Online Gambling

We Won't Tell You What It Is; Just Don't Do It

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Yesterday the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would require federal regulators to define "unlawful Internet gambling" before demanding that financial institutions block transactions related to it. The Payments System Protection Act, sponsored by committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), would delay the imposition of regulations required by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. That law left the legal status of various kinds of online gambling ambiguous, and when payment processors asked the Treasury Department for guidance, they were told that had to figure out what was legal on their own. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in November, professional poker player Annie Duke summed up the situation this way:

The posture of the federal government is, "We are going to create a new federal crime, but we will not tell you what it is." In the proposed rule, the regulators explain their refusal to resolve this by saying that to do so would require them to examine the laws of the federal government and all 50 states with respect to every gaming modality, and that this would be unduly burdensome. Yet that is exactly what they are requiring the general counsel of every bank in the country to do.

Frank, who is also sponsoring a bill that would explicitly legalize (and regulate) online gambling, closes out my June reason article about the online gambling crackdown with a ringing defense of the freedom to engage in "recreational activities" that "human beings enjoy" (a category in which he also includes pot smoking). 

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  1. Hey Barney – Keeping all of the money I earn is a recreational activity that this human being enjoys, you fucker!

    Other than that, good work on this particular one.

  2. Yeah, Barney Frank is a tax and spender. But he is far better than most when it comes to consenting adults engaging in activities that aren’t harmful to others.

    Just giving credit where it is due.

  3. How can the government make something illegal without defining what that something is?

    Isn’t there a constitutional issue when laws are too vague? Don’t laws get struck down for that?

  4. Yet that is exactly what they are requiring the general counsel of every bank in the country to do

    More and more, the government is outsourcing its insane law enforcement costs. I have a co-worker who used to work in a little branch bank and his stories of what they had to do out of fear of failing to catch something suspicious were appalling.

    When you think of the money the federal government spends on regulation and law enforcement, and then you realize that they are now pushing out even more of those costs into the private sector, you get a glimpse of the monster that hovers out there.

  5. Isn’t there a constitutional issue when laws are too vague? Don’t laws get struck down for that?

    Yeah, it’s called Void for Vagueness, IIRC. And IIRC, it is primarily a Due Process issue.

  6. You know, if Barney Frank would just crack open a 9th-grade level economics textbook, he’d be the cat’s meow.

  7. As I speak, the local University’s student government is slapping around the local town council in court over a vague ordinance regarding keeping the peace.

    “Loudness shall be a breach of the peace.”

    -What is the definition of loud?

    “Whatever the cops say it is.”

    —————-

    It is glorious to watch.

  8. You know, if Barney Frank would just crack open a 9th-grade level economics textbook, he’d be the cat’s meow.

    You know, if all economic knowledge and training inexorably led to the conclusion that one has to be a Libertarian, then every economist would be a Libertarian.

    But they aren’t.

    Strange how that is.

  9. lmnop,

    However, if Frank applied the same logic he does to gambling to economics and cracked open that 0th-grade level textbook, then what?

    Thats right.

    LD didnt say that would work for everyone, just for Barney Frank. Read my first post in this thread, I agree with LD. There is no reason for Frank to be hypocritical, yet he is.

    BTW, I dont believe in the 2 axis theory. Economics are social issues. Social issues are economics. They are one and the same.

  10. Ah, but every true economist is a libertarian!

    …Just fuckin with ya. I kid.

    BTW, this bill will go nowhere because a) the Congress doesn’t care if its laws are fair or clear and b) gambling IZ TEH SUCK, so you MUZ BE PUNIZED.

  11. Ele,

    Libertarians are so void of the Robin-Hood complex, it’s often hard for us to model the dissonance necessary for someone to intuitively grasp the inherent value of social freedom, but fail so utterly in connecting it with economic freedom. It’s something we need to work on.

  12. Yeah, I would explain a lot if many libertarians are stopping their studies of economics at the 9th grade.

    Externalities and market failures are apparently not covered until 10th grade…

  13. I think you should be focusing on libertarian chess. Far superior to the old authoritarian chess with its freedom-destroying rigid rules, libertarian chess allows each player to move the pieces any way he wants to, even onto the edge of the board (to avoid capture). The old commie chess masters with their legalistic socialist mindsets wouldn’t have done so well at libertarian chess. Free markets, free manids, free moves!

  14. It’s something we need to work on.

    I work on it by calling them names like scum-sucking hypocritical fuckers. I went easy on Barney this time.

