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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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  • is it even legal? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tritonman (998572)
    Is it even legal to use gambling sites in states where it's illegal to gamble???
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's the scoop:

      - The Federal Wire Act [wikipedia.org] was originally intended to prohibit betting on sports via [telephone] wires.

      - The more-recent Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act [wikipedia.org] (UIGEA), which was secretly attached to the 'must-pass' Safe Port Act, made it illegal for banking institutions to allow outgoing financial transactions if the bank believes the funds are intended for online gambling purposes. Each bank must determine what is legal and what is not, with no guidance from the federal government.

      - The

  • 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?
    • Thank GOD you brought this point up so I don't have to. I thought NOBODY was going to pick up on the stock-market == gambling bit. Gawd.

      01)Fund an account.
      02)Buy some stocks.
      03)Print out your transactions.
      04)Put it on a wooden table.
      05)Bend over.
      06)Take a picture.
      07)Scan the picture.
      08)Send it in.
      09)Sell.
      10)Profit!

      People! People! People! Have we learned NOTHING over the years?

      =Smidge=

    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnick (1211984)

      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

      • 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.

        • This is true mostly for day traders, who are indeed gamblers; and the naive folks who think that the stock market is a great way to get rich quick. However, long-term investments are investments, and not gambles. This irregularities that you mention are typically not even blips on the radar over a 10 or 20 year timespan. Over that time the value /may/ decline - but if you do your research and pick stable companies with long-term plans for the future, it's very unlikely.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          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.

          I think you're giving the stock market too much credit. It's not investment at all, at least by the traditional definition. When you buy common stock, if that company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (restructuring), your stock becomes worthle

        • by u38cg (607297)
          The modern focus on share price really irritates me. A share in a company simply entitles you to a potentially infinite stream of payments; all the share price does is reflect the likelihood of that actually happening at any given moment. There's neither a reason nor a given why that share price should increase over time.
      • by mysidia (191772)

        Bingo's more than a game of chance, it's a game of skill as well. You have to be fast enough to find and marked the called numbers before more numbers get called. And be the first to say BINGO.

        Many states that ban gambling still allow things like competitions, races, challenges, etc, with a prize offered to the winner.

    • 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).

    • by tacokill (531275) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:01PM (#27762681)
      Ok, I was going to let your post slide because I know where you are coming from but...just to be clear...

      Stocks and gambling are NOT equivalents. Not even close. When you buy a stock, you own a piece of a company. 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.

      Additionally, the price of stocks is determined "by the market". In other words, all the buyers and sellers of stock determine the prices as they go along based on the value that they subjectively assign to each stock. That's the market we are speaking of and that's why the prices move. For every sell, there is a buy. And for every buy, there is a sell. The price is arrived at by this process and this process alone. In other words - it is not random.

      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.


      Ok, I have to go take the stick out of my ass now....carry on. Thx.
      • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:12PM (#27762853)

        Since you seem to want to share your views on this, I'd like to ask you: How do you classify "prediction market" sites like Intrade.com, where you bet on real-world events. It doesn't represent ownership rights in a corporation (though it does represent ownership right to $10 conditional on a future event), but it is coupled to a real-world non-gambling event?

        And how does US law treat prediction markets?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vishbar (862440)
          I would also add...how is a weather derivative [wikipedia.org] any different from a bet on a prediction market?
        • by tacokill (531275)
          I have no idea how US law treats "prediction markets". I have never ever heard of such a concept addressed by law.

          What you describe is basically a derivatives markets. Common stock equity is what my original post was about. That's way different than any derivative. You misunderstand what "backs" each financial instrument.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deag (250823)

        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.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bullshit!

        If there is ANY RISK involved, it's gambling.

        Doesn't matter if you have equivalent assets available or not.

        Stop trying to paint the modern market and consumer products as some holier than thou enterprise just because the legal system happens to be behind it.

        If you HAVEN'T figured out by now that ALL of this is a gamble, you should have your head checked.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Additionally, the price of stocks is determined "by the market". In other words, all the buyers and sellers of stock determine the prices as they go along based on the value that they subjectively assign to each stock. That's the market we are speaking of and that's why the prices move. For every sell, there is a buy. And for every buy, there is a sell. The price is arrived at by this process and this process alone. In other words - it is not random.

        You only have control of when you buy or sell. You are betting on the actions of other people. You are betting that other people will buy or sell when you want them to. You are betting that a company will have positive earnings report.

        Horse races are determined by the speed of the horse, the skill of the jockey, and the conditions of the track. Those things aren't really random either.

        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.

