The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

28 August 2008

Newspaper

Unless you are just back from a 2 year vacation to the moon, you will know there is an ongoing online gambling dispute. The United States Government is behind it. Back in September 2006, money motivated US congressmen devised a scheme to take over online gambling. Tax it in the US, collect revenue and rid the world of dishonesty.

True to form, President Bush signed the UIGEA. The bill was signed for the people, it was passed against the general opinion of the people, and it was without the voting structure of a democratic society. To put it bluntly, it was done by a dictatorship.

People have different views on gambling. Often, it’s a hobby for armchair experts. I enjoy a flutter on boxing, and when I place a bet, it’s as though I am landing and taking every punch, without the physical pain. I gamble for fun. Winning is a bonus. Use your common sense. Always bet what you can afford to lose, and gambling will never be a problem.

The Good – PPA (Poker Players Alliance)

The PPA was set up to fight in the name of public interest.

“The PPA’s mission is to establish favorable laws that provide poker players with a secure, safe and regulated place to play. Through education and awareness the PPA will keep this game of skill, one of America’s oldest recreational activities, free from egregious government intervention and misguided laws.”

The Bad – UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act)

The UIGEA was introduced to fight in the name of public interest. The problem was, the bill was signed and sealed, against the general opinion of the public. It was a non democratic bill. It was a direct violation of the WTO (World Trade Organization). In my view, the aim of the UIGEA was to damage a flourishing online industry long enough for the US Government to step in, control, tax and steal ownership of online gambling , under the noses of the rest of the world.

“The UIGEA prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to an Internet gambling site, with the notable exceptions of fantasy sports, online lotteries, and horse/harness racing.”

“Antigua and the United States have been involved in a long-running World Trade Organization dispute over U.S. restrictions on online gambling.”

“The WTO ruled on January 25, 2007 that the U.S. is in violation of its treaty obligations by not granting full market access to online gambling companies based in the island nation.”

“On March 30, 2007 the WTO confirmed the U.S. loss in the case.”

Source : Safe Port Act – Wikipedia

Politics is a dirty business. Nothing should be viewed on face value. The US Government is motivated by one thing, money. Public interest is secondary. They are pursuing a new, lucrative, stream of taxable income. They want to weaken the opposition long enough to establish themselves as world leaders within the online gambling industry. Only then they will show their true colors.

The Ugly - The Political Aftermath

As things stand, the whole UIGEA thing has become a political battle. The PPA has no option other than fight fire with fire.

Recently the PPA urged US gambling fans to express their viewpoints to the Republican Party Platform Committee. The Platform Committee hosts a website, where suggestions are taken into account, when they construct their manifestos.

Many experienced and knowledgeable online gamblers stepped up to the plate regarding their opposition to a two sentence item on the platform expressing the GOP’s anti online gambling stance.

This week, the offending sentences appeared to be omitted from the updated draft. John Pappas, executive director of the PPA, stated:

“This is a small victory in our determined effort to educate both sides of the aisle that there is a true constituency in America that values its Internet freedoms,”

The co-chairman of the 112 member platform committee, Senator Richard Burr, from North Carolina claimed that the positive move was primarily to strengthen communication and appeal between the committee and their voting public. Burr was more reluctant to consider the move a victory. He indicated there may be a backlash from conservative right wing party members, who have requested the anti online gambling clause to be re-instituted.

Unfortunately Senator Burr’s prediction proved true and the clause was reinstated in a slightly modified form. It now reads:

“Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support legislation prohibiting gambling over the Internet or in student athletics by student athletes who are participating in competitive sports.”

We can argue motives, we can argue morals, we can argue freedom of choice, but it will be marked down as a victory for the opposition to online gambling. Sponsor of the amendment, Kendal Unrah of Colorado, who re-inserted the clause, stated:

“Internet gambling represents the most invasive and addictive form of gambling in our history.”

The only consistent thing about politics is the inconsistency. The US government has meddled with a rule that the World Trade Organization deemed a direct violation. The US Government lost that battle but carried on regardless, ignoring public opinion and international trading laws.

We can argue the rights and wrongs of online gambling but in the end, it appears the US government is intent on restricting the freedom of the people they were elected to protect. Their minority have ignored international rulings set up to protect society, to suit their own personal needs. They are losing the respect of the people.

The Republicans are preparing for their National Convention which starts next week. This will reduce the platform to approximately 50%. They will then get together on Wednesday to construct the final document for the convention, to adopt at the very first opportunity, the first day of deliberations.

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