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View Poll Results: Should Online Gambling be Illegal?

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  • Yes

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  • No

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  1. #1
    Andrewtx's Avatar
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    Should Online Gambling be Illegal?

    Online gambling booms as laws try to catch up


    By Todd Milbourn -- Bee Staff Writer
    Published 12:01 am PDT Sunday, July 9, 2006

    http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/s...15085686c.html


    Sonny Mohammadzadeh approaches online poker with scholarly seriousness.
    The UC Davis graduate student and mathematician doesn't play when he's tired or upset. He seeks out sites with weaker players. And he keeps meticulous records so he can improve his game and track his winnings.

    Mohammadzadeh executes his system from a laptop computer in a cluttered off-campus house adorned with Pink Floyd posters. The 23-year-old has turned an online time-waster into, basically, a part-time job that's helping him through college.

    He figures it pays about $20 an hour.

    "Sometimes you're running good, sometimes you're running bad," said Mohammadzadeh on a recent afternoon, as he navigated through one site, wagering against opponents with screen names like "The Broozo" and "fish999."

    "But if you make the correct decisions with the cards you're dealt, things will fall into place," he said, before heading off to class.

    Mohammadzadeh might be betting online alone in his room, but he has plenty of company.

    An estimated 23 million gamblers around the world are logging on to online betting sites, wagering real money on everything from casino games to the World Cup or how long Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will stay married.

    The industry, which topped $12 billion in revenue last year, is growing so fast that the law is struggling to keep up.

    More than a decade after the first online casino opened, legislators around the world are still trying to figure out how to regulate an industry that pays little respect to international borders.

    But election-year politics in the United States have placed online gambling at the top of the political deck.

    Stopping online gambling is one of the 10 items listed, alongside tax cuts and a flag burning amendment, on the "American Values Agenda" Republicans rolled out earlier this year.

    "Internet gambling is the most dangerous form of gambling ever created," said David Robertson, president of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, one of several powerful lobbying groups backing the conservative agenda. "It's like putting a virtual casino in everyone's home."

    It might be too late to corral Internet gambling.

    There are now more than 2,000 online gambling sites worldwide, many of them based in tiny countries known for a laissez faire attitude toward gambling, such as Antigua and Gibraltar. Next year, the United Kingdom is scheduled to become the first major industrialized country to allow gambling Web sites.

    More than a third of Internet gamblers are Americans, according to research cited by the American Gaming Association.

    "The fact is people are gambling online, and they're going to continue to do it," said Holly Thomsen, a spokeswoman for the association. "What the U.S. needs to do is find a way to deal with it."

    In the United States, the debate begins with the simple question: Is online gambling legal?

    The U.S. Justice Department says it's not.

    Under the Clinton and current Bush administrations, the agency has argued that Internet gaming is illegal under a 1961 law which prohibits gambling over the "wires," although it has been reluctant to test its theory in court.

    That's because judges, perhaps, have issued differing opinions on Internet gambling.

    The most significant finding so far came in 2002 from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which ruled that it's only against the law to bet on sports over the Internet. Casino games are fine, the court said.

    The matter is further complicated by the World Trade Organization, which insists that U.S. gambling policies adhere to international trade agreements.

    "Basically, it's a mess," said Martin D. Owens, a Sacramento attorney, who is an authority on online gambling law.

    Owens offered an example to illustrate his point: "Say we got an online poker room and one guy is from Australia, one is from New York, one is from California and the server is in Antigua. Now, who has jurisdiction? I haven't gotten a straight answer to that in five years," said Owens.

    The complexity has forced anti-gambling interests in Washington to alter their tactics.

    They once focused on passing an outright ban.

    Instead, they're now going after the financing. A bill introduced this year by Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, would outlaw the use of U.S.-based bank checks or credit cards to pay off gambling debts, potentially a big blow to the industry since online gambling sites rely almost exclusively on credit cards for payment.

    Robertson, the gambling opponent, said Leach's bill is a step in the right direction, but doesn't go as far as he'd like. For example, he said, the bill excludes the politically powerful horse racing industry, which profits mightily from legal U.S.-based sites like youbet.com.

    "Everything about Internet gambling is set up to be addictive," said Robertson. "Number one: you don't have to leave home. Number two: it's available to kids and anybody with a credit card."

    Owens, the lawyer, acknowledged that Internet gambling poses risks. But he said it's hypocritical to single out one style of play.

    "Here's the country that has Las Vegas, Atlantic City, riverboats up to Iowa and Indian gambling under every tree. Not to mention state lotteries," said Owens, the son of a thoroughbred trainer. "Now you're going to turn around and say Internet casinos are undermining the moral tone of the United States? It's just plain silly."

    Mohammadzadeh fits the profile of the typical online gambler, according to the gaming association's research. He's a young, well-educated man who packs a larger bankroll than the average casino player.

    On campus, he bears the marks of a regular guy: Soft-spoken and smart. He occasionally cooks for his housemates and friends at communal dinners.

    Mohammadzadeh's brown eyes focus sharply on the screen as he places $1 and $2 bets on the wildly popular site partypoker.com. He works three card tables at a time, sometimes four, and seems to have an instinct for knowing whether to play the cards he's dealt.

