Federal authorities arrested the CEO of BetOnSports, a prominent internet gambling company, and they’re planning to press charges against several other current and former company officers.
When this came across the Google reader, I thought I should share because in the latest dead-tree edition of Carolina Review, I wrote an article about internet gambling. Specifically, I talked about how none of our Federal laws that Congress keeps passing against gambling are enforceable because of the overseas webservers that host the gambling websites. This arrest, however, marks a shift from the observations I made in my article about Congress’ willingness to legislate but unwillingness to enforce:
The fact that these operations are legal in their home jurisdictions “does not entitle them to do business in the United States,” said Catherine L. Hanaway, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, which brought the indictment. The charges announced yesterday indicate that “their efforts to avoid U.S. law enforcement will be challenged and brought to justice whenever possible.”
The NYtimes article brings everything full circle by talking about the global profitability and popularity of internet gambling, and how the United States is “not in line” with the rest of the world. Those pesky things called principles keep getting in our way, it seems.
What I think will happen? On issues of morality like this, the U.S. is far more likely to regulate than outright ban (Prohibition taught us enough about that). With internet poker being a billion-dollar-per-year industry, I doubt the Federal government is going to start a blitzkrieg campaign to put an end to it entirely. They just want some measure of control (and to dip their hand in the pie of course). The NYtimes thinks this marks the beginning of more arrests and more seizures of online gambling companies, but I’m not buying it. Temporarily, maybe so. But long term, poker in particular is too popular and too big. You’ll see public outcry if something like PartyPoker.net (also has off-shore servers) gets taken down.
So instead, some kind of compromise is going to be reached before all is said and done, and you’ll see internet gambling popularized in the United States. But that’s just my two cents.