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MA Proposes Two Year Jail Term for Online Gambling

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the little-harsh-for-some-blackjack dept.

The Internet 248

tessaiga writes "The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is trying to sneak a provision to criminalize online gambling. The bill, if passed, would make online gambling punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $25k in fines. Ironically, the provision is buried deep within a bill to allow the construction of three new casinos in Massachusetts to bring more gambling revenue into the state. 'If you were cynical about it, you'd think that they're trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos,' said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Democratic House representative Barney Frank, who earlier this year introduced federal legislation to legalize regulated online gambling, also criticized the move as 'giving opponents an argument against him.' Indeed, groups such as the Poker Player's Alliance, who were previously supportive of Patrick's plans to open the new casinos, have already announced opposition to the bill because of the online gambling clause."

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throw us a fucking bone, Deval (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336557)

if you're gonna bury something in a bill, why not make it something good, like freeing up some goddamn liquor licenses in Boston and Cambridge?

Online gambling (4, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336563)

Sigh. Why am I not surprised to see another corrupt politician?

Although I disagree with the idea that gambling is somehow immoral, it wouldn't be so bad if that was the position that was being taken. But no, it seems that gambling itself is fine, it's just that Internet gambling somehow is not. Perhaps the supposed rationale[1] is that it's not regulated the same way that in-state gambling is. But then by that token, online shopping should be banned, too.

I'd be intrigued to see the wording of the bill. After all, spread betting on the financial markets is gambling. Indeed, the entire futures market is gambling. Hell, even taking out an insurance policy is gambling. Which of those will be made an offence punishable by incarceration, and which won't? Who determines which activity falls on which side of the line, and why?

Disclaimer: I make my living through online gambling.

[1] Yes, I know the public rationale is in all likelihood utterly unrelated to the real reason, but I have to at least go along with the pretense.

Re:Online gambling (-1, Troll)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336617)

Sigh. Why am I not surprised to see another corrupt politician?
Cuz he is teh Deval! Da 3v1l!!! Itz rite in teh summary! Duh!

Re:Online gambling (1, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336645)

Disclaimer: I make my living through online gambling.
It could be worse, you could be selling insurance.

Re:Online gambling (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336689)

You know...I'm still kinda perplexed that I've seen nothing on the national news channels, about the WTO judgement against the US for billions of dollars due to its two-faced policy towards online gambling.

I don't get it. I cannot be a morality reason...since OTB for horse races and apparently some lotteries can be planed online...so, what is the big deal with banning online gambling?

Lets get rid of the nanny state mentality, and let people do what they wish. True freedom means freedom to fsck up, and deal with the consequences too....

It could get quite amusing (1)

rpjs (126615) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337293)

If (when) the US federal government accepts its WTO treaty obligations and removes the national ban on online gambling, but the US still gets slapped with WTO sanctions 'cos some states won't budge from their local bans. Good be very good news for us in the EU if we get to legally use US IP for free, which is what the sanctions may turn out to be.

Re:It could get quite amusing (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337735)

"If (when) the US federal government accepts its WTO treaty obligations and removes the national ban on online gambling, but the US still gets slapped with WTO sanctions 'cos some states won't budge from their local bans."

It will indeed be interesting. I'm not sure how the US will handle this. Unlike many other countries, when the US fed. government signs a treaty, it really does NOT become the law of the land, superseding other laws. This is especially true if parts of the treaty could be translated as violating the Constitution. Nothing, no treaty can supersede that. Here is an interesting link [wikipedia.org] that I saw before on Slashdot about all this. Read the part in Domestic vs International law.

"The United States takes a different view concerning the relationship between international and domestic law from many other nations, particularly European ones. Unlike nations that view international agreements as always superseding domestic law, the American view is that international agreements become part of the body of U.S. federal law. As a result, Congress can modify or repeal treaties by subsequent legislative action, even if this amounts to a violation of the treaty under international law. The most recent changes will be enforced by U.S. courts entirely independent of whether the international community still considers the old treaty obligations binding upon the U.S. Additionally, an international agreement that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution is void under domestic U.S. law, the same as any other federal law in conflict with the Constitution, and the Supreme Court could rule a treaty provision to be unconstitutional and void under domestic law although it has never done so. The constitutional constraints are stronger in the case of CEA and executive agreements, which cannot override the laws of state governments."

So...it is going to be an interesting test of this indeed...with respect to how the US works within true international bodies and treaties such at the WTO. Our government isn't really set up to sign a treaty and have it set in stone and binding...at least, that's how I read it.

Re:It could get quite amusing (3, Interesting)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337839)

I think this Wiki article is dubious at best, which might be one of the reasons for the lack of citations. If I had time to do the research, I would correct it with the proper case law, but a quick look at the Constitution shows that an actual treaty (not all international agreements are treaties) generally trumps domestic law. It comes in second to the Constitution itself. There are a couple of cases this term though that might provide some more definite case law on this, and with the current composition of the court, I wouldn't be surprised if treaties were marginalized.

Re:Online gambling (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336695)

It isn't that internet gambling is immoral, it is that the casinos in the state are bribing him to criminalize internet gambling. - Captain Obvious.

Re:Online gambling (4, Informative)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337075)

There are no casinos in the state. Yet. That's the proposition in this rather controversial bill: to allow casinos to be built in MA, and to lay out the plans for the first three.

Re:Online gambling (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337517)

"It isn't that internet gambling is immoral, it is that the casinos in the state are bribing him to criminalize internet gambling. - Captain Obvious."

