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The Port Security Act of 2006 and Online Gambling

Aug 18, 2007
No matter what your political persuasion, liberal, conservative, Republican, or Democrat, the new laws pertaining to internet gambling are eventually going to affect the online gambling industry.

In October 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was attached to the Safe Port Act at the last minute by Representative Bill Frist(R) No one in the Senate had any knowledge of this addition until fifteen minutes before the Act was presented to the floor for debate in a late night session. There was no time for debate on this late addition to the Port Security Act and no politician in his right mind would vote against Port Security.

Most political analysts from across the spectrum agree that this act could never have been passed if it had been presented separately. While the Safe Port Act is important to the security of the United States, one wonders what this addition has to do with national security. The bill was passed almost unanimously by both the House and Senate with no time to debate this ill conceived amendment.

Under this act participation in online gambling is not banned or criminalized. Essentially this Act requires banks and other financial institution to adopt policies and procedures that blocks the flow of funds to online gambling sites. It specifically bans the use of credit cards and checks for online gambling.

While this site does not in any way advocate any illegal activity, a quick google search will show many alternatives to credit cards and checks. Most US based online gamblers consider this act a serious infringement on their privacy and personal liberty.

Opposition to this act covers the whole political spectrum. One conservative website raises some very relevant points. First, internet technology renders enforcement futile. The freedom the internet offers handicaps law enforcement and rapid innovation ensures that law enforcement will fall farther and farther behind. Second, the internet is an instant detour around domestic prohibitions. National sovereignty prevents the US from forcing other countries from enforcing bans on activities that are legal in those countries.

Most importantly consumer demand and the government demands for more revenues will create political pressure for legalization. And last but certainly not least is the premise that online gambling will bring competition to an industry that has long enjoyed the shelter of highly restrictive licensing practices. The bottom line is, Americans love to gamble and they cherish their liberties and privacy.

Recent studies show that as many as 60% of Americans have gambled and only a tiny minority regards online gambling as immoral. Americans have overwhelmingly shown they support the online gambling industry. The billions spent on online gambling prove this point.

The arguments against online gambling are weak at best. Some opponents of online gambling suggest that the internet encourages gambling addictions. Studies have clearly shown that online gambling is less addictive than drinking (a legal activity) and certainly much less addictive than smoking. Online gambling does not kill or cause cancer. A vast majority of online gamblers bet small sums for their own pleasure and from the privacy of their own homes. Americans, liberal and conservative alike overwhelmingly resent government intrusion into their private lives.

Another argument used by prohibitionists is the claim that online gambling is used to launder money and support terrorism. There has not been one connection made between online gambling and terrorism. The money laundering argument is irrelevant given the many other ways to launder money. Weak arguments indeed.

There is legislation pending in congress introduced by Barney Frank which would do away with most of the provisions in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This bill has broad bipartisan support. Hopefully congress will respect the will of the majority of the people that elected them. I urge all of you who participate in online gambling to contact you representative and senator and let them know how you feel. Regulation of private matters is a slippery slope that we should not go down.
About the Author
Anthony Wayne works in the marketing department of online bingo site BingoHouse in Costa Rica. He is also editor of the Internet Bingo Blog a great source of internet bingo information.
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