August 29, 2012Once again, despite the GOP's alleged commitment to freedom and liberty and all those nice sounding words, we are reminded that these freedoms rarely extend beyond those which gain the approval of social conservatives. From the just completed 2012 Republican Platform:
Making the Internet Family-Friendly
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting. (P 32)
This is especially cute given the number of words the platform dedicates to "Internet freedom" which in this case does not include the right to play a card game with...
December 13, 2011File under Hypocrisy 101.
Sheldon Adelson, the CEO and Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns some of the largest casinos in the world including the Venetian in Las Vegas, is "morally opposed" to online gambling. Adelson is the 8th wealthiest man in America, and the 16th wealthiest man in the world. His wealth is only relevant because he got wealthy through the casino business and is now engaged in what is likely blatant protectionism under the guise of moral opposition to an incredibly slight variation of an industry he's been involved with for the majority of his adult life:
Last week, Adelson went to Asia to lobby for legalization of casinos in Japan and...
August 30, 2011Online poker enthusiasts are betting the house (or insert other painful pun here) on the possibility that Internet poker legislation will be added to the congressional super committee as a means of coming up with revenue that will help to achieve the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction the committee is required to come up with by November 23. Internet poker legislation is, in this case, a subset of Internet gambling which would include games like blackjack, roulette, online slot machines, etc.
The evidence for passage via super committee is mostly circumstantial, but there is quite a bit of it:
1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) recently co-wrote a letter to the Department of
Justice asking them to "...
June 13, 2011Roughly one week ago, an article appeared in The Odenton Patch covering an Anne Arundel County Police Department press conference where our benevolent ruling class is seen gleefully celebrating their "reward" in assisting a federal investigation which seized over $30 million dollars in internet gambling funds. They even ordered a giant Tiger Woods sized check for a photo-op. Note that though the operation was named "Operation Texas Hold'em," it is unrelated to the recent crackdown on online poker sites such as Full Tilt and Poker Stars.
The gist of the story is that the police force set up their own online payment processor and processed payments for internet gambling sites as if they were a real legitimate...
May 19, 2011He writes:
But it’s insane to legalize an activity on the grounds that some tiny fraction of the people doing it are very successful at it. After all, the vast majority of poker players never go pro, and the vast majority of poker pros never become champions. Overall, the number of people who lose money playing poker is much larger than the number of people who make money at it.
It's equally insane to outlaw an activity on the grounds that some tiny fraction of the people doing it are very unsuccessful at it. I realize he was responding to Steve Levitt, but the argument for the legalization of online gambling has very little to do with the fact that a subset of poker players are "professionals" who are able to make money consistently...
May 16, 2011Steve Levitt, author of the well known pop-economics book Freakonomics, has a recent post explaining his opposition to the crackdown on Internet gambling. The whole post is worth reading, but here is a shortened summary of his arguments:
1) Prohibitions that focus on punishing suppliers are largely ineffective. Prohibition of internet poker is no exception.
2) Relative to the consumer surplus generated by online poker, the externalities caused are small. Government interventions should focus on cases where the opposite is true
3) From a moral perspective, it is inconsistent for the government to condone and profit from gambling on the one...
April 15, 2011Today the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York released criminal charges against a number of online poker websites operating in the United States as well as charges against a number of companies involved with processing payments to and from these sites. A DoJ release describing the lawsuit can be found here.
As a result, the largest sites offering poker in the United States have immediately suspended players from the United States from participating. There are millions of dollars that belong to United States citizens tied up in these sites that have also become immediately unavailable. It is unclear if/when any of this money will be able to be recovered.
A law was passed in 2006 which made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments that would be sent towards...
April 6, 2011In what should be a satirical piece from The Onion, Reuters has an exclusive interview with former Michigan Governor Granholm who boldly proclaims that green-jobs are driving the "economic recovery" in Michigan:
Former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, whose second term ended in January, said in an interview that Michigan businesses are expected to create more than 150,000 clean energy jobs in the next decade from $14 billion of projects in the pipeline.
Of all places, Michigan doesn't exactly stand out as the shining example of economic success in the United States. With a state unemployment rate of 11 percent and...
March 22, 2011President Obama was in Brazil over the weekend:
“The United States doesn’t simply recognize Brazil’s rise; we support it enthusiastically,” Obama said in Brasilia, the capital, after meeting with President Dilma Rousseff as he began a five-day trip that also will take him to Chile and El Salvador.
This is true. The taxpayer is still sending Brazilian cotton farmers millions of dollars per year because the WTO ruled in favor of Brazil when they sued the United States over our farm subsidy program. Rather than try to support Brazil by ending this (which is, admittedly, likely impossible for President Obama at this time), meaningless speeches will be given and some silly inter-bureaucratic program...
March 21, 2011File this under "Adventures on the Laffer curve." The New Hampshire House is seeking to lower its cigarette tax from $1.78 per pack to $1.68. Almost every other state has increased cigarette taxes over the past few decades. In New York, an individual pays an extra $4.35 per pack (minimum, not including any local taxes) of cigarettes, about $.20 per cigarette.
Some legislators believe it will bring increased revenues, through increased cigarette sales and other economic activity near the border, among other things. The opponents do not believe this:
But state Rep. Christine Hamm, a Hopkinton Democrat, called the move "fiscally stupid."
"No state has cut their tobacco tax and seen a...