        And the odds are stacked in favor of the CEO and board of directors who have more knowledge of what the company is doing. If

      • 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 tacokill (531275)
          What do you mean, where do they fit in?

          The CBOT is just that - a board of trade. IOW, a market.
          They trade all kinds of things there. Derivatives of equity, commodities, debt insurance, and a whole host of other things I am sure.

          I don't understand your question. They fit in just like the NYSE or Nasdaq or any of the other markets around the world (DAX, Nikkei, etc). I have re-read your post a few times and I just don't get what you are insinuating. Spell it out for me.
          • by bgspence (155914)

            I was responding to a comment on how stocks represented a share in a company. And, markets those shares was not gambling.

            Puts, calls, insurance, etc. are pure bets on the probability of future events, very, very much like gambling. I have much more control of how my bets in a poker hand will play out than I do with a put or call, unless I'm a big enough hedge fund to tip the market.

      • 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 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).

        • Then, there is poker... The house takes a cut of pot.

          Hmm... sounds a lot like brokers charging transaction fees. Whether you win or lose in the market, they get paid.

        • by tacokill (531275)
          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.

          You'd be wrong. It is an asset. And you do own, like a bike, equal percentage to the Company worth/total shares. That's *exactly* what the word "share" means. As in, "your share of the company". Lucky for you, you can go to a market (NYSE) and, most likely, someone will buy those shares from you for a price. The price he/she offers will fl
      • by Threni (635302)

        Gambling isn't pure luck. Even games where you can't influence the outcome, like Roulette, can offer an advantage if you know what you're doing. And the best Poker players aren't the luckiest ones, but the ones who've spent ages memorizing odds, reading body language and practising.

        The stock market, however, is sometimes described as being essentially random. Insider dealing helps - why else do you think the price of a share suddenly increases/decrease shortly before an event of some kind.

        This book is gre

      • by putaro (235078)

        Gambling games can be defined as being "zero-sum" along with the random chance part. Zero-sum means that the amount of money that comes out is the same as the amount of money that goes in.

        Stocks are supposed to be non-zero-sum, preferable a positive-sum game in that more money can come out than was put it (this is why it's called investment).

        However, this positive-sum aspect requires either dividends to be paid or stock buybacks or some other mechanism that transfers money from the company coffers back to

      • by PAjamian (679137)

        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.

        That's only true for some forms of gambling. The most widespread form of online gambling that I'm aware of is poker in which the house does not "compete" with the players, rather the house takes a fixed percentage from each pot and the players compete against each other. The house is simply charging a fixed fee to offset the expenses involved in hosting the gambling event plus a bit of profit (since they are, after all, a for profit business). How different is this to a brokerage firm charging a fee to b

    • Roll of dice does not produce anything (except for the house). But Enron could have.
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        People can and do win at gambling. Over the long-term though, the house wins.

        Same with the stock market. And in this case, the "house" being the CEO's who pump up their company values and then jump out with a massive golden parachute before it deflates.
        • by lgw (121541)

          CEOs don't really get paid any better than sports stars. They aren't the villian of the piece. CEOs get away with what the borad of directors let them get away with. The board is supposed to represent the stockholders, but when the chairman of the board and the CEO are the same person, well, whjy would you ever want to invest in such a sham?

          Most common stock comes with voting rights. If you own such stock, you control the means of production, and companies have had substantial shake ups at just the thre

          • by smaddox (928261)

            Why the hell do you think sports stars get paid so much? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with shmadvertising.

            • by lgw (121541)

              Just on salary alone, CEO compensation and pro sports compensation is similar: the benefit from hiring the best is large enough that high pay is justified. The difference is that people *see* what sports stars do.

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      No, buying stocks is NOT like gambling unless you do absolutely no research before buying stocks. Yes, there is risk in the market - that part is on par with gambling. But when it comes to stocks, given the plethora of information out there, you should be making decisions based upon research and on how you think that a company is going to do based on X, Y, or Z (e.g. Apple will be releasing a new iSomething this month - let's buy stock because I think that will make it more valuable).

      Of course, if your id

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Card counting != real time stock analysis. Yup.

        Being able to read the other players != knowing what a company is going to do. Totally.

        Gambling != playing the stock market. Really. Absolutely different. See, there's this moral high ground that says it's different!

      • by Deag (250823)

        Casino gambling is one matter, but sports betting is a different beast again.

        How is buying a stock based on belief of increase in value different to looking at the odds on a sporting event and placing a bet on the basis that you think the odds are wrong?

        Some exchanges let you sell bets and even a bookie will allow you to bet against. The odds on sporting events rarely stay the same.

    • I personally have zero problem with gambling being legal, so don't take this as an argument against it.