I'm not so sure. I think the US land based casinos would JUMP at the chance to be able to put up online casinos. That would be a major cash cow for them. I'd think a large majority of US gamblers would much rather do online gambling with a US based (and regulated) casino, than a little server out on some island somewhere that could perceivably scam them much easier.

I'd think the B&M US casinos would really be in favor of online gambling being legalized...

Re:Online gambling (1)

popejeremy (878903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337611)

You'd think that, and you'd be wrong. B&M Casinos are remarkably short sighted. However, they are starting to come around.

Re:Online gambling (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337621)

I work in the online gambling industry and have heard from a number of sources that a few of the major B&M Vegas casinos have got fully functional online gaming systems up and running, but offline, with the ability to flick the switch as and when online gambling becomes legal to operate from within the US.

Re:Online gambling (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336733)

I really don't think this is a case of corruption, so much as one of protectionism. Listen, gambling web sites are only a threat because most of them operate offshore and therefore the suckers who use them are funneling their money to small Caribbean islands, not into the coffers of the States or the Federal Government. So, here's a bill that seeks to build casinos in Massachusetts while at the same time preventing gambling dollars from slipping the country. You have a State government trying to fund its programs off the backs of the poor (not unlike what happens with lotteries). It's not overt corruption, unless of course some of the new MA casino money makes its way into the pockets of the governor. This bears watching.

Re:Online gambling (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337199)

. Listen, gambling web sites are only a threat because most of them operate offshore and therefore the suckers who use them are funneling their money to small Caribbean islands
Don't you think Americans would choose Hara's or Trump over some off shore gaming operation? If the US weren't so protectionist these B&M Casinos would jump into online gaming with both feet.

The only problem I've heard of in an offshore gaming company was a recent one with Absolute Poker where an insider was colluding with a player, telling them the hole cards. Absolute denied it for quite a while until an employee rolled over on the insider who was colluding. Here's a link: http://www.gambling911.com/Absolute-Poker-103107A.html [gambling911.com]

This could just as easily have happened with an online poker server based in the US if ever it were allowed. B&M dealers have been found colluding with players all the time.

Re:Online gambling (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337703)

I really don't think this is a case of corruption, so much as one of protectionism.

If it weren't for the jail term and fine, I'd agree. Simple protectionism would be banning overseas gambling (which they try in vain to do). In my opinion, using the criminal justice system to effectively guarantee a monopoly for a private business is square in the 'corruption' category.

It's not overt corruption, unless of course some of the new MA casino money makes its way into the pockets of the governor.

I haven't done the research, but if I were into internet gambling I'd place a friendly wager with you. Namely that this casino group has made significant campaign donations to the sponsors of this bill, likely including the governor. ;) That definitely counts as corruption in my book.

Re:Online gambling (3, Insightful)

Gorm the DBA (581373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336745)

The real reason is simplicity itself...

Brick and Mortar Casino - Taxed...heavily...easy for the auditors to swoop down on and maintain control to make sure the state gets it's cut. Physical location clear, so no question as to what taxing authority "owns" it. Opportunities for additional taxable revenue from tourists, as they have to physically come to the state, and buy fuel, food, hotel rooms, souveniers, etc.

Online Casino - Theoretically taxable, but probably based overseas, so good luck collecting. Open question regarding what jurisdiction gets to tax it. No person actually travels, so no auxilliary income.

Re:Online gambling (2, Interesting)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336987)

These could actually be valid reasons, but as the OP asks why isn't this an issue also with online shoping and other online services? Same issues exist there as well.

Re:Online gambling (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337595)

These could actually be valid reasons, but as the OP asks why isn't this an issue also with online shoping and other online services? Same issues exist there as well.

Perhaps because the barrier to entry for online gaming is lower than having an actual product to sell and the means to efficiently distribute it?

Hush already (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336763)

But then by that token, online shopping should be banned, too.
Hush already. Don't go giving them ideas, FFS.

Re:Online gambling (2, Insightful)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336779)

The bottom line, and its simple, is its about the TAX REVENUE.

Forget about the profits from the casinos the state makes/etc (although that too is VERY signifigant). I'm Canadian (dont hold that against me) and I play a shitpile of online poker. Make a damn fine amount of cash on it too.

I don't pay a single cent of income tax on my winnings. Part because the online gambling sites have no mechanism for reporting gambling income to the governments. Although I'd still pay my fair share if Canada taxed gaming "income" - thankfully we do not.

All this asshole wants is for Mass. to reap its taxation windfall from all of you who win gambling online. If its thru the state casinos - he has a direct line. If its from some cayman islands offshore gambling company, they know you aren't going to report the income, nor pay taxes on it. Add in that the offshore site reaps the profits (your gambling losses) as well, its no-win for Mass. to open casinos & do nothing to stop you from playing on an offshore site.

Dosn't mean this guy isn't a douche. He most decidedly is. Of course the government wants a monopoly on gaming, its all about the dollars. But thankfully some are standing up to this asshat-ery - you should be able to choose where you spend your gaming dollars.

Re:Online gambling (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337021)

The bottom line, and its simple, is its about the TAX REVENUE.

      which will be spent by enforcing this law, net gain - zero. In fact it will be more expensive to find out who these "online" gamblers are, take them to court, and lock them up, feed them and house them for a few years, then help them try to live a life after no one wants to give them a job because they now have a "criminal record". Yep, government makes a LOT of sense.

