To Protect Our Ports, We've Now Banned Online Gambling

from the say-what? dept

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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Comments on “To Protect Our Ports, We've Now Banned Online Gambling”

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Tyshaun says:

Re: Re: We need a new law

So how about a new law that says you can’t put a completely unrelated amendment on a bill? Like banning online gambling in the same bill as port security. bush wants a line item veto, and the dems wont give it to him

First of all the line item veto has been an issue of contention for most of the modern age, it isn’t a “Dems won’t give it to him” thing. Clinton wanted the same thing and didn’t get it, so did every President I ever read about since Kennedy. Btw, since the Dems don’t control the house or the senate I think it’s a little more complicated than the Democrats not giving it to them, seems a lot of Bush’s Republican allies don’t want him to have it either. I think a line item veto is a horrible idea because it breaks a fundamental check and balance between congress and the president. The president signs the laws, congress writes them.

Also, let’s remember earlier in the year where the Republicans tried to get Alaska drilling approved by tacking it on to a bill to raise the minimum wage. As sleazy as it is, that is the nature of modern politics. If people don’t like what you propose include it with something they do want or need and force feed it down their throats.

As per the original issue, I remember when I was a kid lots of church groups sponsoring bus rides to Atlantic City casinos for the day. It amazaes me how the religious right can be so against gambling and particpate in activities like this (or the ubiquitous bingo night held in church halls across the country). I think the issue isn’t so much about gambling but the fact that the government didn’t feel they could get a good enough cut of the pie, so they outlawed it.

Ben(damnit) says:

Re: We need a new law

I agree with Laws-R-U.S., Ridders should be illegal. they use them to pass poor legislation that wouldn’t have a chance on it’s own, so they have to tack it onto something that needs passed. any congressman or senator that adds completely unrelated amendments to bill should be beaten untill they reveal how much they were paid (i’m sorry, how large the ‘donation’ to their campaign was) and which lobbyist paid them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We need a new law

of course you shouldn’t be able to add unrelated stuff onto a bill. that’s just common sense, but you’re talking about washington. this is very similiar to the “war on drugs.” we all know how that is working out.

what we should really be doing is putting term limits on these clowns. the senate is a joke. a bunch of old rich men who haven’t been in touch with our version of the world for a very very long time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thats politics, thats how it works. Who wants to veto a port security bill?

I think you are showing very simple thinking when it comes to online gambling. I know the govt. allows lotteries and horse racing, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

I think you underestimate the damage done to society via online gambling, and gambling in general.

Egat says:

Re: Re:

Got any evidence to back up claims of societal damage done?

Like any activity a human can partake in, gambling can pose a problem to those with addictive personalities. However, in the absence of the ability to gamble, many would just move on to another self-destructive addiction.

Online gambling has advantages over the traditional industry, as far as society is concerned. Traditional casino’s have a reputation for attracting very seedy characters, with online gambling, that is eliminated.

The only reason this was pushed was that the government didn’t have it’s hands in it, so they outlawed it till they could figure out how to take a cut.

T. Bass says:

Re: Online Line Gaming

The way this bill was passed was nothing less than shady and under handed. I don’t care what the bill was for. Anytime the government wants to take away one of my rights to do anything they need to address it separately and openly giving ample opportunity for opposition. (Remember Representation!!!)

Furthermore, the reasons being given as to why online gambling should be banned are so bizarre. Someone sitting at home playing poker etc. online does not pose any threat whatsoever at all to society. Online casinos don’t extend credit so it is hard to go beyond your means. I can sit safely at home close to my family and play or I can go out to a Indian Casino to play. Where if I dare have just one drink I have to stay longer or run the risk of a DUI and become subject to automatic jail time under the new laws. This is a no brainer!!

Whether you are opposed to gambling or eating a cheese sandwich is your business only and you are entitled to rule your life accordingly. I however am entitled to do the same. Simply put stay out of my box!!!! The “powers that be” ought to re-think the “whys”, and even more so, the “how” this bill was passed. Who really benefited from it? How much of our tax money is being spent to enforce it. Should banks be policing financial transactions?
Is this still America?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If gambeling is wrong, maby we should address the citizens and explain why instead of passing a law (under handedly at that) to make it illegal, i mean if it were legal but noone did it because its immoral, and socially wrong, than it wouldnt be a profitable venture, so instead of wrestling with the law over right and wrong, get the citizens to wrestle with their money, its supposed to be freedom which our country is based on and laws like these do nothing but deteriorate our freedoms… if this trend is to continue, we will loose our right to free speech for talking about how much Bush sucks, or about how cool the latest (insert fad psycho killing game here) is…. althought it may be right by the bible, this country was founded on freedoms and seperation of church and state, so that society can decide whats right and wrong, not the church….

