I know there are more important things going on in the world, but the Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, recently signed into law, really has me steamed. And not only because it has caused one (but, fortunately, only one) of my internet gambling sites to close out my account.
There are many grounds upon which one might say that particular laws are "bad," and this one seems to have all of them in one package. Let's see, where to begin? ...
First, it will not work. It is already not that difficult to evade the law's restrictions — if you get some form of e-cash, you can transfer that to and from offshore gambling sites without restriction. It's not all that easy now to do that — but I guarantee you that it will be a whole lot easier a year or two down the road. Duh.
I'd gladly stake $100 on the following proposition:
"The total dollar volume of online offshore gambling originating in the U.S. will be substantially greater in 2011 than it is in 2006."If there's anybody out there silly enough to want to take me up on that and to $100 on the other side, let me know.
Second, it perpetuates a truly insidious form of State regulation that would be laughable if it were not so nasty. There's a very good reason that Jack Abramoff's client list consisted primarily of people in the gambling business — there are prodigious opportunities for monopoly rent-seeking in the current regulatory scheme. Like: get yourself designated an Indian tribe, and you're on your way to riches. Third: to the extent that there really are people for whom gambling is a real addiction that is destroying their lives, this will insure that they go underground (see point 1) and find ways (which will be readily at hand) to gamble in untraceable ways.
Fourth: It is incomprehensible gibberish. Take a look at the law and try to read it and understand it. Really. This is your law, after all (at least, for those of you logging in from the US). Yet I suspect that there isn't one person in a thousand who could make sense of this document in a reasonable period of time. What does it mean? When law becomes incomprehensible to those supposedly subject to it, it ceases to be law anymore, at least in my book ...
Fifth: It discriminates, in a rather nasty way, against the poor — it doesn't stop anyone from going to Las Vegas to do all the gambling they wish, but if they want to do that without the expense of traveling, no go. Sixth: It is protectionist (and quite probably a violation of our international obligations under the GATT) — the whole purpose is to disadvantage overseas businesses and advantage domestic providers.
Seventh: it is unconstitutional. Well, I'm not so sure about this one, I admit. But here's my argument: it would clearly be an abridgement of my constitutional right to travel for Congress to pass a statute prohibiting me from going to the UK and participating in (legal) gambling while I was there. The Act, in practical effect, does the same thing. I know it's not really "travel" when one "goes" to an offshore website. But the rationale behind the constitutional right, it seems to me, is as applicable here as in the "physical travel" realm.