Re:Online gambling (1)

noldrin (635339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336983)

I think it's more like: gambling is bad, addictive and destroys society, unless the government is making money off of it, then it good and everyone should do it. With the amount Mass advertises the lottery to entice new people to play, I feel the state has lost all moral authority to decide what is bad or good for us (if they ever should have had that in the first place) Do you know that in Mass that if you sell lottery tickets, you are barred from ever suggesting to someone that they have spent too much money or perhaps should seek help?

Re:Online gambling (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337011)

You disagree with him so that makes him corrupt? You have no proof he is corrupt but I have a strong case that you are guilty of libel.

Re:Online gambling (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337149)

but I have a strong case that you are guilty of libel.
Uh, not really.

Re:Online gambling (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337367)

Libel [nolo.com] , an untruthful statement about a person, published in writing or through broadcast media, that injures the person's reputation or standing in the community.

Re:Online gambling (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337729)

Ok, now prove that the rep's reputation or standing was actually hurt from that statement. Oh, and prove that what the OP said ISN'T true.

Is protectionism really corrupt? (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337071)

Let's look at some history. Back in the day, before Woodrow Wilson came along, the US Senate was completely dominated by industrial interests. They basically bottled up any imports into the United States and from there made mountains of money building up domestic industries. Wilson cracked things open a bit, and broke that old club, but by that time there was so much money floating around that the USA was able to not only easily tip the scales in World War I, dominate industry in World War II, but also finance a public education system including the best universities in the world, establish a string of hospitals and research centers, and, along the way, create a middle class.

Bottom line, there have been times in history where a good bit of local cronyism, if coupled with solid workers rights and a bit protectionism, made a good recipe for economic growth. The deal was simple - really, the big industry guys could get rich and get the government to guard their markets, and in turn they would pay real wages and benefits to its workers. Over time, from Wilson, to Roosevelt, Democrats refined this idea into the New Deal, and as a result, America arguably got rich as all bloody hell.

Somewhere along the way, Dems got a bit too infatuated with socialism, and meanwhile, Republicans switched from being avante protectionist industrialists that made goods and jobs, to global traders and stock people that don't make anything, and that partially explains the mess we're in.

One wonders if the old formula could still work... It has before, and rather well.

Re:Is protectionism really corrupt? (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337509)

We'll probably get a chance to figure out if it still works thanks to China, but for better or worse remains to be seen.

Re:Is protectionism really corrupt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337549)

Somewhere along the way, Dems got a bit too infatuated with socialism, and meanwhile, Republicans switched from being avante protectionist industrialists that made goods and jobs, to global traders and stock people that don't make anything, and that partially explains the mess we're in.

If only the real world was as easy to understand as your simple-minded analysis.

Re:Is protectionism really corrupt? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337835)

Maybe someone could help me out here. Let's say I'm a lefty populist trying to shoehorn everything into a "teh evil corporationzorz" story. Now, am I supposed to see protectionism as a noble attempt to protect my job, and the middle class, from competition, or as a way to prop up the superprofits of domestic industry?

Because I've seen the BOTH stories, sometimes within the same book!

The Position Is... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337081)

"Gambling is immoral... if they haven't donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to my campaign." Hell if prostitutes had a lobby that would be legal too.

Good (2, Interesting)

Cutie Pi (588366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336573)

The more that lawmakers continue to be in bed with corporate interests, the faster a revolution will come. Why don't you give online gamblers the death penalty while you're at it?

"If you were cynical" (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336577)

Please read: if you are not brainless.

Monopoly for the casinos (4, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336585)

If you were cynical about it, you'd think that they're trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos,
Duh! That's exactly what they're doing. It's exactly what they did in Detroit, when I lived there. When they passed the laws to allow the casinos, they made sure that other forms of gambling had stricter laws and penalties attached to them.

It's all about the tax revenue. It's always been all about the tax revenue.

Constituants (3, Interesting)

repetty (260322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336599)


I'm not from Massachusetts but has anyone investigated Governor Deval Patrick's ties to the casino industry? From a distance, this kinda reeks.

Follow the money; money is the truth drug.

--Richard

Re:Constituants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336839)

No offense, but people here are wicked smaht. Errr, quite intelligent. Yes, it's occurred to us to look into it from the day the casino plan surfaced, without you needing to come up with that brainstorm.

Follow the money; money is the truth drug.

Ummm, that makes even less sense than not signing Mike Lowell.

Re:Constituants (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337203)

"No offense, but people here are wicked smaht. Errr, quite intelligent. "

2 words: Big Dig.

I also note that you didn't reveal the results of "look[ing] into it from the day the casino plan surfaced". Perhaps because the level of corruption uncovered is perfectly acceptable to the residents of Massachusetts?

I mean, after all, he is Kennedy's boy, so there CAN'T be anything untoward going on, can there?

Re:Constituants (3, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337285)

His push is coming from the usual conflict of people who pee themselves if you start talking about raising taxes but don't want cuts in government benefits or services. So the pressure is on to create pseudotaxes via fees, fines, or gambling gimmicks. Since Connecticut has the Monhegan Sun resort drawing bored old folks from MA in droves to it there has been a push to keep their money at home. The Mashpee natives then started pushing to get permission, as a recognized Native-American nation, to build a casino on their land in MA. Once it started to look like it might happen the genie was out of the bottle and talk started of opening other casinos around MA.

