Monday, June 05, 2006

Antiguan lawyer excited by U.S. crackdown. It is beautiful to watch the U.S. try to snatch defeat from the arms of victory. The WTO's decision in the Antiguan online gambling case was really a victory for the U.S. The court ruled for Antigua, but only to the extent that U.S. law needed a tweak. An online gambling ban was upheld, as long as it was applied without regard to international borders. In other words, if it was necessary to block internet gambling for the public good, then laws couldn't permit online horse wagers from domestic operators. But rather than make the necessary adjustments (and kick the domestic track industry while they're already down), the U.S. is ignoring the WTO decision, showing again this administration's contempt for international law, and meanwhile indicting the operators of offshore businesses for running casinos outside its jurisdiction, for accepting wagers from the United States. It should be a simple matter to prove in court the U.S. has done literally nothing to move towards compliance with the WTO's decision.

The U.S. government certain has a right to outlaw internet gambling. They really shouldn't, due to the evident unenforcability of such a law, and the obvious demand for the services the casinos offer. But regulating gambling is certainly a valid role of government, just like regulating alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or anything else with potentially negative social costs. But the negative social cost of placing a bet on a horse with a intermediary based in Del Mar and one based in Antigua is the same. The only difference is the U.S. bears the social cost, while receiving no tax revenue or other positive effect. The choices are clear: Really outlaw internet gambling, domestic or foreign, or bring internet gambling on-shore. The present plan, showing contempt for international law while gambling on the web continues unabated, accomplishes nothing, neither for those pro or con. But the current plan in the Congress seems to be to ignore the WTO decision, and simply pass more draconian legeslation, that ignores the sole matter that makes the entire effort illegal. "I've said it before and I'll say it again: Democracy just doesn't work."

In a related story, well-to-do, well-educated young online gamblers entice U.S. casino operators. Among the claims of a new study,

Online gamblers are not the desperate or vulnerable loners they're often perceived to be. They tend to be younger, more affluent and better-educated than gamblers who frequent land-based casinos.
I'm offended. I'll have you know I am very much a desperate and vulnerable loner.

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