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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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  • Gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:38PM (#27762409)
    We gamble every time we buy stock, how is this any different than on a poker table. Somehow, I don't see the "fairness" in this. Personally, I think the odds are better at Black Jack than on Enron.

    And what about those sites that lets us play with "chip count" verses real money - are they going to be banned as well?
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:40PM (#27762425) Journal

    Prohibition doesn't work. Proxies make censorship such as this woefully ineffective at doing what they want it to. Free speech trumps their nanny state. Waste of money during a recession. The flaws are numerous and the sheer quantity of capital likely diverted from productive uses in order to enforce morality is offensive.

  • Re:Gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TinFoilMan (1371973) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:44PM (#27762467)
    It's all about the tax money, which ain't funny.

    I also agree that if the state allows a lottery - which is gambling - they why not make gambling sites add a penny tax for each dollar bet and submit to the state from which that person resides?
  • Re:Gambling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#27762501) Homepage

    Buying stock is tied to business success - It's "investing" rather than "gambling". Buying gas I think is a closer every-day similarity to gambling - The price could be lower tomorrow, and you would have lost out.

    The thing that bugs me, is why in the hell do we allow churches to hold bingo tournaments with cash prizes in places that ban gambling!?! It's basically Keno for old ladies (I know, I know - Keno is Keno for old ladies...) Either legalize it or don't.

    I'll stop this rant before I start in on the reservations just down the hill from here...

  • Re:Gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#27762519)

    Well see, in gambling, there are rules against cheating and bad things tend to happen to cheaters, therefore, gambling is bad.

    With the stockmarket, cheating is called creative accounting and cheaters get even bigger bonuses, therefore, the stockmarket is good.

    If you gamble, you can only gamble away your life savings, and that's bad.

    In the stockmarket, you can gamble away everyone's life savings and make a huge profit for yourself, so that's good.

    See, gambling is like socialism, and socialism bad. The stockmarket is like The Capitalist Free Market, and the Capitalist Free Market is good (and you're a dirty socialist commie pinko bastard hippie if you say otherwise).

  • The real reason. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:56PM (#27762629)

    Prohibition doesn't work. Proxies make censorship such as this woefully ineffective at doing what they want it to. Free speech trumps their nanny state. Waste of money during a recession. The flaws are numerous and the sheer quantity of capital likely diverted from productive uses in order to enforce morality is offensive.

    While I agree with your observation, cut away all the moral and ethical bullshit "justifications", and you'll come to the bottom line as to what is really driving this. It always comes down to someone feeling like they're being robbed. In this case, likely state officials feel as if they're not getting their "cut", or this is somehow cutting into other revenues.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:59PM (#27762661) Journal

    Prohibition doesn't work. Proxies make censorship such as this woefully ineffective at doing what they want it to. Free speech trumps their nanny state. Waste of money during a recession. The flaws are numerous and the sheer quantity of capital likely diverted from productive uses in order to enforce morality is offensive.

    There are very powerful Native American tribes in Minnesota--particularly around the Twin Cities. I should state that having lived there for 21 years, I never once heard of anything negative from them ... until now. I think this may have more to do with ensuring that their clientele (casino gambling is only legal on Reservations and Native American run businesses) remain faithful to their facilities. Having played a little Full Tilt poker myself, I think they may have noticed a tiny drop in profits in the past decade due to the internet.

    I have no evidence linking this but I think that everyone knows this won't stop online gambling in the state. I think this may just be effective lobbying of another interest group to protect its profits.

    To give you an idea, every adult member of the tribe (Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota) that owns Mystic Lake near the twin cities was paid out $400k [google.com] in 1994. It would be in their interests to keep the surrounding area contributing to that sum.

  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:01PM (#27762677) Homepage Journal

    I just submitted this actually...oh well, I'm just glad it made it up here even if I didn't get the credit.

    The fundamental problem is that big business likes big government because big government can regulate and legislate in favor of big business. Online gambling is "illegal". Go back and look at the sponsors and co-sponsors of the bills who made it illegal, and then look at their largest donors. Guess who? Brick and mortar casinos, and Indian tribes....imagine that.

    And when the utility companies are government-granted monopolies, then they are subservient to big government too. Utilities should be forced to compete in the free and open market without government subsidies or other forms of market insulation from bad decisions.

    This is exactly a case which highlights why the government should be small and limited at all levels; when government gets big it inevitability restricts freedom either inadvertently, or on purpose either for its own ends or at the bequest of special interests.

