My Fox Column…

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

…this week takes another look at the Internet gambling ban, in light of the recent news about the U.S. settlement with Europe, Japan, and Canada, as well as the WTO’s recent ruling granting Antigua $21 million in reparations against the U.S.

Saddest email response so far:

Most civilized people who live in a common set of geographical boundaries agree to live by a common set of rules, regulations, and laws. Governments tax, outlaw, and restrict bad behavior and encourage, reward, and promote other good behavior. Simple; It isn’t about freedom to do wrong things it‘s about being free to do the right things.

Emphasis on the exceptionally stupid part, mine.

Now seems like a good time to bring up that old quote from Agitator hero H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. “

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8 Responses to “My Fox Column…”

  1. #1 |  severin | 

    Glad to see you are blogging on New Years day! It seems like you are in the minority today.

    That person’s theory might work with something like murder or theft, but so many of the so called “bad behaviors” the government restricts are very subjective. What may be bad behavior to one person and perfectly acceptable to another.

  2. #2 |  somebody | 

    Lol, “being free to do the right things.” Sounds like a line from Soviet propaganda. Of course, it’s the government that decides what’s “right” and what’s not. We’re the Founders really the last smart people on Earth?

  3. #3 |  Economist | 

    Your fox column is a decent summary of recent issues. Whilst there is nothing particularly new I think your article is well constructed and puts across the pro-gaming case very clearly. I hope you don’t mind but I have linked to your article here.

  4. #4 |  Persona non grata | 

    “We only see the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.” ~Bentio Giuliani

    What a maroon.

  5. #5 |  Alex | 

    One thing that gets lost in this debate is how much more affordable internet poker is. The .25/.50 limit games online are equivalent in skill to 5/10 games in a casino. The rake is also less than half for lower limit games online. In other words, a casual, horrible player can play all he/she wants for a negligible amount of money online, and that’s really where the vast majority of online play is.

  6. #6 |  Nando | 

    Why is prostitution illegal? Because it’s too hard for the government to keep track of the money and they don’t trust the citizens to report how much they earn so that the government can tax it accordingly. The same goes for gambling (and drugs).

    Don’t let yourselves be fooled into believing that gambling is illegal for moralistic reasons. For the most part, elected government officials only care about two things: money and getting re-elected (in that order).

    Places like Mass. are making online gambling illegal because they want you to come to their brick and mortar casinos and leave your money there, where they can tax it. If the federal government approves online gambling, it would be unconstitutional for any state to ban online gambling (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution).

  7. #7 |  Nick T | 

    .. and Freedom of Religion is about being free to believe in the Judao-Christian God, I’m sure.

    That’s not necessarily true. The Federal government would not pass a law saying “Internet Gambling is legal now!” They would just remove any bans on it, and then you are in dormant Commerce Clause territory (that being the idea that even where the federal government has no law specifically regulating a commercial enterprise, states still can not make their own regulations). States do seem to be able to regulate gambling in casinos on their own as it is now, so that might lend itself to allowing states to regulate internet gamlbing as well. I personally think states would be allowed to ban internet gambling, though I’m not an expert on the Commerce Clause.

    Also, as for your first argument, the government seems to accept the idea that many industries will have under-reported income (like where tips are involved), and they set up some minimum standards and take what they get. Plus drugs and prostitution do play well with voters which serves their second goal, according to you. So I think moralism (at least as it lends itself to getting reelected) has something to do with it.

  8. #8 |  Nando | 


    States can sponsor their own casinos but they cannot ban internet gambling. How would they enforce it? And, if just one company takes root in a US state, they can no longer ban it if they have a lottery because it would be against the Constitution to do so.

    As for using morals to get elected, yes, they do that. Getting elected/re-elected serves the first thing they care about: money.