Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why Internet Gambling is Hazardous to Your Health

You probably wondered (as I have) what makes Internet gambling worthy of federal indictments and possible multi-decade prison terms.

What won't they make illegal next?


Internetgambling You probably wondered (as I have) what makes Internet gambling worthy of federal indictments and possible multi-decade prison terms.
What won't they make illegal next?
Statelottery State lotteries are good for you, you can tell by the smiling faces of winners and the huge media hype that attends mega-winners. Certainly Las Vegas and (to a lesser degree) Tahoe and Reno are preferred destinations, the minute parents no longer have to drag their kids to Disney-Whatever.
Internet gambling has been decreed bad for you by your own congressman, the Senator from your own state and the president you elected to safeguard your moral train from running off the rails.
These preservationists, these worriers about your best interests, have yet to find a way to tap the Internet tree, so they can sugar their reelection black-holes. So, (for the time being) not only is Internet gambling bad for your teeth, fattening and habit-forming, but it can get you a jail term.
Who’d a thunk it?
Albertogonzales Gary Kaplan, founder of BetOnSports, a Brit gambling Internet site, was arrested a week or so ago and charged with 22 federal crimes. Let this be evidence, if evidence be needed, that Alberto’s on the case, ever alert to Americans being led astray, ever vigilant lest moral turpitude set in. Like AA, Gonzales is there when you get that irresistible desire to lay a little cash against the spread.
According to the Associated Press,
In Geneva on Friday, at the World Trade Organization, a compliance panel ruled that the United States had failed to change its ban on Internet betting to comply with a W.T.O. ruling that said the legislation unfairly aims at offshore casinos.
Oops.
Geneva. You probably have heard of Geneva, home of other conventions that the United States has chosen to ignore when it suited them. Stand by for sanctions against the U.S. No one has (as yet) sanctioned us for torture, but the world is willing to take only so much from that rascally America. When it comes to gambling, the WTO patience is at its limit.
Moralmajority It’s a clear setback for this moral-majority government of ours.
The White House was all excited two years ago because the WTO initially recognized its right to prevent offshore betting “as a means of protecting public order and public morals.” But now, in order to comply with the WTO ruling, the government would either have to allow Americans to gamble over foreign-based sites (morally offensive) or close down off-track Internet betting on horses (morally encouraged), as permitted under the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act.
Everybody loves horses.
Indiancasino Morality may yet be headed to court, at least as practiced by this gambling-friendly administration. In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that, as sovereign political entities, federally recognized Native American tribes could operate gaming facilities free of state regulation.
Kaplan’s BetOnSports is a British company, but for the Bush administration, the jury is still out on whether Britain satisfies the definition of a ‘sovereign political entity.’
Hasn't  come up, hasn’t really been put to the test since 1776.
Another Brit outfit (www.national-lottery.co.uk) is doing just fine in the United States, touting Monopoly Gold, Rabbit Riches and Powerball. Then there’s the site's Pac Man, Lucky, Leprechaun, Spending Spree, Snakes & Ladders, Buried Treasure, Red Hot—need I go on?
In October, President Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, making it a felony to roll certain dice and draw certain cards and mess with certain Bush supporters. Named beautifully, it was (or may prove to be) unlawful.
Inelsonrose According to an article by I. Nelson Rose, Professor of Law, Whittier Law School,
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was rammed through Congress by the Republican leadership in the final minutes before the election period recess.  According to Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), no one on the Senate-House Conference Committee had even seen the final language of the bill.  The Act is title VIII of a completely unrelated bill, the Safe Port Act, HR 4954, dealing with port security.
Another of those embarrassing last-minute slip-ins, like the (now-removed) loophole in the renewal of the Patriot Act that allowed the White House to go around Congress on Justice Department attorney appointments. Another ‘no one noticed.’ If there’s one thing we have learned from this administration it is to be constantly vigilant, because they are used to having their way and if they can’t have it by hook, then crook is always good enough.
Jackabramoff2 Jack Abramoff may be gone, along with Tom DeLay, but the delay of special interest money in the pockets of the crooks like Bill Frist in Congress, never faltered.
Messing with free access to Internet sites is a hot-button in many quarters. Not because so many love gambling (although that’s true), but because web patriots see the government camel’s head in their tent as a precursor to the whole camel snuggling in.
My guess is that the government busybodies, clearly in the pocket of various U.S. gambling interests, will lose this one and Gary Kaplan will be intimidated, but off the hook.
Poker Even so, it took a while for the Iranians to let those Brit sailors go. It will no doubt take a while for the Bush White House to be relieved (by the courts) of it’s attachment to moneyed gambling interests, playing us all for suckers in the guise of ‘protecting our morals.’
If you’re really interested in morals, you’ll find them in the dictionary between moraine and morass. Which is particularly edifying, because a morass is a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot.
That’s where you're likely to find yourself when you begin to take it upon yourself to define other people’s morals.
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