    The slippery slope argument here is paramount too because having a State government forcing ISPs and telcos to block specific sites sets a VERY dangerous precedent! In fact I consider this outright censorship because what's illegal about visiting a gambling website, even if one doesn't use the site to gamble.

    Not to mention that making online gambling illegal violates one's right to contract which is inherent in a free society. The Constitutionality of this is questionable at best.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:04PM (#27762711) Journal

    While I agree with your observation, cut away all the moral and ethical bullshit "justifications", and you'll come to the bottom line as to what is really driving this. It always comes down to someone feeling like they're being robbed. In this case, likely state officials feel as if they're not getting their "cut", or this is somehow cutting into other revenues.

    Precisely. Whenever the government passes a law there is always going to be something in it for whoever allowed siad bill's passing. The assumption of selfishness somewhere in any action is a useful one for determing the likely behavior of any entity which has evolved or was created by something which evolved.

  • by DnemoniX (31461) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:05PM (#27762725)

    I live in Minnesota, I do not gamble online, but this is as stupid as it gets. There are a small handful of Indian Casinos in the state. Pressure from the tribes maybe? It just can't be "for the children". Guess I need to start making a few calls and sending a few emails.

  • Re:Gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 (559740) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:10PM (#27762811)

    Buying stock is tied to business success - It's "investing" rather than "gambling".

    That's only true indirectly. You actually make or lose money based on the moves of the other "players" (investors), which we hope is based on company success but isn't always in the way we would expect. You can literally lose money in the stock market if a company you invested in made $1/share last quarter if the speculation was saying it would make $1.05/share; it doesn't even take a long or detailed look into history to see many examples of exactly that. Either way the company was successful and profitable, but if people feel they can get a bigger return elsewhere they can and often do pull their money, leaving what you're left with worth less. Possibly less than you bought it for, depending on when you got in and what happened since.

    In that sense, it really is more like poker than strict investment. In an investment, I make money if you make money. In poker, I make money if I can successfully read the other players at the table and act accordingly--even if I don't necessarily have the best hand.

  • by Deag (250823) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:15PM (#27762901)

    So where does betting exchange websites fall into this?
    Sites like betfair operate on the basis of a market every transaction or bet has a buyer and a seller.

    The odds are determined by what the market dictates.

    Interestingly some of these sites (like betfair) market themselves as betting websites while others which do the same thing are calling themselves prediction markets - see intrade.

  • Re:Gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:47PM (#27763339) Homepage Journal
    Just curious, won't this law run afoul of the WTO treaties again?

    Wasn't the US ruled against on a gambling law like this recently...?

  • by bgspence (155914) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:59PM (#27763499)

    So where do sites like the Chicago Board of Trade fit in?

    There you bet on the future price of a stock by buying put and calls, the simplest of derivatives on assets or commodities.

    And insurance, and ...

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:12PM (#27763719)

    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.

    Stock price moves may not have the same kind of "randomness" as a roll of the dice, but they're certainly not deterministic, either. If they were, we'd all be rich, except the other guy, of course. If we were to write a game based on equity trading, the "market model" used would probably be a Monte Carlo simulation.

    And what about poker and similar games? The "price" of the bet is determined the players, who are estimating their chances versus each other's predicted actions using limited information. In other words, the poker table is a market.

    I'm not arguing just to be contradictory here, but you did say: "Stocks and gambling are NOT equivalents. Not even close." and "Wayyyyyy different than gambling." and lastly ". . . it isn't random, like gambling." Randomness really means something is not perfectly predictable, but can only be predicted in a probabilistic sense.

  • by vishbar (862440) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:20PM (#27763795)
    I would also add...how is a weather derivative [wikipedia.org] any different from a bet on a prediction market?
  • by Madball (1319269) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:28PM (#27763931)

    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.

    Not all gambling is random in the same way you describe. Some, are non-random, house-favored, such as sports/horse betting. Then, there is poker... The house takes a cut of pot. While your starting hand may be random, the winner is far from random.

    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.

    Also, I would argue that all stock really represents is voting power. It is not an asset in any real way. Your share is not equal to Company Worth/Total Shares. It's worth either par value ($1) or whatever the market thinks it is worth--> which can be completely independent of the company's intrinsic value (if such a thing exists).

  • Re:Gambling (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ChinaLumberjack (1443691) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:57PM (#27765609)
    Silly Canadian, puny international laws don't apply to the mighty US.

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce

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