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Jul 14 2012

Why Online Gambling Should Be Legalized

Reason has a video that makes the case for legalizing online gambling, noting that much of the opposition to a California bill to do so came from the Indian casinos, who didn’t want the competition. But the rest of the gaming industry is now in favor of it because they want to start their own sites.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    What’s the government’s reasoning behind attempting to control gambling? Could it be christian sharia law?

  2. 2
    machintelligence

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the house get all of the rake-off with almost no overhead? And how do you go about guaranteeing honesty? This looks like a sucker’s bet. (But then gambling never appealed to me.)

  3. 3
    kagerato

    The monopoly on many kinds of legal gambling granted to the Native American tribes in several states has served as a kind of under-the-radar, largely unacknowledged attempt at reparations. Sadly, it hasn’t worked. Tribal areas are still very poor and there are substantial problems with alcoholism and suicide.

    If we want to help, replacing the gambling monopoly with grants that create a broader jobs base would be a good start. There really aren’t that many sustainable and high-quality jobs created by casinos, and that’s all the more true of online gambling systems which are highly automated. Education and diversification is the key to progress here.

  4. 4
    Ed Brayton

    machintelligence-

    Yes, the house takes a percentage of every pot. You guarantee honesty the same way you do with a regular casino, with licensing, regulation, inspections and such. Those things are impossible without making it explicitly legal.

  5. 5
    reverendrodney

    I am for the right to gamble and other non-victim activities. My friends and I enjoy going to Reno after a weekend of prospecting for gold in the wilderness. And I might try a little online gambling IF I knew absolutely that it wasn’t rigged and I wouldn’t be screwed out of my money.

    About Indian casinos: I just wonder if they share their profits with less advantaged tribes.

  6. 6
    dfarmer1584

    I used to play $10 buy in ($11 with fees), 90 player, no limit texas hold ‘em tournys at Full Tilt. Occasionally I’d win! More often I’d “cash,” and more than half the time I’d just lose. No matter: winning or losing was beside the point. The point of the activiity was soley about having fun and being entertained.

    I played a game I enjoyed, for very low stakes, from the comfort of my own home, against quality competition from all around the world. I had a great time. There was nothing wrong at all with this activity. There were no victims. Just people from all over the earth coming together in cyberspace and having FUN.

    Then one day the powers that be in our free country decided that this activity could not be. It must stop!

    More straws on the camel’s back.

  7. 7
    Olav

    Gambling can be fun, for people who have money to spare and who know what they are doing and when they should stop. For people who don’t, it brings ruin. I am not sure that it should be illegal, but I know for certain that it should not be encouraged. It is not a harmless thing.

  8. 8
    DrVanNostrand

    @reverendrodney

    Recently in California, there was some sort of ballot measure about Indian gaming. There was a lot of debate at the time, and if I recall correctly, the smaller tribes get little or no benefit from gaming. Gaming provides benefits to some, but does little to help the majority of Native Americans.

  9. 9
    Kamaka

    reverendrodney @ 5

    I believe this clan, http://www.shakopeedakota.org/, shares the wealth.

  10. 10
    reverendrodney

    Kamaka,
    Thanks for the link. I was glad to see they are into organic farming and wind power also, and have a basic “good neighbor” policy.

  11. 11
    davidb

    I enjoy playing low stakes online poker, but then I can, being a Brit.

    It has always struck me as rather odd that a country that professes to value personal freedom as much as the USA is so quick to infringe upon it – prohibition and the closing down of the online gaming industry at home and abroad being perhaps the two most obvious examples of it.

    David B

  12. 12
    Area Man

    Gambling can be fun, for people who have money to spare and who know what they are doing and when they should stop. For people who don’t, it brings ruin. I am not sure that it should be illegal, but I know for certain that it should not be encouraged. It is not a harmless thing.

    This is basically my take, though by default I favor legality over illegality. Gambling by psychologically healthy adults is mostly harmless and entertaining for lots of people. There is no reason to interfere with it. But an inordinate number of gamblers are not psychologically healthy. Gambling addiction is a very real thing, and it’s extremely destructive to those afflicted by it and everyone who cares for them or depends on them.

    The ideal situation would be to separate out those who are addicts and keep them away while allowing everyone else to have their good time. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to do that. What’s frustrating to me is that very few people seem to think about it in these terms. Rather, it’s all “freedom vs. vice”, which mostly misses the point.

