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Minnesota Latest To Try To Block Gambling Sites 138

Posted by timothy
from the this-is-an-issue-of-liberty dept.
BcNexus writes "A story is developing that the state of Minnesota is contacting ISPs with a request to block about 200 gambling sites online. Minnesota is claiming authority to do so under a 1961 federal law, apparently the Federal Wire Wager Act. There are a couple interesting aspects to watch as this unfolds. Will the ISPs cooperate or will they argue about applicability to casino games, as other have? Will Minnesotans lose their money or access to their money in escrow accounts like the state is warning will happen?"
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Minnesota Latest To Try To Block Gambling Sites

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  • by javacowboy (222023) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:40PM (#27762439)

    If Minnesota already has some form of state-run gambling, then I understand (but don't codone) their motivations for attempting to ban online gambling. However, if gambling is totally illegal in the state, then I have no idea why they would want to ban the practise. What would they stand to gain?

    Does the state even have the authority to do this? Internet access is presumably under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the FCC.

  • by PoolOfThought (1492445) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:45PM (#27762479)
    According to the act cited in the original post:

    "In analyzing the first element, the legislative history[60] of the Wire Act seems to support the position that casual bettors would fall outside of the prosecutorial reach of the statute. During the House of Representatives debate on the bill, Congressman Emanuel Celler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee stated "[t]his bill only gets after the bookmaker, the gambler who makes it his business to take bets or to lay off bets. . . It does not go after the causal gambler who bets $2 on a race. That type of transaction is not within the purvue of the statute."[61] In Baborian, the federal district court concluded that Congress did not intend to include social bettors within the umbrella of the statute, even those bettors that bet large sums of money and show a certain degree of sophistication.[62] "

    IANAL, but I would say from that statute that it is not illegal to gamble or to use gambling cites to gamble. It's illegal to be a bookie (sp?) or facilitate organized gambling as a business. The sites themselves my be illegal, but the users seem to be okay?

    No?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#27762521) Journal
    There are casinos in Minnesota only on Native American Reservations or run by Native American Tribes. Look up Mystic Lake Casino, Jackpot Junction, etc. See here [500nations.com].

    Does the state even have the authority to do this?

    Once upon a time, when power was distributed more to the state (you know, how the founders wanted it) I'm sure it would have been possible. Not so certain now ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:50PM (#27762535)

    Gambling is legal on the various Native American Reservations, though I've never been to any of the casinos. Minnesota gets some revenue from them, but not as much as they would like.
    When the casinos started doing well and during one of the earlier state budget shortfalls, Minnesota tried to get a larger cut of the gambling revenues, but the Indians pretty much told the state to go jump in the lake.

  • by tacokill (531275) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:01PM (#27762681)
    Ok, I was going to let your post slide because I know where you are coming from but...just to be clear...

    Stocks and gambling are NOT equivalents. Not even close. When you buy a stock, you own a piece of a company. As in, you own it just like you own a bike or a computer or any other asset in your house. You have (some) legal rights and some "claim" on future earnings. That's what stock, aka common equity, represents.

    Additionally, the price of stocks is determined "by the market". In other words, all the buyers and sellers of stock determine the prices as they go along based on the value that they subjectively assign to each stock. That's the market we are speaking of and that's why the prices move. For every sell, there is a buy. And for every buy, there is a sell. The price is arrived at by this process and this process alone. In other words - it is not random.

    Wayyyyyy different than gambling. Gambling is random and even worse, the end results (risk/reward profiles) are heavily skewed toward your competitor (the house). Stock price moves are determined by the market. Just a bunch of buyers and sellers agreeing on the price - but it isn't random, like gambling.


    Ok, I have to go take the stick out of my ass now....carry on. Thx.
  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:12PM (#27762853)

    Since you seem to want to share your views on this, I'd like to ask you: How do you classify "prediction market" sites like Intrade.com, where you bet on real-world events. It doesn't represent ownership rights in a corporation (though it does represent ownership right to $10 conditional on a future event), but it is coupled to a real-world non-gambling event?

    And how does US law treat prediction markets?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:57PM (#27763473)

    Additionally, the price of stocks is determined "by the market". In other words, all the buyers and sellers of stock determine the prices as they go along based on the value that they subjectively assign to each stock. That's the market we are speaking of and that's why the prices move. For every sell, there is a buy. And for every buy, there is a sell. The price is arrived at by this process and this process alone. In other words - it is not random.

    You only have control of when you buy or sell. You are betting on the actions of other people. You are betting that other people will buy or sell when you want them to. You are betting that a company will have positive earnings report.

    Horse races are determined by the speed of the horse, the skill of the jockey, and the conditions of the track. Those things aren't really random either.

    Wayyyyyy different than gambling. Gambling is random and even worse, the end results (risk/reward profiles) are heavily skewed toward your competitor (the house). Stock price moves are determined by the market. Just a bunch of buyers and sellers agreeing on the price - but it isn't random, like gambling.

    And the odds are stacked in favor of the CEO and board of directors who have more knowledge of what the company is doing. If they act on this knowledge while buying or selling stock, it's insider trading, but lots of execs are careful and get away with it anyway.

  • How pointless (Score:3, Informative)

    by insomniac8400 (590226) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:06PM (#27763595)
    Proxies exist. If you start forcing ISPs to block stuff, all you will do is create a standard market for proxy services. Then you lose the ability for law enforcement to track down crimes as the most popular proxies will be ones outside the US that keep no log information.
  • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:18PM (#27763773)
    Yes they do, that's why they state the 1961 Wire Act:

    "The Wire Act was intended to assist the states, territories and possessions of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, in enforcing their respective laws on gambling and bookmaking and to suppress organized gambling activities.[58] Subsection (a) of the Wire Act, a criminal provision, provides: Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.[59]"

    However, the Wire Act mentions nothing about shutting down wire services or having wire services stopping certain transmissions based on their destination.

    In fact, all the Wire Act says is it is illegal to use a wire service to place a bet, where each state (sender state/receiver state) say it is illegal.

    It is PERFECTLY LEGAL for the wire service to place the transmission.

    Meaning Minnesota is going after the middleman and the Wire Act says nothing about that.

    Minnesota you lose. AT&T should have no problem telling Minnesota to take a hike.

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