      But there is another key difference between casino gambling and stocks, besides the ones others have mentioned: averaged over time, gambling loses you money and stocks earn you money. Gambling always has a house advantage; wouldn't exist if it didn't. Stocks, on the other hand, have a positive ROI when averaged over several years. Pick any stock index you like - it's nearly impossible to find a 10-yea

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        In most cases where the company stays afloat, you would possibly be right. But if the company goes under, the for sure your stock is going to be worth squat. Since 1980, Nortel stock has been worth $10 +. However in the past 2 years, it has gone down from $20 to 32 cents. I guess that's 1 counter example for you.
      • by Madball (1319269)

        But there is another key difference between casino gambling and stocks

        As mentioned by several, there is more to gambling than traditional casino gambling (e.g. craps, roulette, slots). The proposed ISP blocks would have an effect on all types.

        averaged over time, gambling loses you money and stocks earn you money.

        How much time? How many stocks? If you are talking particular stocks, than you can definitely lose money over even long time periods (how is your Worldcom stock doing?).

        Pick any stock index you like - it's nearly impossible to find a 10-year span where it has lost money

        Hm. I dug up a really obscure index you may never of heard of, the S&P 500: http://www.google.com/finance?q=INDEXSP:.INX [google.com]

      • I just checked Google Finance and it appears that as of market closing (4/29) all three major indexes (Dow, S&P500, Nasdaq) are all in the negatives. Dow being the least negative with -23% since 1999 and the S&P the worst with -36% over the same period. Generally I would agree with you about stocks being positive over the long term, but the market's been a real bitch lately. If you expand the scope to 20 years, your theory is definitely correct(averaging around +200%!!)

    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      We gamble every time we buy stock, how is this any different than on a poker table.

      Here's the primary difference: not every single game is stacked against you. You have a range of safety / potential yield ratios from bonds, mutual funds, blue chip stocks, all the way down to high-risk startups and penny stocks. By managing investments intelligently, you can insulate yourself against catastrophic loss of all principle.

  • 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.

    • 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 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.

      • In this case, likely state officials feel as if they're not getting their "cut", or this is somehow cutting into other revenues.

        If all those Minnesotans playing online are as bad at poker as the Minnesotans I've played against, I have not doubt that the state is losing tax revenue, from the out-of-state 'donations' their online gamblers are making with the money they'd normally have spent locally on alcohol, firearms, toques, etc. In fact, they (or any state, even) could indirectly increase their sales/etc tax revenue by teaching their resident online gamblers how to play a better game of poker, and by limiting them to playing only

    • by eldavojohn (898314) *

      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 th

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        In that case (and I'm sure you're right about just who the lobbying forces are here) the state should require that ISPs block access to *in-state* gambling facilities as well.

        Methinks if they get hit in the profits the same as everyone else, the Indian casinos would see the light real quick.

    • by jekewa (751500)
      Additionally, since on-line gambling is illegal anyway, it will just serve as a gateway to grey-hat or black-hat ways around any kind of IP blocking, such as TOR [torproject.org] or one of the many others.

      I say, quit telling people what they can or cannot do to themselves, and let the gamblers gamble. If you, Minnesota, want to do something about on-line gambling, figure out a way to squeeze taxes in there and make it a revenue stream and not a cost-center.

  • by javacowboy (222023) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:40PM (#27762439)

    If Minnesota already has some form of state-run gambling, then I understand (but don't codone) their motivations for attempting to ban online gambling. However, if gambling is totally illegal in the state, then I have no idea why they would want to ban the practise. What would they stand to gain?

    Does the state even have the authority to do this? Internet access is presumably under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the FCC.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#27762521) Journal
      There are casinos in Minnesota only on Native American Reservations or run by Native American Tribes. Look up Mystic Lake Casino, Jackpot Junction, etc. See here [500nations.com].

      Does the state even have the authority to do this?

      Once upon a time, when power was distributed more to the state (you know, how the founders wanted it) I'm sure it would have been possible. Not so certain now ...

      • by Burkin (1534829)
        Since internet gambling usually involves either intra-state or intra-country commerce, the states never had the power to regulate that.
      • by Vellmont (569020)


        Once upon a time, when power was distributed more to the state (you know, how the founders wanted it)

        The founders fought like dogs amongst themselves over state/federal control, so there's no single "the founders" here.

        Anyway, as far as the state having the legal authority to do this, I highly doubt it. States have long tried to bar things they don't like from entering the state. It used to be pornography, now it's gambling. If Utah can't stop Hustler from going through the mail system, I doubt Minnesota

      • by Etrias (1121031)
        What's interesting is that there has been a push by some people and the governor for a "racino", a place for placing race bets and video lottery, IIRC. Perhaps this is some weird way to try and get some groundswell for gambling to finally push it through the reluctant legislature.
      • There are casinos in Minnesota only on Native American Reservations or run by Native American Tribes. Look up Mystic Lake Casino, Jackpot Junction, etc.