Now MA, like most states, has had a lottery for a while. It generates money that gets passed on to towns, mainly for schools. The lottery is run by a state agency so all of the money stays in it. If they have casinos though, most of the money will go into private hands. There is only so much cash people have to piss away on gambling so this money is going to come from, you guessed it, what they would've spent on the lottery. So the state is taking from one pocket and putting it in another except this one has a hole in it.

The response to this is the proponents say "The money will come from what would've gone to CT casinos so it won't hurt the lottery very much and we'll have the CT money too." Well, no one should expect Monhegan Sun to sit on its butt and let us take its business. It will fight and CT may agree to take less for the state. Other states like NH and ME may jump in. Competition would cut state shares and in the end more would go down the private profit drain and the state (and citizens) would lose.

All this because people can't face reality and deal with taxes.

Re:Constituants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337731)

I guess with the tax burden in Taxachusetts already being so high, there's really not much further they can raise them...

Of course, maybe they can't afford them with the whole "forced health insurance" plan. You know nothing helps with prices than legally forcing everyone to buy something. And as I recall, Massachusetts already has some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. I guess you can't tax people more than you're forcing them to spend!

I suppose New Hampshire's Masshole immigration problem is only going to increase. Maybe they can hire people from Texas to build a wall?

Re:Constituants (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337827)

All this because people can't face reality and deal with taxes.

Actually its all because people can't deal with reality and themselves pay to educate their kids, hire police to sit around and hand out fines for things which aren't dangerous, demand that kids not be able to play violent video games, or even be bothered to ensure they can support themselves and their family without outside assistance.

Proportional punishment (5, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336611)

2 years and $25k! FFS! Is it me or is that totally over the top. I'm glad I live in the UK where I can enjoy online poker without risking the sort of punishment meeted out for serious crime.

Re:Proportional punishment (1)

iceZebra (1148629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337473)

And pop down our local pub for a quick fruit-machine session...

Re:Proportional punishment (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337619)

I wouldn't be too sure about this. I live in the UK too and given the push for mega-casinos and that as smoking becomes less socially acceptable and the revenue it generates in tax declines, the government may well look to other sources of revenue.

It's not like there isn't a few stealth taxes here already.

Scumbag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336641)

It makes me sick that I helped this man get elected. And not in just a typical "I held signs" way.

And could this have an even broader reach? (4, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336653)

Pretending for a moment that I have no other problems with something like this being passed into law (and that's FAR from the case!), I'm wondering what other unintended ramifications this could have?

For example, I'm a member of a local group on www.meetup.com, a social networking type web site. This group occasionally holds poker playing get-togethers at one member's apartment on the weekends. (Nothing "high stakes", but some money does change hands.) Could this get caught up in "online gambling", simply because it was organized over the Internet?

Re:And could this have an even broader reach? (5, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336931)

For example, I'm a member of a local group on www.meetup.com, a social networking type web site. This group occasionally holds poker playing get-togethers at one member's apartment on the weekends. (Nothing "high stakes", but some money does change hands.) Could this get caught up in "online gambling", simply because it was organized over the Internet?
I live in WA, and we banned online gambling a couple of years ago. Thats in addition to a blanket ban on any gambling outside of licensed casinos/cardhouses. In order to be licensed in the state you pretty much have to have tribal affiliations. And that includes just owning a slot machine, whether or not any money changes hands as a result of its use.

I don't know Massachusetts, but around here the internet ban was largely the logical completion of our current ban on non tribal gambling. Chances are the kind of activity that you mentioned is already illegal.

In case you're wondering, online gambling is a class C felony around here, which puts it in the same basic category as child abuse and torturing animals. I don't think that there is a good reason why it needs to be a felony. Misdemeanor perhaps, but making it a felony for the people playing is more than a little over kill.

Re:And could this have an even broader reach? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337623)

"I don't think that there is a good reason why it needs to be a felony."

The felony game...

Simple game.

At least if a felony brings a loss of voting rights where you are...

Make it a felony, convict your opposition, now they can't vote you out...

(Not saying it is done... but it sure must tempt some...)

all the best,

drew

  http://dangernovel.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
  Danger - A Safe Bahamian Novel

Re:And could this have an even broader reach? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337637)

Misdemeanor perhaps, but making it a felony for the people playing is more than a little over kill.

Yes, but then your political opponents could accuse you of being "soft on crime" and you don't want to be "soft on crime" do you? So you vote to lock them up and throw away the key because the constituents want blood and the online gamblers are not enough a voting block to make a difference.

Re:And could this have an even broader reach? (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336955)

IANAL, but generally if no one is taking any money from the gambling operation you're legal. Wagers between private parties are okay, but if the host is taking a rake from the pot there could be trouble.

And I'd be less concerned about the state coming after you for use of the internet and more concerned with the Feds and using the telephone.

Re:And could this have an even broader reach? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337865)

Actually what you're doing (even without using the internet) may already be considered illegal gambling in your state. That's the case in many states.

No, no. It's to protect families! (4, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336661)

The bill, if passed, would make online gambling punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $25k in fines.

Because without this measure, gambling fathers will put their families in incredible debt.

Re:No, no. It's to protect families! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336965)

Because without this measure, gambling fathers will put their families in incredible debt.

      Yeah, only the government should be allowed to do that...

Apathy (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336675)

The Poker Players Alliance, a group that says it represents the interests of online gamblers, began a letter-writing campaign last week and has generated 1,700 letters to the governor and various state legislators. The Washington-based organization has 16,000 members in Massachusetts, which is a fraction of what the alliance estimates are the 250,000 online poker players in the state.
That's a pretty good upper bound for estimating civic-mindedness. The state is threatening to send their asses to jail for two years and their membership can barely scrape up a 10% letter writing rate!