  13. 13
    Olav

    Area Man:

    This is basically my take, though by default I favor legality over illegality.

    Me too, by default. But as I said: in the case of gambling I am not so sure. At the very least I think that all advertising for gambling should be banned. And gambling should not be combined with hotels, drinking, theatres etc. All those “extra” things casinos do only serve to keep people playing longer and more.

    The ideal situation would be to separate out those who are addicts and keep them away while allowing everyone else to have their good time. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to do that.

    I don’t think it can be done. We can’t trust casinos not to take more money from addicts so any system of prevention would have to be imposed by the government. For such a system to work it would have to be quite draconian.

    What’s frustrating to me is that very few people seem to think about it in these terms. Rather, it’s all “freedom vs. vice”, which mostly misses the point.

    Exactly.

  14. 14
    jameshanley

    Gambling Drinking can be fun, for people who have money to spare and who know what they are doing and when they should stop. For people who don’t, it brings ruin. I am not sure that it should be illegal, but I know for certain that it should not be encouraged. It is not a harmless thing.

    Prohibition to protect the few from themselves. Because it’s always worked so well in the past.

  15. 15
    jameshanley

    The monopoly on many kinds of legal gambling granted to the Native American tribes in several states has served as a kind of under-the-radar, largely unacknowledged attempt at reparations. Sadly, it hasn’t worked. Tribal areas are still very poor and there are substantial problems with alcoholism and suicide.
    .
    If we want to help, replacing the gambling monopoly with grants that create a broader jobs base would be a good start.

    The purpose of the casinos is not to create jobs for the tribal members. Most of the time I’ve spent in Indian casinos (including last night), the great majority of the employees where non-Native American.

    The purpose is to bring money in for the tribal government. How it spends that money is a good proxy for how it would spend a grant from the federal government. If a tribal government is not using the proceeds from gaming to create a broad jobs base, what reason is there for thinking it would do so with a federal grant?

  16. 16
    Olav

    jameshanley:

    Prohibition to protect the few from themselves. Because it’s always worked so well in the past.

    As far as I can tell no one is arguing for prohibition of gambling here. The disadvantages of prohibition are well known. A complete ban on gambling would only drive it underground, indeed just as what happened during the prohibition of alcohol in the USA.

    I do wish we had better ways to protect people from gambling. I do not subscribe to the view that if people are “stupid” enough to fall for a scam they “deserve” to get ripped off. That is, essentially, a sociopathic/predatory view of society. And it is how casinos operate.

  17. 17
    MadHatter

    @15 jameshanley
    One of the things I recall when this got discussed so much in WA state (we have a fair number of reservations) is that the Indian tribes don’t own or run most of these casinos*. That it is mostly big companies that lease the land or something so the tribes get some money but they’re not getting the proceeds really. Grants are also of a different type, they are typically targeted to a specific area and can be checked in on to see how well they’ve worked. The casino system is fairly convoluted. Grants would be a far better idea than casinos, tabacco and firework sales.

    *I’m not sure where I read this and I can’t find it right now

  18. 18
    dingojack

    jameshanley – ’cause a woman going to jail for having defrauded two of her employers of c. $100,000 to feed her gambling habit is a great outcome! The perfect victimless crime, no hurt or harm to anyone, right?*
    @@
    If prohibition is bad, what do suggest instead, open slather?**
    Dingo
    —–
    *I performed a cursory search of google using ‘fraud’, ‘gambling debts’ and ‘Australia’ as keywords and found nearly 6000 hits including: This and this.
    Hardly an unknown problem, and one that can cause misery for the addict’s family, friends, colleagues and the wider community.
    ** see, the Fallacy of the Excluded Center is so easy even I can do it.

  19. 19
    dingojack

    Having re-read my post above I’ve failed to be clear.
    I do not support any kind of prohibition – but I think problem gambling is a serious problem for the community as a whole, also there are problems with businesses that move large amounts of cash over international (or even inter-state) borders such as money laundering and undisclosed fees.
    In my opinion the industry needs to be tightly regulated by an independent agency.
    Can this level of regulation be applied to Internet gambling websites, that could be sourced anywhere in the world? Whose jurisdiction is it? And so on.
    Dingo

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