Bob Jones says:

What do the folks think?

Anonymous Coward makes good points, gambling is dangerous, but what do the folks think of this? It seems to me that this whole huff and puff about gambling is coming from the Religous Right (wing) … thats fine if the folks agree, but what is the general feeling among Americans when it comes to gambling? I know a lot of the country is Christian, but how many are devout enough to a. not gamble, b. not want others to gamble?

todd says:

Re: What do the folks think?

Religion doesn’t/shouldn’t pay any part in this. If gambling is legal and you find it against your morals/religion to gamble, then don’t do it. It’s that simple. And if enough people believe that way, there won’t be enough business for these sites to stay open and they’ll close. I don’t see that happening, but that’s how a market economy works.

As far as gambling being dangerous, what about legalized gambling like the lottery. I know in some states the state collects the profits and uses it for education. And since we all know how important it is to ‘protect the children’ gambling (lottery) is just another way to do this.

I am aware that there are some people who become addicted and end up in serious financial trouble, but these people aren’t the norm. Although it is difficult to conduct an acurate unbiased study of the affects of crime in a community when a casino opens, there is significant evidence that suggest that casinos don’t have a negative impact on crime, but may even reduce crime in certain situation because of the large number of new jobs created by the casino.

(pardon my ramblings, I got way off topic)

Time for me to cash out and go home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Try walking 3 blocks away from the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, its not pretty.

Lotteries do bring in money for school (when the politicians don’t screw around with the money) but states are feeding off of tainted money. They hurt their own (probably stupid) people to pay for education instead of fighting for what is right. They take the easy way out.

Towns up and down the Mississippi passed riverboad gambling laws to improve the economy, only to bring in a bad element, minimum wage jobs and take from again ignorant peoples meger paychecks.

Forget about what is morally right, forget about religion. What is good for society. I doubt you can point to anything that shows gambling actually improves it.

Are office pools, home poker games and gambling like this beneficial? Of course, it provides social interaction, fun and excitement. When gambling is done by industry, it pretty much tears at societies fabric. It brings with it crime and a bad element.

Its one thing for the gaming industry to do this, and they should be watched very carefully to not be allowed to run amok. It is quite another thing for our own govt. to be in the same game. The govt. is supposed to protect the people, not exploit it.

I know, its everybodies right to choose, but there is a large part of society that just can’t handle it, and the govt. should be there to make sure that they are not taken advantage of. They are there to protect. They are there for us.

stupid dummy says:

Re: Re:

Bad element thats us. the poker players and the terrorists. dont tell me you are that stupid to think the people who have issues with gambling addictions will stop gambling. of course not. Only those off us who do not have a problem will stop, the problem gamblers will lose it anyway. Dont worry though jesus will save you SCHMUCK

stupid dummy says:

Re: Anonymous Coward

Bad element thats us. the poker players and the terrorists. dont tell me you are that stupid to think the people who have issues with gambling addictions will stop gambling. of course not. Only those off us who do not have a problem will stop, the problem gamblers will lose it anyway. Dont worry though jesus will save you SCHMUCK

Jason Ballew says:

Re: Re:

I know, its everybodies right to choose, but there is a large part of society that just can’t handle it, and the govt. should be there to make sure that they are not taken advantage of. They are there to protect. They are there for us.

Actually, it is -not- the federal government’s role to ‘protect’ the citizens from themselves. The federal government has no right to legislate morality. Put limits on it? Sure. That’s why you have to be 18 to smoke tobacco, 21 to drink alcohol or gamble…

But telling us what we can do with our own money (usually) in our own homes…that’s way beyond what the federal government is there for.

It’s funny how they can find time to pass laws to tell us what we cannot do with our own money, but they can’t find time to come up with laws to protect our borders, help educate our children -properly-, fix the rampant problems in our country…which politics is just one of…

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, this article is infuriating. But, what I want to know is, how stupid are the politicians who signed the bill without reading it. Maybe if they turned the cover page they may have been able to spot a section that was completely unrelated to port security. Here’s a better one, why not just leave gambling regulations to whoever they actually outsource the port security contract to??