        I live right near Mistake Lake, err, Mystic Lake! The casinos are about the only place you can smoke inside in Minnesota.

        Stupid smoking ban..
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Gambling is legal on the various Native American Reservations, though I've never been to any of the casinos. Minnesota gets some revenue from them, but not as much as they would like.
      When the casinos started doing well and during one of the earlier state budget shortfalls, Minnesota tried to get a larger cut of the gambling revenues, but the Indians pretty much told the state to go jump in the lake.

      • Actually, the State of Minnesota receives no direct income from the Indian casinos. Each individual Indian tribe is it's own sovereign nation, reservation land is owned and controlled by that sovereign nation, and those nations do not pay any form of taxes to the State of Minnesota. They are still represented by members in the State House, however, and the nations do contribute and lobby for bills that benefit them.

        The American Revolution started because of, among other things, "Taxation without Repre
    • by Cazekiel (1417893)

      Yes: http://www.lottery.state.mn.us/ [state.mn.us]

      I already commented on this, but state-run lottery would gladly hand out cement shoes to those who get in their way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      Bam! [state.mn.us]

      So gambling is OK as long as it fills their coffers and at odds that would get any casino run out of town in Vegas. I wouldn't be surprised if the odds were more in your favor at a rigged poker game than at the Minnesota state lottery. Any argument against out-of-state gambling they could make would be hypocritical at best since Joe Sixpack could just as easily blow his paycheck on lotto tickets as he could on Online poker.

      Now Utah [gambling-law-us.com] is pretty cut-and-dried on the subject and I would not criticize the

    • by qoncept (599709)
      Some people have horrible gambling habits. They get in to trouble. You could argue that the addiction is a disease like any other and that they are attempting to help control it. On one level you have people getting in debt and in big trouble with bookies (we'll call it the "movie scenario") and in others you have people getting in debt and in big trouble with banks and friends they owe money to, hurting not only themselves but their families to need that money to live (we'll call this one the "real life sc
    • Isn't it the other way around? If Minnesota wants to ban gambling on moral grounds they might have the right to do so but if they're only protecting casinos from competition they are interfering with interstate commerce.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yes they do, that's why they state the 1961 Wire Act:

      "The Wire Act was intended to assist the states, territories and possessions of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, in enforcing their respective laws on gambling and bookmaking and to suppress organized gambling activities.[58] Subsection (a) of the Wire Act, a criminal provision, provides: Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in intersta
  • by PoolOfThought (1492445) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:45PM (#27762479)
    According to the act cited in the original post:

    "In analyzing the first element, the legislative history[60] of the Wire Act seems to support the position that casual bettors would fall outside of the prosecutorial reach of the statute. During the House of Representatives debate on the bill, Congressman Emanuel Celler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee stated "[t]his bill only gets after the bookmaker, the gambler who makes it his business to take bets or to lay off bets. . . It does not go after the causal gambler who bets $2 on a race. That type of transaction is not within the purvue of the statute."[61] In Baborian, the federal district court concluded that Congress did not intend to include social bettors within the umbrella of the statute, even those bettors that bet large sums of money and show a certain degree of sophistication.[62] "

    IANAL, but I would say from that statute that it is not illegal to gamble or to use gambling cites to gamble. It's illegal to be a bookie (sp?) or facilitate organized gambling as a business. The sites themselves my be illegal, but the users seem to be okay?

    No?
    • That's good for the end gambler, but what about the ISP? They are sort of in a gray zone between the two. Obviously they aren't making direct benefit from the gambling, but I'm sure someone could make an argument that they are acting as a facilitator (whether that argument would actually hold up, I doubt it).
      • If the phone companies cannot be charged as as facilitator in regardes to prostitution and may other crimes initiated and or conducted over the phone the neither can the ISP. Mind you if the ISP can be charged then so can the phone company as well as whoever owns the lines and rights of way. Which means the govenment itself could be charged.
    • by urulokion (597607)
      You don't need to look at anything but the wording applicable section of the statute.

