

b laurienti (1056338) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102225)

It's currently not an illegal enterprise, as running the online casino is legal in their physical location.

Holy Shit! (3, Informative)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101957)

Harry Reid is going to review something carefully! I wondered what it would take, as countless violations of the US Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and human decency weren't sufficient. Now I know: you have to threaten a microscopic portion of Las Vegas's profits.

Is it legal to deposit and play online poker? (1)

anaphora (680342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101971)

The PPA's position says YES. 4. Is playing poker legal in the United States? Generally, playing poker in a social setting in one's home is legal in most, but not all, states. Some states permit playing social games of poker in taverns and bars, while very few states allow commercial poker games. Increasingly, however, government officials have undertaken "crackdowns" on the playing of poker in traditional settings, including at charity events. These stories are detailed in the News section of this Web site. The Internet poses separate issues. There is currently no federal law that prohibits anyone from playing poker online. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, does not change any federal gambling and does not make it illegal for people to play on the Internet (Note: some states do have laws, like Washington St. which have criminal penalties for online).

Reasons to support poker players (4, Insightful)

anaphora (680342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101991)

Poker is a game of skill
Playing around a kitchen table or in cyberspace, the same talents and skills required to win at poker hold true. Observing betting patterns and watching when players fold are just as critical when playing poker over the Internet as when playing in person.

In addition, since poker is not a "house game" like blackjack and others, the game requires players to compete against other players. This characteristic is true whether someone is playing online or offline.

Poker is a game with a predominance of skill. Like chess, poker is a "thinking man's" game which relies on mathematics, psychology and money management.

Billions of tax revenue is being lost.
According to an economic analysis, 3.3 billion in federal tax revenue and addition 1 billion in state tax revenue could be raised if the federal government were to regulate Internet poker.

Poker is a source of charity.
In 2006, millions of dollars were raisedfor local and national charities through poker tournaments. One event in D.C. featuring 15 Members of Congress raised more than $288,000 to fight cancer.

Poker is one of the great American pastimes.
The game has been enjoyed by presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, Members of Congress and average Americans for more than 150 years.

Playing Poker Online Is Simply an American Tradition Evolving into the 21st Century
Americans have played poker throughout history. Playing poker on the Internet is simply an example of an American tradition evolving into the 21st century. It is unfathomable that poker, an American pastime and game of true skill, should be banned for the millions who enjoy playing responsibly.

75 percent of Americans oppose banning online poker.

According to national polling, a vast majority of Americans oppose federal efforts to ban online poker. Online Poker can be safe and regulated.

Appropriate federal regulation can ensure that minors are kept out of sites, services are provided to problem gamblers and the proper taxes are collected. The current system does nothing to protect children, problem gamblers and it is allowing billions in tax revenue to go overseas.

Online Poker vs. Online Horse Racing Betting?
If Congress allows me to bet on horses and state lotteries online, why can't I play a skill game like poker with other consenting adults?

Prohibitions don't work.
The UIGEA effectively bans online poker in the U.S. and drives those players underground. Meanwhile, poker continues to grow in popularity nationwide.

This decision is ruled entirely by reason! (1)

quantax (12175) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102041)

'Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age,' says Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama and the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee.

And that is why online horse betting is totally OK.

Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites... (2, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102057)

...seem pretty tame compared to the monkey knife fights, men/cow marriages, and re-broadcasting of Major League Baseball with implied oral consent

Excuse me, Mr. Bachus... (3, Interesting)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102065)

...and I mean this with the utmost respect, mind you. "Illegal offshore gambling?" What the FUCK are you talking about?

I wasn't aware that gambling sites that operate outside of the United States fell under the US' legal jurisdiction. Is there any kind of law, convention, or agreement (maybe from the UN?) that supports this?

Because otherwise, I see this as an argument FOR legalizing gambling- if there are sites outside of US jurisdiction where it is available, then criminalizing it just cuts off potential tax revenue when the gamblers take their business elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in related news ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102109)

...crude oil futures are trading at $62.70/bbl.

