Saturday, March 28, 2009

The GOP's war on gambling

You probably remember when the Republicans still controlled both the White House and Congress they passed a law making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. This greatly affected the market share of overseas companies. Times being what they are now, the European Union, which oversees trade policy for a 27-nation bloc, revisited the issue and released a report noting the crackdown on European online gambling companies violates U.S. commitments under the World Trade Organization. They're presently seeking "a negotiated solution with the United States rather than file a groundbreaking complaint at the WTO."

The new Democratic majority apparently agrees and plans "to introduce legislation after the April 6-17 congressional break to overturn the U.S. ban on Internet gambling." It's about time. The GOP's vendetta on gambling struck me as one of the more egregious examples of nanny government run amok. I'd love to see the morality police of the American Taliban kicked back to the curb on this one.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Internet gambling bothers me actually and because it's hard to regulate and police. We can keep the games in Vegas reasonably honest but what do you do when the "casino" is a mailbox in Tortola?

1:32:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I don't know. I'm not a gambler Fogg, but I know a couple of people who were making a living playing on-line poker. I didn't hear any compliants from them.

If a game is crooked, people won't play, no? Seems more free market than most of the business that goes on in the world to me.

2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Unregulated markets?? Ohmagawd! She's sold out!!

People will play rigged games if they don't know they are rigged and the Nigerians make millions and millions on a game that's 100% rigged, but really, I'm too aware of the odds to be a gambler. (and too cheap)

2:34:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

And by the way, there's an ad on the sidebar for gambling addiction treatment. What are the odds on that one? ;-)

2:36:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Gawd, haven't the ads been awful? It's been a cesspool of wingnut links for days now. I don't know who they think is going to click on that stuff.

The hazard of relying on keywords I guess.

4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

It's prob'ly more local economic interests, rather than morality or concern for the citizen's pocketbooks that motivates these 'Pukes. Every State in the Union except Utah and Hawaii has some form of gambling now, from dollar lotto to billion-dollar casinos. In some of these broke-ass regions, gambling is the only industry left after years of 'Pukes & DINO's shipping whole industries overseas. Online gambling just takes money out of home-State pockets. Not to mention the taxes.

6:48:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

But wouldn't, or couldn't the banks keep records and issue some form for the taxes?

I don't know a thing about internet gambling, but from what I read I got the impression that a lot of it was just penny ante local stuff anyway. It's just the overseas co's complaining, but I think the law shut everybody down.

But I do agree that it was probably targeted towards protecting the local offline gambling.

8:19:00 PM  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

Online gambling? Too much wiggle room for fraud. Libby, yah wanna buy default swaps on credit cards ... the next great frontier?

10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Libby, from what I understand, taxation of Internet businesses is still somewhat limited, and hard to manage. Using off-shore banks might get around that and make collection even harder. But it could also violate the post-9/11 money-laundering restrictions, so the Gov have that on their side. Online gambling is huge, and international, apparently. Like illegal porn, they can set up shop on a remote island or in a banana republic that doesn't have treaties with the US, and hide behind various anti-tracking measures. The way they bust them is usually through the banks, if they'll cooperate. It's complicated, I guess. But I don't think the Euro's would be kvetching if there weren't any money in it for them, profits or taxes. And they still have some State banks, too, I think. The US take could top $5 billion annually in Federal taxes alone.

Personally, I think gambling is the worst of all vices. But there's no stopping it, so they might as well tax it. They should be taxing the Hell out of the casino's themselves, but they're experts at hiding and shifting money. In NJ, there has been little benefit from one of the largest gambling operations in the world, even within AC itself, which remains a slum right outside the casinos. Yet the State still suffers all the disadvantages of gambling: Prostitution, addiction, robbery, fraud, bankruptcy, broken homes, mental illness. And people who use deodorant and cologne instead of soap and water, so they never have to leave the tables.

NJ has a diversified economy and an affluent, well-educated population. I really hate to see these other, poorer States that don't have these advantages cynically promoting gambling as an "industry" that can take the place of all the real ones they've lost. Very few gambling centers can claim to be a draw for worldwide tourism like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. The rest are just engaged in a game of beggar-my-neighbor, literally.

11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I just saw a headline this morning that Vegas is hurting from the downturn. I figure gambling addicts will find a way to gamble no matter what they do and I find the law just another way to impose morality.

And it occurs to me that a lot of gambling goes untaxed whether or not you make it illegal. It just drives it underground.

9:17:00 AM  

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