      (d) When any common carrier, subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission, is notified in writing by a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency, acting within its jurisdiction, that any facility furnished by it is being used or will be used for the purpose of transmitting or receiving gambling information in interstate or foreign commerce in violation of Federal,

    • Read it more closely:

      The second exemption "was created for the discrete purpose of permitting the transmission of information relating to betting on particular sports where such betting was legal in both the state from which the information was sent and the state in which it was received."[69]

      So betting is illegal in states where it is illegal. Using the internet to place a bet does not circumvent the law; it's still illegal. Betting is only legal via the internet in states that say betting is legal
      • You make a good point, but I don't think what you added changes anything about what I said. Betting where it is illegal is illegal. But the act presented by the state doesn't go after small time casual betting folk.

        The fact is that the act itself should not be applicable to what Minnesota is trying to do. The act does not care about casual gambling. The act is only interested in those that are "the bookmaker, the gambler who makes it his business to take bets or to lay off bets." It might be illegal per
  • Time for a voter revolt in Minnesota. Throw all of these clowns who want to run every aspect of your lives out and start over.
    • by Duradin (1261418)

      And then wait a few years while they contest the election results in court.

      Thank you Norm Coleman, we really didn't want two senators for our state anyways...

  • People that say games like online poker are the same as gambling simply don't understand online poker. Over the long run (hundreds of thousands of hands), variance will no longer be a factor and the better players will win. It's similar to the stockmarket, and definitely a better investment then a lottery ticket. Look at communities like twoplustwo.com where thousands of players talk strategy and learn about the game, it's not gambling.
    • It doesn't matter. At the individual transaction level, you are still making a wager on a probabilistic event. Hence it is gambling.

      Whether it is a game of skill or chance (or both, to varying degrees), it is gambling.

      It's like gambling on the horses... a good judge of horseflesh who does his research well CAN win in the long run, just as with poker. That does not make the wagers he places something other than gambling.

      What you're getting at is not about whether or not it is gambling... the long-stand
    • It's gambling. For the skilled player, it's just gambling with a +EV, unlike the slots or table games, which have a -EV.

  • Come on... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cwiegmann24 (1476667) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#27762513)
    5 to 1 odds they have to back down within a week.
  • I work in a convenience store--one of many clerk jobs I've had, and lemmee tell ya, the state does whatever it can to make sure people don't infringe on their territory. They outlawed slot machines in bars, clubs, etc. years ago.

    The interesting part is that people have found a way around it. We HAVE a machine in our store, but it's a "Skill Game". Instead of it being a chancy slot-game, you win on every spin by tapping a wild option on the screen, making three fruits/whatever else in a row. Most of the time

  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:52PM (#27762563)

    They want their hair brained scheme back

  • Geez (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, gambling is stupid, and maybe some people need a Nanny to protect them.

    But couldn't we get busy addressing our country's *real* problems?

  • What an embarrassment to MN. I hope who ever is leading this charge is ultimately fired and kicked out of the state.

  • by JO_DIE_THE_STAR_F*** (1163877) <jody29&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:59PM (#27762659)
    The world has changed.
    This law is irrelevant to the current reality.
    You can censor the hell out of your citizens (like China) or you can allow them to participate in a free and open internet, not both. Unless every country on this planet agrees to this outdated law, enforcement will be almost impossible.
    The only thing they will do is turn their citizens into criminals.
    Minnesota your only choice is to either disconnect from the internet or accept that you can not control it.
    Of course to truly disconnect you would have to ban all forms of communication except for snail mail and the pony express. No phones, satellite dishes, cable, etc...


    "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." - Morpheus
  • 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.

  • Newest link to be blocked... Google's Feelin Lucky button!! Lobbyists believe this poses too much risk and could become habit forming and addictive.
  • 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.

  • Each of those elected members should take a fist full of $50 bills and go th their local highschool that has blocked sites. Then give $50 to each student who can access one of those blocked sites. They of course will be broke in no time and just may notice the futility of their ideas.
  • States rights is an 18th century anachronism. This is especially true in the 21st century internet age. How can Minnesota possibly enforce this? The boundary line between Minnesota and Wisconsin means nothing in 2009.
  • How pointless (Score:3, Informative)

    by insomniac8400 (590226) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @04:06PM (#27763595)
    Proxies exist. If you start forcing ISPs to block stuff, all you will do is create a standard market for proxy services. Then you lose the ability for law enforcement to track down crimes as the most popular proxies will be ones outside the US that keep no log information.
  • OK, so let's assume we have a 100% honest online casino. How does someone go about verifying that? How about a 100% dishonest online casino that pays out to shills and family members only. How would someone find out about that as well?

    Do you like the idea of casino operating in the US? If so, they are subject to all sorts of regulation and oversight. Nothing like a completely unregulated online casino. The casino in the US pays lots of taxes, which the online casino does not. Sounds like the brick-an

  • by Nethead (1563)

    Well there goes Norm Colman's "Donate" button on his website!

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