Anonymous Coward says:

Egat, there have been many studies of the gambling industry, with towns with riverboats. With Atlantic City, with Nevada (the only state deemed appropriate for our own govt. to nuke). Those are just the financial figures. They never benefit the people of the town, as the wages are low and the profits flow out of region.

Whats the human cost, the cost that can’t be measured. How many lives have been ruined? What is the financial cost for that? How do you put a pricetag on a life, a family, a society?

Adam says:

re: by anonymous coward

Adam, murder could be regulated and taxed, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow that either.

the glaringly obvious difference being that muder had the direct effect of ending someone else’s life. whereas the act of ingesting drugs (and this is certainly NOT limited to the illegal ones, i’m talking alcohol, caffeine, everything) is a personal choice that no one in the world has the right to make for you it directly affects YOU, nots someone else. only you can make the choice to, or not to put something in your body, anything else is absolute bullshit.

see also: Fascism

Logic Anyone? says:


“Adam, murder could be regulated and taxed, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow that either.”

Wow, don’t even get me started on that point…yes, murder is the same as gambling. (uh…no)

Gambling can be just as destructive as say drinking? Smoking? What about you walking down a street and get beat up by some drunk wanting another six pack. Or in a bar fight. Or say a drunk driver.

I’m sorry, but compared to a lot of legal activities…online poker is WAY safer. And tax it, by all means, but don’t be stupid about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Adam, but what you put in your body does affect others. What you do is not always a personal choice, because it does affect others, and society as a whole. The good and the bad, along with people’s rights, have to be considered. Some would say ban everything that is bad for society, some would say ban nothing, somewhere in between is the right choice.

To say ban nothing is as bad as saying ban everything.

Adam says:

Re: A/C's posts

sure… it affects other, however that affectation is indirect, rather than direct.

ie: if i get hooked on something illegal and neglect my child, thats a horrible effect, however indirect.

its the exact same thing as getting hooked on gambling, or hooked on WORK… and neglecting your child, they’re horrible effects.

addiction is addiction no matter how you brand the addicting substance

the point is, the concept of moderation and control is up to the INDIVIDUAL not the STATE. this is why i said “see fascism” in my earlier post.

now stop spouting rhetoric and include some actual substance in your reply.

Stu says:

Don't get bogged down in the BS, folks

The “government” can get a cut of online gambling revenue in a minute – if it wanted to; but our elected politicians don’t care about that.

The politicians do what the the casino industry wants because that’s what the industry pays them to do. Blunt way to put it but true. It’s the same for every industry – pharmaceuticals, automobile air pollution standards – everything.

When the casino industry decides to get into the online gambling industry, the pols will jump into line with a new line of BS to justify themselves.

Meanwhile, no law can prevent people from doing anything they want to do on the internet. So, in the US, it’s untaxed and unregulated.

WillingIndividual says:

You all bitch now

It’s funny, how everyone bitches that this got passed. It’s obvious how it passed. Much like other bills in the past, the idiots that WE’VE ALL ELECTED, not just one party, failed to sit down and read WTF they were signing.

How does this surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. You voted for stupidity, and thus you will recieve more stupidity. Get used to it. Until we, the people, start electing people based on more than our own BIAS for political parties, we will continue to elect MORONS that wont actually do anything for the US people. I SPEAK OF BOTH PARTIES HERE PEOPLE. Fuck partisian politics and lets grow up?

Jack B. Nimble - The Loophole Jumping Lawyer says:


You really have to understand that these politicians are generally greeted with a bill, containing several (read hundreds) of pages about the in-depth analysis about the bill and everything it entails. Well, in the bill admendments page, they often throw small items such as spending increases to purchase orders for items. Hence the name Pork Barrel Politics…

Im just waiting for a politician who is in the job for the job and not the money to tack on a few political paycuts… that is how you get these little additions rectified…

Anonymous Coward says:

got any stats that prove that Gambling is not addictive and dangerous to society?

Isn’t it interesting that many of the same people who hate Wal Mart because they provide such low paying jobs have no problem with an industry that also pays low paying jobs and gives no other wealth (i.e. products) other that “entertainment” (i.e. idle time) back to the community?

If you supposedly hate Wal Mart for their minimum, barely living-wage, then hate the gaming industry as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: got any stats...

