Monday, October 02, 2006

It's for our own good, I'm sure

Times Online - President George W. Bush is this week is expected to sign a bill making it harder to place bets on the internet, a move which today led to billions of pounds being wiped off the value of London-listed online gambling companies.

Mr Bush was expected to act quickly after Congress approved the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle internet bets.

Republicans added the measure to a bill aimed at enhancing port security, which passed early Saturday.

"It is extraordinary how many American families have been touched by large losses from internet gambling," Representative Jim Leach, the bill’s main sponsor in the House, said in a statement after its passage.

He also cited research which showed that young people who tend to spend hours of leisure time on the Internet, are particularly vulnerable.

A 2005 survey by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 26 percent of male college students gamble in online card games at least once a month, while nearly 10 per cent of all college students gambled online at some point last year.

"Never has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age. The casino is in effect brought to the home, office and college dorm.

"Children may play without verification, and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash, which too easily leads to bankruptcy and crime," he said.

He added: "Everyone loses if this industry continues its remarkable growth trends."

The bill’s chief Senate sponsor was Republican Jon Kyl, who has also termed internet gambling a moral threat. He has called online betting as the internet version of crack cocaine.

"Gambling can be highly addictive, especially when it’s done over an unregulated environment such as the Internet" he said earlier this year.

"If Congress had not acted, gamblers would soon be able to place bets not just from home computers, but from their cell phones while they drive home from work or their Blackberries as they wait in line at the movies."

I sure am glad the Religious Right and the US Casino industry are finally teaming up with our elected officials to look after our best interests.

I am sure the fact that offshore online gambling has been siphoning billions of dollars off the domestic gambling industry's bottom line, or that the religious right needed a symbolic moral bone thrown their way right before the mid-terms had nothing to do with it.

I've never gambled online, or even been inside a casino for that matter, but I dont really see where its any of my federal government's business if I choose to wage an offshore bet online.

Another case of Nanny Government at its finest, and another way to be a non-violent criminal in America without even leaving the comfort of your own home.