US Gambling Agreement With WTO Being Challenged In Utah

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Many Americans believe that the US government has been less than truthful on many occasions when dealing with residents of their country. These people now have allies in Utah where lawmakers are concerned about negotiations that took place between the US and the WTO.

Lawmakers in Utah are openly supporting House Joint Resolution 1. These lawmakers are worried that with gambling growing rapidly around the world, that a deal with the WTO could lead to states not having a say in whether gambling is legal within their jurisdiction.

House Joint Resolution 1 ensures that gambling laws be left for individual states to make their own decisions. The other part of the Resolution is where the lawmakers are not trusting of George Bush and his administration.

The second part of the Resolution has to deal with the idea that details of an agreement that was made with the WTO are being withheld. The agreement stems from the US violating WTO regulations involving trade.

Antigua and Barbuda successfully brought a case against the US with the WTO because they claimed the US destroyed their online gambling business. Companies that were licensed in Antigua and Barbuda were stopped from doing business in the US, and because of that, Antigua and Barbuda were hurt financially.

Out of that case came negotiations with the WTO where the US has had to make some concessions for what they have done. The details of those negotiations have been withheld for “national security” reasons.

“This is potentially a very big deal. We were stunned that they classified it as national security and got away with it,” said Peter Riggs, the Director of the Forum on Democracy and Trade.

The concerns of the Utah lawmakers come as talks will begin in 2009 with the WTO. The lawmakers believe individual states should have their say before those talks take place. They are concerned that those talks will lead to legalized online gambling throughout the world, a distinct possibility, according to one observer.

“When the WTO talks resume, there is no doubt that Internet gambling will be one of the main issues. With most countries steadily moving towards legalizing online gambling, an agreement could be reached on the issue involving all the countries of the WTO,” said Jack Trimplet.

UNLV Does Studies and Provides Assistance for Problem Gamblers

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UNLV is one of ten universities in the United States that has on campus help for problem gamblers. The Las Vegas Strip is a short 10 minutes from the campus and poses a unique situation for students, as many venture to the strip for excitement, concerts, nights out and yes, gambling.

A study done by a psychology PhD student Edward Crossman found that approximately 10 percent of UNLV undergraduates who participated scored at pathological levels in his gambling related personality test. Numbers, which he said, are higher than national averages. “For some reason it’s a lot higher here,” he said.

In August of last year, Counselor Education Secretary Larry Ashley started a program to treat problem gambling. The campus-based program is state funded and is open to all area residents, not just students.

Ashley said he is “surprised by the fact that not a single student has come to him for treatment. It’s amazing how many people there are who we don’t know have gambling issues, but younger folks like that edge – they like the rush.”

“That rush,” Ashley said, “has been largely glamorized by the explosion of things such as… televised poker matches.” Things like the televised poker events, Ashley said, “(make) such behavior exciting and more appealing to younger people.” Ashley went on to say, “this can be dangerous, especially when considering how the brains of young people differ from that of their older counterparts.”

Ashley reaches out to local high schools, adding addiction prevention as part of the health curriculum in their classes.

“In all the addictive disorders the developmental factors are critical. Adolescence goes into the mid 20’s for males and the early 20’s for females. The traditional college student is still in that phase. During that time, any of those addictive behaviors can usually impair you faster and more severely,” said Ashley.

Laney College journalism professor and author Burt Dragin, told stories of drinking winning and mostly losing in various casinos. “Gambling was really an emotional thing for me,” Dragin said. “It can be this reward, its really telling you something positive about yourself. But then when it starts going the other way it can be very painful.”

“The emotional investment,” said Ashley, “is something that is common among many compulsive gamblers. We find that most people with problem gambling are escape gamblers; video poker is kind of the ideal thing. It is your own machine; it does not give you any backtalk. You can get hypnotized by it.”

If you are in the Las Vegas area and want more information on the Problem Gambling Treatment Program or the compulsive gambling minor, contact Larry Ashley at 702-895-3935.

 

Unlawful Internet Gambling Act Regulations Released by US Treasury

US Treasury Released UIGEA Regulations The Department of the Treasury has today released the regulations required by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The regulations appear to be as weak and confused as the UIGEA.

The regulations require all banking systems to stop unlawful Internet gambling transactions, but state clearly that it is very difficult to figure out what is deemed unlawful as the UIGEA does not make anything illegal that was not already illegal under federal and/or state law.

The new regs point out the complications of implementing a list of what is and isn’t illegal Internet gambling…

“Any government agency compiling and providing public access to such a list {of unlawful gambling sites} would need to ensure that the particular business was, in fact, engaged in activities deemed to be unlawful Internet gambling under the Act. This would require significant investigation and legal analysis. Such analysis could be complicated by the fact that the legality of a particular Internet gambling transaction might change depending on the location of the gambler at the time the transaction was initiated, and the location where the bet or wager was received. In addition, a business that engages in unlawful Internet gambling might also engage in lawful activities that are not prohibited by the Act.”

The fact that the regs point out that certain transactions would be legal in some states, but not in others could be interpreted as the government believing that casino games such as poker, slots, bingo, and blackjack, are actually not illegal under federal law and only illegal in states where laws explicitly say they are illegal. The only betting activity deemed illegal under federal law would be on sports, made illegal by the 1969 Wire Act.

This begs the question, can operators such as Party Poker, and/or 888 Holdings, based legally out of the UK, re-enter the US market while only disallowing bets and wagers from citizens in states where online gambling is expressed as illegal?

Currently, Microgaming powered casinos such as All Jackpots, and The Gaming Club, allow gamblers from all states in the US where Internet gambling is not deemed specifically illegal. Could Playtech branded casinos such as the infamous Golden Palace re-enter the US market now too?

Some analysts also believe it would be difficult to determine what is illegal and not because of the exceptions in the UIGEA for the Horse-Racing industry and state run lotteries.

The beginning of the regs also take some of the fear off the actual gamblers in the United States who were nervous about receiving or sending money to any offshore gambling site.

The regs state that the only people who could be held accountable for breaking any of these regulations (thus breaking the laws created by the UIGEA), or implementing these regulations, would be participants, defined as anyone who is “an operator of a designated payment system, or a financial transaction provider that is a member of, has contracted for services with, or is otherwise participating in, a designated payment system. The proposed regulatory definition clarifies that an end-user customer of a financial transaction provider is not included in the definition of ‘participant’, unless the customer is also a financial transaction provider otherwise participating in the designated payment system on its own behalf.”

The costs of implementing a list by the US government to deem certain transactions as unlawful Internet gambling transactions for the banks to use as a guideline were deemed by the Treasury to be ‘significant’.

“This is because establishing a list would require considerable fact-finding and legal analysis once the U.S. Government identifies a gambling website. The Government must engage in an extensive legal analysis to determine whether the gambling website is used, at least in part, to place, receive or otherwise knowingly transmit unlawful bets or wagers. This legal analysis would entail interpreting the various Federal and State gambling laws, which could be complicated by the fact that the legality of a particular Internet gambling transaction might change depending on the location of the gambler at the time the transaction was initiated and the location where the bet or wager was received,” the regs state.

Just in record keeping alone, the Treasury estimates that it would take 368,254 hours of work to implement these regulations.

The UIGEA, which has been debated as the worst law in United States history, may have been proven to be so with the long awaited release of the regulations for the Act.

The regulations are 52 pages long and can be read in their entirety here.

Stay tuned to Casino Gambling Web for more analysis of the new UIGEA regulations.