Wal Mart’s procedures are a long shot from Gambling companies procedures. Gambling companies don’t push corporations into using foreign labor for their products. They sit there and set up a system that basically lets people give money to them in an entertaining and clever way.

Hmm… kinda like paying for Cable. You don’t really need it, but almost everyone I know dumps about $800 a year into it.

Yes, gambling exploits human nature in every way it can. That’s not good. But it’s presence doesn’t hurt a particular market, nor does it make society any worse of a place.

If this is all based on the good of society, then why is Online Gambling outlawed but not Alcohol?

There’s a risky nature in all of us. Whether it be the stock market, sky diving, or gambling. It’ll always be there. Alcohol isn’t outlawed anymore because, well… you can’t stop people from doing it. Because people demand their freedom to be belligerent, reckless and irresponsible. And we need it. Because otherwise, life might just be boring.

As for Wal Mart… it distorts almost every market it goes into. It promotes unrealistic materialism. It exploits peoples tendency for materialism for their own profit. It promotes unrealistic wages around the world. There are abusive wages from the factories in China to the Warehouses in the US. If Wal Mart can exploit it for profit, they will. To me, that’s a bit worse than providing expensive entertainment.

Sure, with gambling there are a few poor victims of the game. But with gambling… it’s people who chose the risk of becoming a victim.

With Wal Mart, honest workers are victims. The economy is a victim. And communities are victims. This is just as a result of their presence. No one chose to be a victim of Wal Marts procedures. That’s the difference. That’s why I can hate Wal Mart, and not Gambling.

I don’t need stats. It’s right in front of my face.

Jack Handy says:

Deep thoughts

I agree with a lot of the anti-political comments posted on this topic. In general all efforts to legislate morality on a national level of any kind are a) unconstitutional b)stupid, pointless and unenforcable c) really intended to playgate special interest/lobbyist who were paid a lot of money to get the bill passed

I’ll bet(pun intended) that if you really dug into this piece of legislation that you would find a lobbying group back by either religious organziations who are seeing their donations go down due to online gaming or US based gaming corporations who are already restricted from offering online gambling and don’t want you to be able to gamble anywhere other than their casinos.

This is just business as usual for US politics. If you haven’t noticed the american tax payer is for sale. We have been pimped out to anyone willing to contribute to the next campaign/slush fund.

AMP says:

Re: Deep thoughts

playgate? WTF???
Unconstitutional???Well they just passed the bill, now it’s a law, so apparently not so unconstitutional at the moment.
Stupid? pretty much
Unenforcable? I guess we will find out.

“If you haven’t noticed the american tax payer is for sale. We have been pimped out to anyone willing to contribute to the next campaign/slush fund.” – As stated before, the American tax payer elected these people. Everybody needs to wake up and stop voting simply on party lines. Actually pay attention to the issues.

patrick says:

Re: Deep thoughts

In response to Jack Handy (#28 comment), I agree 100%. Jon Kyle of AZ supported the HR4411 Bill but doesn’t seem to think that gambling is a problem when the State receivies proceeds from the State Lottery to the tune of 127 million dollars profit (per local publication) or the percentage each year to the State from our 9+ Indian casinos. Why stop now? The government should also regulate alcohol (let’s try again), tobacco sales, and why not mandate that auto makers manufacture cars that don’t exceed 25 miles per hr. Look at the benefit to families not to lose a love one due to excessive speed. Shucks, we could save the lives of some of our higher taxpayers.

Anonymous Coward says:

by Anonymous Coward on Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 3:30pm

got any stats that prove that Gambling is not addictive and dangerous to society?

you are stupid. why would you where are your stats that prove that it is?

oh, and just a note… anything you do has the potential to be mentally addicting if you enjoy doing it or there’s a “reward” involved in doing it. the information i’m curious about is statistical information regarding the “danger to society” that gambling brings.

Anonymous Coward says:

what i see happening is what happens in the japan arcades. I don’t recall the name of the game, but you take your “tokens” to the prize bar, and get an egg or something. then you go around the corner and “sell” your egg for cash. i can see a halfway place setup, kinda likek paypal. you deposit cash into a legal service. then that service can be used to buy stuff, such as online credits. and the catch is that you arne’t paying the casinos directly. so you can say that u use the account to buy a book off of amazon or whatever. simple enough. right?