Re:Apathy (3, Informative)

Gorm the DBA (581373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336909)

Umm...actually...for one week after a single "Get out the mail" e-mail...10% is *pretty damned good* as a response rate.

Most "political activism" groups are happy with 5%-10% participation after an intense effort to "get out the mail" over several attempts and several weeks.

The NRA, famous for "flooding" Washington with letters, averages around 3% response to it's "Legislative alerts". Admittedly, a larger scale, since they have way more members, and a National issue rather than One Single State, but still...10% does not suck.

Re:Apathy (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337095)

Umm...actually...for one week after a single "Get out the mail" e-mail...10% is *pretty damned good* as a response rate.

That's precisely my point. This isn't some policy issue, it's a law that would send all of them to jail! We can conclude that 10% is about as good as you can possibly get -- thus "upper bound".

Re:Apathy (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337711)

Perhaps most people assume that they won't be able to enforce it very effectively. How exactly would they know if I play a $1 hold 'em tournament on Poker Stars?

Unless they get their internet from AT&T... hmm it's all coming together now.

Re:Apathy (1)

RRR111 (1151867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337819)

Well, it wouldn't "send all of them to jail!" It would make them have to quit one of their favorite hobbies, if the bill passes. That's not nearly as critical.

prohibition didnt work for my grandparents (4, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336731)

And so-called "victimless crimes" like gambling, marijuana, non-martial sex, etc. seem to be a losing enforcement battle too. At some point the governement may focus on real problems like terrorism, crumbling infrastructure, economic inequality and so on.

Re:prohibition didnt work for my grandparents (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337073)

I think you should eliminate terrorism from your list of problems, given how the so-called War on Terrorism is being run.

In fact, I think the word "terrorism" should fall out of usage, and that such extremists should be revealed for what they are: criminals.

Pursuant to that, I also think that a multinational commission should be set up to investigate and punish those criminals. It shouldn't be up to one country to do it. I'm thinking the United Nations could help ... it could be a United Nations Criminal Law Enforcement Commission.

Or, to abbreviate it, The UNCLE Commission.

Re:prohibition didnt work for my grandparents (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337079)

Perhaps like President Bush God told him to put it in ?

If the Mafia made its first billion from Booze this sounds another great money making opportunity for them assuming that its there new casinos somewhere down the money chain.

Technically the mass police could become mafia subcontractors. Thats got to be good for everybody

Re:prohibition didnt work for my grandparents (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337459)

And so-called "victimless crimes" like gambling, marijuana, non-martial sex
As opposed to martial sex, which usually has victims. Or at least victors/losers on the battlefield of love.

Re:prohibition didnt work for my grandparents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337531)

If they don't persecute criminals who commit moral crimes, how will they continue to get the conservative Christian vote? Further, they aren't already focused on terrorism? That's news to me, seeing as they try every 2-3 months to remind us to be terrified, granting the terrorists a win that cost only a handful men and a few thousand dollars 6 years ago.

Finally, why the hell would they care about EVER fixing economic inequalities? Neither politicians or their corporate handlers have anything to gain by closing that gap.

protectionism (1)

VanderJagt (833197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336749)

Hooray for good old Government Protection. Coal, Mail, Copyrights, Drugs, Gambling...what will they think of next? (Can we make "Vote For Ron Paul" a tag?)

Isn't that a LEGISLATIVE branch power? (2, Interesting)

shrubya (570356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336773)

What kind of legislature accepts proposed legislation directly from the executive?

Re:Isn't that a LEGISLATIVE branch power? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337139)

True.

If this were the Federal Government, the "Executive" would just write an Executive Order. Much more tidy than all this messy Legislation stuff!

online not regulated (3, Interesting)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336791)

since online gambling isn't regulated, all "bets" are off. a consumer has no recourse if she is cheated, and you can't possibly trust online gambling sites where there's no regulation oversight since there's absolutely nothing stopping them from cheating. i'm all for online gambling, but it has to be regulated to protect the consumers. what this legislation should be pursuing is online regulation, not online banning.

Re:online not regulated (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337007)

While I think the political motivations behind these laws are often different from what you've mentioned, I do think you've hit the big legitimate argument right on the head. When you shove money into a slot machine in Las Vegas, you can at least rest easy that the casino is playing the game fairly. Nevada has a pretty big regulatory structure surrounding casino gambling that does a good job of ensuring that the house only gets its legitimate take.

Of course, then the question becomes, how do you regulate online gambling based in places like Antigua or Costa Rica? I think that's where the US has a legitimate beef concerning internationally-based online gambling, because there's no way to know whether US citizens are getting ripped off or not.

Re:online not regulated (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337749)

Of course, then the question becomes, how do you regulate online gambling based in places like Antigua or Costa Rica? I think that's where the US has a legitimate beef concerning internationally-based online gambling, because there's no way to know whether US citizens are getting ripped off or not.

The government doesn't give a crap about that. If they allowed domestic online gaming, we'd find out how much the players value that oversight.

Re:online not regulated (1)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337667)

Any you protect them by putting them in prison ? Players protect themselves by playing at a place they trust. The online poker rooms would lose hundreds of millions of $ if they found to be cheating, or have unsafe games. The sites themselves do a very good job of rooting out cheating. Get a clue, and don't defend the corrupt. (Strange that off shore gambling is less corrupt than our own politicians .)