Who needs your penny ante poker games when I can drop some real cash on the biggest numbers racket around.

Go slow and regulate heavily at first (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102179)

How about this: Allow online gambling but only from state-licensed betting parlors that met certain requirements. States, and where required by state law, localities would have to opt in.

States could, if they chose, let people declare their own home a betting parlor provided it met certain requirements, such as the ability to verify its location electronically, the ability to verify that only those legally permitted to gamble were gambling, that all gamblers were provided with information on gambling addiction, that all winnings were reported to taxing authorities, if people other than household residents were gambling that local business zoning laws were met, etc. etc. etc.

Those taking bets would have to be based in the United States, be based in a location where running a gambling operation of its type e.g. casino or sports betting was legal, be required to verify that the client location was a betting parlor, and verify that the person placing the bet was authorized by the management of the betting parlor.

This will be expensive, and most people will find it more convenient to drive to the nearest "betting cafe" than to do the paperwork and pay the fees needed to make their home into a legal online casino client.

If this kind of "enabling legislation" were in force, localities could experiment with allowing online gambling by their residents, and over time a consensus would emerge if this was a good thing or not.

Personal disclaimer: I would just assume not have online gambling, but if you are going to have it, go slow about it.

This is about poker, and hypocrisy (4, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102193)

A major proponent of this bill is the "Poker Players Alliance" (http://pokerplayersalliance.org/). They've been lobbying for several years now; they formed around the time Bill First put the UIGEA into a port security bill using a procedural move.

I think the majority of people who are passionate about seeing this bill pass are poker enthusiasts who just want to be able to play poker online as a hobby. I don't give a damn if they legalize online slot machines or keno, and I think it's generally ridiculous to utilize such things. At least in Vegas, you get free drinks while wasting your money. But poker is a game of skill in the long run.

The UIGEA was ethically bankrupt:

* It carved out exceptions, such as betting on horses
* 43 States have State Lotteries, aka, the "Tax On People Who Are Bad At Math". These are games which, like typical casino games, are inherently "unbeatable". They are pure chance, and stacked very heavily against the player.

At this point, millions of people are still playing poker online, but they don't enjoy any sort of regulatory protection, and the United States does not enjoy any tax revenue from it; although the UIGEA burdens our banks with a significant cost of compliance by trying to force them to screen out transactions intended to move money to the online poker houses.

As far as Harry Reid goes, I think online poker has been a net benefit to Vegas; huge numbers of players visit for the World Series of Poker each year, as well as a bunch of lesser events. And those numbers have dwindled since the UIGEA passed in 2006.

State? (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102323)

Isn't gambling a state matter currently? Why not let the states handle it?

Re:State? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102763)

Isn't gambling a state matter currently? Why not let the states handle it?

Because you can't be sure that a particular user isn't accessing an online gambling site from out of state through a closed proxy. Out-of-state users fall under federal jurisdiction per the commerce clause of the Constitution.

Re:State? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102969)

Considering this is a matter about commerce between the US and other nations, no it's not a state matter.

What were they before... ? (2, Insightful)

Capitalist1 (127579) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102359)

Before they were illegal, they weren't criminal enterprises. If you repeal the law that bans them, they will no longer be criminal enterprises.

So, they're illegal because they're criminal because they're illegal.

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28102699)

As one who has seen my aging mother develop a gambling addiction and then gamble away my parents entire life savings with absolutely no way to stop it, I cannot disagree with this strongly enough. Say what you will, the gambling institutions didn't grow to their current state by not being the only true winners.
I ask what possible redeeming element could there be to legalizing the ability for people to ruin their lives, just so a few can "entertain themselves?"

Harry Reid (1)

Oldyeller89 (1405985) | more than 4 years ago | (#28102831)

While he may be an obstacle, I don't think so. Not only does online gaming (especially poker) increase interest in gambling, but I have recently heard that Harrah's is making a bid to set up an online Casino. This is tax revenue in Nevada's pocket. I hope this can pass and poker players don't have to jump through some absurd hoops to play online.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...