Online gambling ban should be repealed

Online poker

The online poker ban should probablty be folded. Photo Credit: Felix Hammer, Florian Thauer, Lothar May, Oskar Lindqvist/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Recently, the proprietor of an online gaming site was arrested for running an online gambling site, along with other charges. There isn’t an official online gambling ban, but rather a ban on banks transferring money to them, which maybe should be repealed.

Online gambling ban another nanny state intervention

Several days ago, according to ABC, federal agents arrested Raymond Bitar, the proprietor of FullTiltPoker.com, an online gambling site. Charges were filed against Bitar last year for gambling, money laundering and bank fraud. According to the Wall Street Journal, Full Tilt Poker, an online poker site run affiliated with the professional poker team Full Tilt, is alleged to be running a Ponzi scheme as it has been unable to return deposits or “buy-ins” from players while management continued to draw salary.

Part of the reason why he was arrested is that the government enacted a de facto online gambling ban in 2006.

Legislated into near bankruptcy

Part of the reason Full Tilt has not been able to return payments to players is that it is illegal for banks in the United States to have anything to do with online gambling, due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which forbids it. Had it not been for this law and the $115 million seized by the United States government, the company may have been able to return the $160 million it owed to players in the U.S., as of September 2011.

Granted, the massive salaries Full Tilt paid its executives, more than $400 million in the past decade, probably didn’t help. It certainly does them no favors in the court of public opinion. Any business that has problems with the bottom line but continues to pay executives and shareholders massive amounts is dishing out self-inflicted punishment. However, people who want to indulge in online gambling are the  ones who are suffering for it.

Clearly people want it

Gambling can be addictive and harmful, but so can tobacco, alcohol and many other things. It is irrefutable that people want it, just like they want alcohol, tobacco, short term loans, or many other things which some consider reprehensible. The United States, according to Reason magazine, is unique in that virtually every other developed nation on earth allows online gambling for money.

Casino gambling, in and of itself, is a huge industry. According to the Kansas City Star, non-Indian casinos posted $35.6 billion in revenue in 2011, providing $12.9 billion in wages and tips to the industry’s 339,000 workers, contributing almost $8 billion in taxes to local and state governments. Online betting, in 2010, was partaken of by 10 million people, according to the Christian Science Monitor. That same year, 1.9 million people played online poker for money, placing $18 billion in bets, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Clearly, people want it. Why not let them have it and allow them to be responsible?

Sources

Wall Street Journal

ABC

Wall Street Journal

Reason: http://reason.com/archives/2008/01/03/the-internet-gambling-ban

Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2011/0418/A-full-tilt-federal-shutdown-of-online-poker

Kansas City Star: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/09/3602928/business-notes-casino-industry.html

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