Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Happens in Cyberspace...


A vast armada of diverse interests are readying their ships to blockade the entrance to the Internet!

Each one of these entities has their own valid reasons for seeking the blockade. Social Conservatives want to fight sin. State and local governments are attempting to protect their tax revenue. Brick and mortar businesses are attempting to stave off competition.

And, as usual, members of Congress are looking for their next campaign contribution.

Put them all together and you might just have an unstoppable force. After all the only losers will be the public. And who the hell cares about them?

In year's past, on-line gaming companies employed the powerful lobbyist Jack Ambramoff who led a tough and well financed campaign against similar bills. But with Ambramoff in jail, many congresspersons are looking for a new sugar daddy.

And so the House of Representatives is poised to pass House Bill 4411, a bill that would make on-line gambling illegal.

It's one tough bill. It would blockade on-line gambling web sites. You would be prevented by your Internet Service Provider from accessing thousands of web sites. You would be prevented by law from using credit cards to pay on-line gambling debts. Sites only tangentially involved in gaming would likely be banned.

It's the first step toward massive regulation and censorship on the Internet. And it's the most dangerous attack mounted so far simply because the arguments are so compelling.


    "John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue, calls the Internet "the crack cocaine" of gambling."

    " "There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," he said."

But, if you actually believe the government is looking out for your well being, take a hard look at the exemptions and bill supporters.

    "Online lotteries are allowed in the latest bill, largely at the behest of states that increasingly rely on lotteries to augment tax revenues."

    "The horse racing industry also supports the bill because of the exemption it would get. Horse racing states would not be prohibited from any activity allowed under the Internet Horseracing Act. That law written in the 1970s set up rules for interstate betting on racing. It was updated a few years ago to clarify that betting on horse racing over the Internet is allowed."

Of course the traditional gambling industry are strong supporters of the bill. Las Vegas can't keep what happens in Vegas IN VEGAS, if the gamblers are actually in cyberspace.

But what happens next? Pornography is the next obvious target.

Many politicians already want to regulate or stop on-line political campaigning.

And on-line retailers certainly hurt brick and mortar businesses. Why should the gambling industry be the only one to receive FEDERAL PROTECTION of their business?

This bill is stupid, ill advised and harms the public. And it ignores the obvious tax advantages of both regulating and taxing the on- line gambling industry, estimated conservatively to exceed 12 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!!

Please let your Representative know you do not support this attack on your freedom of choice and you especially don't like this attempt to censor the Internet.

Let's break this blockade before censorship turns the United States into People's Republic of China.

*** UPDATE: 7/11/2006 6:00 pm LINK TO NEWS STORY (REUTERS): CLICK HERE ***

    "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House on Tuesday approved a Republican-written bill to crack down on Internet gambling, in what critics said was an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base."

    "The House voted 317-93 to impose a ban on most forms of Internet gambling by making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. Internet gambling generates some $12 billion annually worldwide, half from American gamblers."

    "It won support from majorities of both Republicans and Democrats."

It's an election year. I find it terribly tragic that the politicians can actually gain votes by taking away our freedoms.

What a wonderful world this would be if a member of Congress could improve his (or her) chances of re-election by voting to end the genocide in Darfur.

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