    There was a time in Mohammadzadeh's life when he was gambling as many as 40 hours a week inside Berkeley card rooms. Now, he's online for a couple of hours a day. He'll maintain that pace for six months or so, he said, and then turn off the computer for months.

    Mohammadzadeh said the legal ambiguity doesn't bother him or any of his gambling buddies at UC Davis, who often trade online gambling tips and play real-life Texas hold 'em. They don't feel any different about playing online than going to the casino or a card room.

    "Look around," Mohammadzadeh said, as the online avatars anted up for another hand. "All you see is poker on TV and commercials for casinos everywhere."

    "People want to gamble," he said. "It's only getting bigger, bigger and bigger."

  2. #2
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    Sorta like the legalizing drugs argument. If it was so bad then, why is it a good thing now that the states are making money hand over fists with it? Oregon is incredibly dependent on revenues from gambling.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt
    Sorta like the legalizing drugs argument. If it was so bad then, why is it a good thing now that the states are making money hand over fists with it? Oregon is incredibly dependent on revenues from gambling.

    I agree, RDS. I think all gambling legislation comes down to whether or not the government is making money off of it. It's all very hypocritical. All this legislation will do is drive normal Americans who play poker on their computers underground, where there can be no regulation, no taxation, and no real consumer protection. I think most people would be willing to pay a moderate tax for an American based business for which they feel there will be accountability rather than use a tax-free offshore operation which offers little to no recourse in the event of fraud. All of the popular poker sites right now are based offshore in places like Costa Rica and Gibralter, while most of their business comes from Americans.

    Philosophically I believe that if someone wants to use their own money to play a game of poker, they should damn well be allowed to. Tax it like any other business -- it will have the best result for the government and for Amercians.

  4. #4
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    I dont think gambling should be illegal, period.

  5. #5
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    The House is expected to pass a ban on virtually all internet gambling today. Of all people I agree with on this issue, the socialist Barney Frank said it best:


    Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts said he thought the bill was "outrageous."

    "If people want to do something, and it doesn't hurt anybody else, we ought to mind our own business," Frank said on Monday. "This is a bill to tell adults not to do something because people in this body disapprove of what they do."





    Republicans should NOT need lessons on liberty from a socialist Democrat. But they got one, and they deserve it.

  6. #6
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    Funny how they're only interested in liberty in select cases :/

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm357
    I dont think gambling should be illegal, period.
    Agreed! Who really gives a shit....other than the gov!
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lepdford
    Agreed! Who really gives a shit....other than the gov!
    The only reason I'd care is because it's hard to keep a lid on fraud - There are a million ways for a programmer to increase the odds of the house, and who's gonna keep an eye on it?

    But it doesn't affect me - The only gambling I do is an occasional Texas lottery ticket, and the round trip from work to home every day.

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  9. #9
    Andrewtx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie
    The only reason I'd care is because it's hard to keep a lid on fraud - There are a million ways for a programmer to increase the odds of the house, and who's gonna keep an eye on it?

    But it doesn't affect me - The only gambling I do is an occasional Texas lottery ticket, and the round trip from work to home every day.

    Charlie,

    I think that's a good point, and also a very good example of why if the idiots here in Washington had any sense, they would realize that they could let American companies operate their own websites, tax them, and regulate them. I really do believe that people would be willing to pay a reasonable tax in exchange for knowing that there were dealing with an American company whose software had been evaluted by someone akin to the Nevada gaming commission.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie
    The only reason I'd care is because it's hard to keep a lid on fraud - There are a million ways for a programmer to increase the odds of the house, and who's gonna keep an eye on it?

    But it doesn't affect me - The only gambling I do is an occasional Texas lottery ticket, and the round trip from work to home every day.
    Good point...I guess I have a different point of view than most, because I do not gamble. The way I see it...if your dumb enough to gamble, then your dumb enough to lose your money. You don't gamble with money your not willing to lose, right? Because chances are really good that you are going to lose it.

    I agree that someone does need to monitor the games though, to keep honest men, honest.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lepdford
    I agree that someone does need to monitor the games though, to keep honest men, honest.

    Yeah, but it would need to be regulated by the federal government. No state should have jurisdiction on online gambling because it has to do with Interstate Commerce.

    Which would lead to a tax. If it would be untaxed, then its just another thing that the government would spend money and get none in return for.


    I see a huge money laundering issues, and I see it being more of a pain in the ass then its worth. Imagine how hard it would be to regulate this?

    Make it illegal.
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  12. #12
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    The thing is, how do you block offshore gambling sites? Is the USA going to require the Internet Backbone telecom companies to install "Net Nanny"?

    Or are they going to penalize users whose credit card accounts show transactions with these companies?

    I see huge privacy & technical issues to overcome, and it makes no sense to me to make US gambling sites illegal, if a gambling site in Costa Rica rolls in millions of dollars, tax-free.

    I'm with LEPDFord... It's easier not to give a shit
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 07-11-06 at 08:40 PM.

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