There is NO better way (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336793)

to ensure that gambling in Mass. will be full of corruption than to have politicians involved in it. I'm sure the penalties are just, as is the promise of a ride to the beach with a Kennedy.

I'm all for smaller government sooner rather than later. Apparently, at least in Mass., it's okay to propose legislation that makes you look so corrupt that half the world is reading about you. The throngs of people (Honorable J Carter even) that want to decriminalize things that have been prohibited for a while is getting bigger and bigger, approaching critical mass, yet the US believes it can ban all online gambling? WTF? Prohibition and censorship do NOT work. I wish the US had a government that understood that. Oh, let me add abstinence to that list also. If only god had been so forward thinking as to add an 11th commandment: Thou shalt not legislate morality. Even if Moses had had an epiphany on the way down the mountain... two really good opportunities missed!! Just one little commandment, 5 words, even in stone tablet writing costs, that is cheap.

How much death and mayhem could have been avoided in the world?

Re:There is NO better way (4, Funny)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336921)

If only god had been so forward thinking as to add an 11th commandment: Thou shalt not legislate morality.

*hits his Jeopardy buzzer* What is Irony?

Re:There is NO better way (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337087)

There is a big difference between believing that God will punish somebody for something, and taking it into your own hands.

Re:There is NO better way (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337589)

Because God hardly ever punishes the wrongdoers... oh wait, that's because there is no God at all.

your .sig (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337045)

what about the neighbor and weigh part? :-)

Re:There is NO better way (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337051)

...to ensure that gambling in Mass. will be full of corruption than to have politicians involved in it.

...to ensure that gambling anywhere will be full of corruption than to have politicians involved in it.

There, fixed it for you.

Re:There is NO better way (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337771)

Almost all legislation is morality. (Taxes are about the only thing that aren't about morality.)

"Murder = bad" is moral declaration. Same with "stealing = bad." Almost all of our laws come from variants of these (hurting people = bad leads to laws on assault. Stealing = bad leads to straight theft laws, fraud laws, etc).

The problem with this legislation isn't that it's legislating morality. It's that it's legislating from a moral code that you disagree with.

Well, the feds are already in deep over this... (5, Interesting)

TheRavenofNight (981092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336817)

I recall reading an article recently where the US is in danger of being fined billions by other nations due to the banning of online gambling. If MA does, in fact, pass this, there may be many world-wide ramifications for the state and additional ones for the country. Doesn't seem a very wise idea when we've already pissed most nations off. And please- 2 years for online gambling? I will never understand it. You can gamble at casinos, play the lotto, or play bingo for your local NPO, but have a poker game at home or play online and you're screwed. State and federal governments need to stop overreaching their bounds on these issues.

Not legal, death to WoW and enforcement (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336917)

Legality: Dubious at best. Intrastate online gaming they can control but not interstate or international (see Wickard v. Filburn). Also could the law be read to include the winning of anything fungible? If so WoW will soon be illegal.

Enforcement: If it becomes a criminal act does this mean the cops will be kicking in doors to arrest? How about using no-knock warrants? The magic eight ball says: "All signs point to yes". Welcome to the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

Gov. Patrick is on the way to becoming an every worse Governor than Romney (who set the bar pretty low).

Re:Not legal, death to WoW and enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337363)

You mean worse than Governor Dukakis, of course.

things that make you go hmmmm.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336929)

notice that no one pointed out that devil patrick is a democrat. i thought it was only fat stooge evil republicans that wanted this kind of control over their subjects. i always thought the democrats carried the one true torch of freedom and never did wrong. no corruption in the dnc, no way.

hell, this man may even drive an suv!

Re:things that make you go hmmmm.... (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337257)

Standard operating procedure. You can tell when it's a democrat doing something stupid, because they leave off the party affiliation. If it's a republican, you can be sure that the party affiliation will be firmly attached. It's not like the press is biased in any way, is it? Makes you wonder what other news they are playing with.

What's so bad about Gambling? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336959)

I'm not interested in it myself but why is it so frowned upon in the US? 2 years seems extraordinarily OTT for something like that when you could be out in 18months for assault, theft etc.

Same shit, different name (3, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336993)

This is exactly how the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was introduced and signed. It was buried deep within the Safe Port Act, located at the very end of hundreds of pages of jibberish about how to make America safer.

If they wish to make a stance on online gambling, they first have to decide what is gambling and what's not. Is chess gambling? Is poker gambling? Online snooker? Backgammon? Once they've established this, then we should have a discussion on whether it should be allowed or not.

Personally, I think it's kind of hypocritical to allow land-based casinos, alcohol and cigarettes and not online gambling. Most of the opposition tells us that it's dangerous to allow people to play online because some people tend to play irresponsibly. I'd draw the same line with alcohol - it's fair only to the idiots who cannot control it but unfair to the other part, which is the larger chunk. And if so, why allow land-based casinos at all? Anyone who claims that these will help you from becoming an addict should know that fairly tales like that remain at a theoretical level.

Re:Same shit, different name (1)

basic0 (182925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337857)

You're assuming that politicians understand the situation or even want to understand it. No, it's more of the same B.S. from the old farts in charge who are completely out of touch with just about everyone else. They find one topic that for some reason offends their morals, and decide it's high time they impose their twisted ethics on the people they're supposed to represent. Aren't they there to speak for the majority, not tell the majority what is and isn't right? Does the majority in MA support excessive punishment for what many would say is not even a crime? Did anybody even ask or take a vote?