    BTW, in the original Robin Hood stories he stole from the rich and kept the money for himself. Ive always liked that version better.

  15. You know, if Barney Frank would just crack open a 9th-grade level economics textbook, he’d be the cat’s meow.

    You know, if all economic knowledge and training inexorably led to the conclusion that one has to be a Libertarian, then every economist would be a Libertarian.

    But they aren’t.

    All the intelligent ones are. 😉

  16. Adam Bee,

    Coasean bargaining. (Most) of your problems solved. Since he won a Nobel, Im thinking its probably after 10th grade, yet very few people seem to know about it.

  17. gambling that competes against the casinos that donate to my campaigns and isn’t run by the state IZ TEH SUCK, so you MUZ BE PUNIZED.

  18. I think you should be focusing on libertarian chess…

    And the first rule we need to learn is keeping worthless pieces off the board. To that end, I suggest we kick worthless piece of shit Lefiti of off H&R.

  19. No, BP. Sacrifice him.

  20. No, BP. Sacrifice him.

    You know, I’ve always wondered just how radically chess strategy would change if the rules allowed you to capture your own pieces the same way you capture enemy pieces.

    I’d be willing to bet pretty radically, as the entire early game would change.

  21. They teach economics in U.S. public high school somehwere? The first economics textbook I ever saw was in college.

  22. Elemenope, that would be very bad for pawn morale.

  23. I’ve figured it out. Lefiti’s real name is Patrick Tribett.

    This explains a lot, really.

  24. Elemenope, that would be very bad for pawn morale.

    No shit!

  25. Finger man, Home Ec is an economics class, right? Actually, I did take a Consumer Economics class in high school that covered the law of supply and demand and a few other microE issues.

  26. They teach economics in U.S. public high school somehwere? The first economics textbook I ever saw was in college.

    They taught it in my public high school. They also taught Latin.

    It’s not as rare as you might think.

  27. Sweet Baby Jesus!!! Everyone must go to SugarFree’s link!

  28. They teach economics in U.S. public high school somehwere? The first economics textbook I ever saw was in college.

    I had one semester of it in HS during my senior year.

    I actually loved it and thought about being an economist. Then I thought “And how will I make money doing that???” So I became a software engineer.

  29. Barney Frank is really pro-free trade, at least.

  30. I also had micro and macro-economics. The Law of Diminishing Returns really cleared up a lot of the confusion I had about high school.

  31. Sweet Baby Jesus!!! Everyone must go to SugarFree’s link!

    According to a Bellaire Police Department report, Tribett’s pupils were constricted and he replied slowly to their questions. Oh, and “officers observed the paint on face and hands,” as can be seen in the below mug shot.

    Now I think people should be allowed to huff as much paint as they want, but dude — learn to order cans of paint on the internet or pay some one to go to the store for you if you need a fix that bad.

    You’ve got to be a stupid motherfucker to walk into a hardware store looking like that.

  32. Now that’s what I call a gold bug….

  33. They teach economics in U.S. public high school somehwere? The first economics textbook I ever saw was in college.

    I took economics in high school. After the first week, I only showed up for the tests and never opened the book. I received a C.

    So to answer your question, not in my high school.

  34. You’ve got to be a stupid motherfucker to walk into a hardware store looking like that.

    Huffing paint sort of makes you into a stupid motherfucker, so it makes sense.

  35. for those of you wishing to contact Barney Frank directly, you can usually find him in the men’s room in the third stall. just tap your foot…

  36. I think you should be focusing on libertarian chess. Far superior to the old authoritarian chess with its freedom-destroying rigid rules, libertarian chess allows each player to move the pieces any way he wants to, even onto the edge of the board (to avoid capture).

    Actually, they already have this. Hexagonal-grid wargames accomplish this. So do computer battle simulations. Or computer strategy games like Civ.

    And yes, these games can be said to be “better” than Chess in the sense that while a computer can be built that will beat a human at Chess, we still can’t build computers to reliably beat humans at more unstructured wargames. The more unstructured games are just too complex for anything as limited as a machine intelligence – but Chess is right up the machine’s alley.

  37. Very interesting article. Great job!

  38. You know, I’ve always wondered just how radically chess strategy would change if the rules allowed you to capture your own pieces the same way you capture enemy pieces.

    Even better: after capturing any piece, you can convert it to your side and put it back on the board after, say, five moves.

  39. This is great! Thank you for the great article! I know this is outdated, but this is exactly how I feel about the federal government. I am very much in agreement. Thanks.

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