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Overturn the Ban on Internet Gambling? March 5, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Government, Internet.

The legality concerning internet gambling is very unclear up to this day. Although there is no specific law that prohibits online gambling, the government has made attempts to prevent it from happening. I remember last year in August when my friend (who was pretty much addicted to online poker) found out that legislation forced U.S. banks and credit card companies to block electronic transactions to internet gambling businesses. It was a successful attempt by Congress to cut this habit out of people’s lives. My friend was devastated and has not gambled online since.

Does banning online gambling really help the already addicted gamblers? Online players have only shifted to smaller, privately owned sites. They have to find alternative ways to transfer their money. Some may even be motivated to get involved with underground, illegal organizations just to fuel their addiction. Alfonse D’Amato, the former Republican senator from New York, is against this “rubbish” ban is trying to overturn this ban. He states,

“When you have regulation, where you have openness, you can ensure you have a game that won’t be unfairly cut or disadvantaged or manipulated.”

He also points out that the government can tax the winnings of players since it is such a big industry. Sure there are people who abuse online gambling and have made it an addiction, but is it fair to punish everyone else? There are people who are financially unable or physically unable to make it to a casino. Should we take this pastime away from them? Should the money the government spends on enforcing this ban be used in better alternative ways (i.e. battle against money laundering, trafficking in drugs/terrorism)? Should the online gambling companies be punished, especially since this is a billion dollar industry?



1. Professor Jordi - March 5, 2007

There is an argument that the rise of acceptance of gambling signals a major shift in societal values. Gambling used to be outlawed and frowned upon because it did not represent a good work ethic. You do not want your banker or accountant demonstrating poor judgment in any sphere of life. And simply playing a game that is about unnecessary risk for unearned rewards smacks of poor judgment.

The loosening of taboos surely started with the rise of taxes by another name: state lotteries. The odd legal status of Indian reservations helped.

I don’t completely agree with this view. Specifically, I am loathe to over-legislate moral choices. And it strikes me as deeply hypocritical that politicians want to make gambling open and taxable and not drug use. However, I also find the spread of a get-rich easy mentality and the illusion of controlling the numbers through gambling
very unsettling. Is there a correlation between day traders and gamblers? How many pensions will be lost? The diffuse threat of poor decision-making bothers me as much as the minority of addicted gamblers.

2. Jordi - March 6, 2007

We never leave people completely free to make choices that are only about themselves. Suicide is outlawed. Gay marriage is outlawed. Medical clinical trials are regulated. Marijuana is outlawed, but not tobacco. Fuel efficiency is mandated. So are seatbelts and helmets on cycles. And on and on.

Any legislation about personal choices, about protecting people or other common goods, is always going to strike some balance between liberty, greater goods, and social control. The devil is in the details. Why ban online gambling but not medical marijuana? Why tax gasoline but not factory farming? Tough choices will be about better decisions based on limited facts.

Lady, its very trusting of you to bring up your family. I hope we honor that trust. I think it would be easy to conclude that gambling should be outlawed if you have seen the worst effects of it.

3. wilson7 - March 6, 2007

I think that if online gambling was deemed illegal there would be alot less gambling in the United States. Most people do online gambling because you can do it from the comfort of your own home. If people were forced to actually get up and go to a casino instead of sitting in the pajamas just relaxing in their own homes this would make several individuals not do it.

Another reason people gamble online in poker especially is that people do not have good poker faces. It is easier to bluff somebody if they cannot see you but if you are actually in their face they can see facial expression or body movement. So I believe that if the government stopped online gambling then many people would stop doing it.

4. Don - March 7, 2007


5. Janine - March 7, 2007

Like addictions to coffee, food, sex, whatever it may be, it is just that, an addiction!! Addictions mean that a certain behavior has been repeated too much and uncontrollably. It is not a positive thing. All things should be handled in moderation. Therefore, with this in mind, online gambling has become an addiction for many, and it is not wrong for the govt. to step in and try to control the business. People have lost thousands of dollars, if not millions, on online web sites. I have known many people who have done just that. It is sad. They lose months of pay, tap into savings, and take out loans on their credit cards, all just to support this addiction. The govt. should step in. It has gone far enough. How are they to tell which people are addicts and which are those that simply want to sign on because they cannot get to the local Mohegan Sun? It is too risky, so whatever measure the govt. has to take to ensure that people do not lose too much with these site, I think it is worth it.

6. Lady - March 8, 2007

I believe that I am torn between this issue. Personally, I am opposed to gambling for two reasons: 1) it is a sin according my to religion Christianity and 2) because my mother has been addicted to gambling for a while and it has negatively affected our financial stability. So an effort to eradicate gambling addictions might be in my favor.

However, in terms of business, I don’t think that this legislation should be allowed to forced U.S. banks and credit card companies to block electronic transactions to internet gambling businesses. Gambling is a personal choice, and if people want to do it, then they will find the means to do it. Therefore, I don’t think there is anything wrong with providing this service if consumers want it. There are many other negative things that business make money off of. Just like the advertising of cigarettes and alcohol, gambling is good for the economy (in monetary terms).

So while I may not necessary agree with gambling, I don’t think the U.S. legislation has the right to try to influence the consumer’s wants and determine what is right for him. Just as I don’t believe that one should be told what religion to follow and believe in.

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