For years there has been a lot of support here in Canada for the legalization of marijuana, but it remains illegal. Why? Alcohol and tobacco are somehow legal. Your doctor can prescribe mind-altering drugs that destroy your liver and that's legal. If you took a vote, I'm sure most Canadians would choose marijuana to be legal over tobacco. So why isn't it? (NOTE: I'm not a user of marijuana or alcohol, I just think the current US/Canada policy on marijuana is beyond stupid).

A group of out of touch politicians dictating their will to the people doesn't sound like a "democracy" to me. It seems yet again like the people in charge are living in some alternate reality and most people are too apathetic to do anything about it.

NYSE related anecdote (3, Insightful)

mattr (78516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337057)

I would like to add a data point. At one time I was asked to get involved in a venture by a Scandinavian company that was said to include a past head of the NYSE on its board. The venture was meant to be a game, not strictly gambling, though it seemed you could in fact win money. It was walking a thin line in a grey area.

People got cold feet and it evaporated as U.S. legislators gave hints that it would become illegal, but it seems to me that there remains a very grey area inhabited by the stock exchange, online gambling, virtual worlds like second life and massive multiplayer games with their own currencies and conversion rates. Games of chance and skill abound in already addictive and immersive worlds.

At the time even experienced people thought the line was drawn in one place but now it is perhaps in another. I would like to note that the venture I mention was not a casino. It was supposed to teach you about the stock market.

I think the definition of gambling these days has little to do with people's welfare. The definition is made by legislators and government executives, and involves a cynical calculation and the creation of a protected and coveted revenue source for a municipality.

Because they are building their own casinos (1)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337127)

This is only in the bill because the main part of the bill is for allowing MA to build 2 new casinos. This is just a way of filtering out competition. If you can have the government force a monopoly position, why not?

did they name the bill "Gambling Enablement Bill of 2007"?

But Grandma likes Bingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337159)

She's 78 and enjoying her first computer ever, an iBook... How long until her interest in Bingo and other games makes her a felon?

But I suppose online gambling lacks the thrill of a potential strip search and 2.5 hours of detention over an $80 win....

http://wcbstv.com/local/yonkers.raceway.strip.2.565987.html [wcbstv.com]

Strange thinking (2, Interesting)

adsl (595429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337181)

So the Govenor of Massachusetts is NOT against gambling. Rather he wants to encourage gamblers by making it very accesible, in the State of Massachusetts, by building many new casinos in State, from which the State can draw revenues. But he wants to take away the freedom for gamblers to choose to spend their monies out of State, by extraodinarilly harsh jail and fine punishments if one chooses to gamble elsewhere. Isn't this border line extortion? Has the State of the Commonwealth decided the "mob" methodolgy works for his Government? Also he has seemingly NO intention of helping gambling addicts, rather redirecting them to lose in his State. I am surprised that the AG of Massachusetts doesn't see something amiss in this.

Why do people tolerate this? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337231)

There are unsolved violent crimes against people and property. Why are law enforcement resources being used to stop something that is a vice that most people who are into it can walk away from without any harm whatsoever? Gambling is only a problem for a minority of gamblers.

People do hurt themselves over gambling. I knew a guy who killed himself over it. The real reason he did that, though, was that he had the sort of personality that couldn't tolerate failure. It wasn't even like he was "addicted." He was addicted not to gambling, but to the idea that **HE** was a winner in the game of life.

Gambling is not like drugs or alcohol. Don't give me that excuse that they're pooooowr widdle addicts who can't control themselves.

Re:Why do people tolerate this? (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337291)

Just to play devil advocate here, unregulated gambling can and does cause violent crime. Organized crime largely got a foothold due to this prohibition.

So what is better? State regulated gambling or an open kind of gambling where no one is accountable for anything? That's a hard question.

Don't be naive... (1)

awfar (211405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337305)

There is Business, then there is Government.

They are two sides of the exact same coin.

A government will not allow anyone to get in the way of its easy, controlled, profitable, legislated revenue streams(casinos, lottery, taxes, etc.), no more than a competitive business would.

Finding the "criminals" (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337325)

If this waste of legislation does become law, I wonder how accurate the enforcement will be. I'd imagine that the cops would be relying on things like IP addresses and unconfirmable identities to track down these serious threats to the integrity of Massacheusetts. Maybe they'll hire the same detectives that the RIAA members used to try to nail that other big scourge of the internet--music pirates. And, of course, it wouldn't matter that Hanz Schroeder is 87 years old and has no computer and is blind; his name and credit card and other personal information were attached to some poker website account, so he must have been testing his mad casino skills online.

Sheesh, everything about this proposition is so fundamentally flawed, I hope they'll never get a conviction out of it. Any reasonable judge will see the RIAA lawsuits that have been smacked down because of the inability to reliably track people online by IP and other identifying information and think, "the plaintiffs could not even produce a probability of guilt in a civil case using these methods," and immediately dismiss a criminal case prosecuted under this farce. Sadly, reasonable judges are in short supply. But, then again, so are reasonable lawmakers. I look forward to seeing similar legislation here in Illinois, as my state's economy needs to be more robust to be considered "in the shitter."

Freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337391)

...in the Land of The Free.