Anonymous of Course says:


Ok, so call me old, jaded and cynical but I believe
the reason for the ban has nothing to do with
the protection of the public from the evils of
gambling. And everything to do with money
exchanging hands without the govenment getting
a cut.

The advent of legalized gambling in most states,
due to an insaitable lust for money, leaves the
government with no moral high ground on this
issue. Worst of all it was the lottery, a sucker’s
game, that they instituted as their fool’s tax.

Failing that, they’ve rubbed out some of the
competition. Capone would have approved.

Gambler says:

Gambling does cause social problem.

I’m an online poker player. I don’t lose any money and I can afford to lose if I did lose.

There is no doubt that online gambling is causing social problems and addictions. People who are not good players maybe losing valueable finances need to feed families or pay rent etc…… BUT… don’t punish me for being able to afford to lose money online. Alcohol causes much more problems and it is legal. People with common sense are always suffering becuase the “STUPID” cannot control themselves and end up in trouble. Well I say don’t take my fun away because the “STUPID” need to be protected from themselves.

VOYAGER659 says:

Re: Gambling does cause social problem.

I have read most of the comment on this topic and for some reason the government wants to regulate everything American do in the name of security and to save us from ourselves. People do things in excess sometimes which includes drinking ,gambling , sex, food, drugs . the fact that they stuck this bill on the end of a very no related bill just prove that you can’t trust the people you put into office to represent you. when the laws were changed for example to protect chidren from child abuse it created parent afraid to spank their children (not abuse). You now have children who run household and hold them hostage with the threat of calling the police or kill their parents . Where does it all end. when the law is too extreme Choose any of the other vices and see what you think . If they really want to regulate to get the monies taxed and the gambling regulated they wouldn’t have been so sneaky. I have gambled online for 5 years and like some of my fellow gambler i have not abuse my family ,neglect my job as a matter of fact it help me to relax and have fun. I didn’t to get in my car and drive miles to get to a land based casino or run to the corner store to play scratch offs

Let's Revolt!!! says:

Anti-Govt. All the Way

Does anybody remember the good old days when people weren’t afraid to physically stand up to a corrupt (or even unpopular) government? I wasn’t around for them, and yet I feel we’re being pushed towards that kind of resolution. Online gambling being banned (and deemed a class C felony in Wash.) is just the tip of an iceburg that’s done way more permanent damage. Why are we allowing a bunch of greedy bastards to run our lives, when in a democracy, the voting public is supposed to dictate what is good for themselves. Even a blind man could see that online gambling isn’t as damaging as alcohol, high gas prices, or a war on terror that’s spawning more terrorists than we could ever kill. But, the government doesn’t seem to think that they can profit off of it, so they passed a bill, right under our f’ing noses to ban it. 1 million gun toting Americans on the White House lawn would get a point across, but noone is ready to man up and fight for the rights they claim to deserve.

Freedumb says:

Not too sure about my freedom anymore

So… I’ve been doing some research and it turns out that there are some other countries that have similar laws as this one. Are these the countries we want to have similar laws to? For some reason, the list of contries do not cry out “freedom” and “democracy” as the US claims to have

Here is the list I have compiled so far:

Northern Pakistan

Low-Key Banker says:

Sorry to bust anyone’s bubble….But the reason they are setting us up to trace financial transactions is for future taxation…In our meetings with government officials we were told tracking transactions by our own institutions was the only way…Thus,we stopped fighting the situation once we knew we’d get paid HEAVILY on the back-end. I suggest everyone looks at what Chancellor Brown has put in place in UK as far as the new taxation rate…They(US gov) know lobby reform is coming,but they have found a way to eclipse political contributions through taxation….UK-50% tax on on-land casino profits…15% for on-line……..So don’t fret ladies and gents,the ban is coming down(and truthfully has always been down for those of you who really READ the law itself),but save your energy to witness what will be required by YOU the bettor just to participate with a site,and what information about you sites will be forced to release just to be “licensed and accredited”…..Can you say turn your head and cough,Can you say biometrics…..Sorry guys

Eddie (user link) says:


No offense, but the statement that gambling can be dangerous is a personal opinion that should be “made into law”

It’s against your religious believes, fine. I don’t ask that my OPINION be made into the LAW.

Please keep your right wing religious beliefs to yourself and stop oppressing all the people of this country and making them crimials for not believing the same way you do. Thanks

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