A bunch of politicians have been pushing for this for quite some time, but this weekend, it surprised many people when the Senate was able to squeeze in an anti-gambling bill with an unrelated bill on port security. While the administration has long claimed that online gambling was already illegal, it wasn't entirely clear from the language of existing legislation what was covered and what could be done about it. This new law helps clarify it and tacks on punishment. Of course, it seems reasonable to ask what online gambling has to do with port security. It also seems reasonable to ask why an activity that millions of adults choose to engage in, and which can easily be regulated (and taxed) should be outright banned. What will be really interesting is seeing what comes next. While all the big online gambling sites have said stuff about stopping bets from folks in the US, it's unlikely they'll really be able (or all that willing) to do so. People will still be online. At the same time, the WTO has already pointed out that the US's attitude towards online gambling is in violation of various agreements -- but it's not like the US is going to bother listening to an organization like the WTO. Still, this ban seems unlikely to work, and only likely to infuriate a bunch of Americans who don't see anything wrong with playing an occasional hand of poker online. And, of course, it's not even worth looking at the various exceptions for the types of gambling (state lotteries and horses) that politicians think are just dandy.
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