Speak Out (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337451)

I don't know how I actually feel on the issue of gambling in general, though my gut goes against it. However the fact that new casinos are being allowed alongside harsh penalties being proposed for online gambling seems to kill any reasonable argument for either side. A $25,000 fine for online gambling is just ridiculous. This is obviously not a protectionist measure. It's purely economic and not necessarily in the best interest of the people. The harm of the penalty is inappropriately greater than the harm of the "crime" to both society and the individual. All in all it pulls a heap of credibility from the Governor.

That being said, Deval Patrick claims to work towards the inclusion of ordinary citizens into State affairs. This seems like the expected political dribble, but from what I've seen as a resident of Massachusetts, I would say he is making an honest attempt at this. It may be that he is aiming towards something impossible. Still, the closer we come, the better we are.

Please feel free to voice concerns over this issue at: http://devalpatrick.com/ [devalpatrick.com] . I am not sure how "heard" your voice will be, but we should at least support this approach to governing.

Check his tells (3, Funny)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337599)

He's bluffing. Go all in!

But..But... (1)

BECoole (558920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337641)

Democrats aren't supposed to do this sort of thing!

Counter effect (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337669)

When this happens those who really want to gamble

1. open an offshore account
2. open an offshore mailbox
3. get offshore papers (for CC auth a drivers' license is just fine)

Effect: US citizens are running around with foreign bank accounts that cannot be taxed, nor controlled. They are sometimes unsafe and your money just vanishes from there.

Then the casinos/Sportsbooks restrict US IPs, because they can be also be held liable helping US people to break the law.

Then people who really want to gamble are in trouble

1. but then some clever folks start up a service to randomly assign offshore ip addresses to the good old US folks. And if you think the sportsbooks and casinos are pissed about it: think again. They do not/can not know that you are gambling from the US, since you have an off-shore credit card, you are gaming from an offshore IP, and you will get your payment via an off-shore payment provider to a most likely off-shore bank account.

2. some even go further: there is an operation in Asia, where people place bets for you, and you can track it on-line. Real time. So you hire someone
to place a bet on your behalf. You are not gambling. :O

What does the US win on that: nothing. Some players are spending/winning a fortune. I work for several gaming companies (strictly technical infrastructural/programming work, no promos, spamming, anything illegal) and I happen to see bet amounts. My eyes pop out sometimes on the numbers people bet on an event.

When I moved to my off-shore place (where I live) more that seven years ago, I heard someone saying, that gambling was over, because a processor just pulled the plug on online casinos. Since then it is just stronger and better.

Here is a tip for the US: allow people to gamble, and instead of going after legit operations (yes in some countries you pay taxes per bookie, in some per terminal, then in some after your income - so yes, you are paying taxes), go after the crooks who operate casinos that never pay, and books that pay until people trust them, then claim "payment problems" until money racks up, then register 50 new domains, and continue the operation under an other name. These places are a real problem for the people and the industry, not the places where you bet, lose or win, and then get paid.

Anyone else find it strange......... (2, Insightful)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337777)

Anyone else find it strange that offshore gambling sites are less corrupt than our own politicians ? I know I trust them more. The offshore gambling sites need my trust to make millions. The politicians I KNOW are taking corporate money to screw me over. Not just screw me out of cash anymore either, they are taking money to send me to prison now, to make more cash for themselves. Someone should go to prison for bribery.

It's way more complicated. (2, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337783)

First, you must understand that there's no casinos currently in MA, but there are two on Native American tribal land which are quite close in CT.

Then, you must understand that Massachusetts has lotto, scratch offs, "mega" scratch offs which cost $20, participates in multi-state mega jackpot lotteries, and has keno.

Then, you must understand that a Native American tribe is currently trying [with the help of a major casino corporation] to build a casino on their tribal lands in MA.

Then, you must understand that MA's left and right oriented folks are generally unified against the casinos, fighting against a likely larger but certainly more apathetic middle group of moderates.

Then, you must understand that due to Prop 2.5 which restricts property tax revenue from growing more than 2.5% each year on existing property -- which is lower than general inflation and gov't cost inflation due to health care costs and energy costs growing upwards of 10% per year -- is putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on local government. Property taxes are the primary way that local governments obtain revenue, necessary to pay their share of infrastructure, education, safety, and overhead costs.

Then, you must understand that the supermajority Democratic state legislators are petrified of raising any taxes any where at any time.

Then, you must understand that Governor Deval Patrick proposed some local options taxes, where a town or city could add an additional levy on restaurants and keep some of that money and share the rest with the state. This is opposed by the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader, making it effectively dead on Beacon Hill. There were a few other local options of which I've forgotten.

Then, you must understand that the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader are very powerful in MA government, and that legislators who buck them tend to find all of their bills dead in committee, don't get any influential committee assignments, and get assigned to the leaky, small, smelly basement offices.

.
.
.

So, you've got a financial crunch at the local level. The Lege won't pass the Gov's revenue initiative. As far as casinos go, it's not clear what the Governor wants to see happen.

My guess? He wants the casino bill to fail. He's effectively added poison pills to the bill, exploiting NIMBYism and perhaps now this ban on Internet gambling so that the bill loses supporters. If the casino push crashes and burns, the Lege may have to revisit his proposal for local options. In short, this is way more complex than the standard /. cynical responses to politicians such as suggestions of corruption or corporate connection or nanny state or blah blah Ron Paul blah blah or somesuch.

Disclaimer:
I live in MA
I am a very local elected [unpaid] official
I was an early supporter of Deval Patrick's campaign for governor
I was a Democratic Party precinct captain
I am opposed to any and all legalized gambling in MA, including the state-run lottery monopolies
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