Friday, July 21, 2006

She would bet on it

In today's column, Polly Toynbee writes:

Cowardice often hides behind "globalisation" as an excuse for inertia. Often it is the Americans who puncture the convenient myth of the helpless nation-state. Here's the latest example: the US senate is about to outlaw online gambling by preventing credit cards and banks paying out to gaming sites...  The US shows you can just ban the banks from paying any money to online gambling sites at home or abroad, so this lethal explosion can be stopped.

Actually, it is not clear that the US senate is about to outlaw online gambling.  As this article in the Washington Post shows, there is disagreement  among Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's aides about whether this will happen before their August recess.  And, of course, it actually needs to, er, pass the vote.

And it does not show that "you can just ban the banks from paying any money to online gambling sites at home or abroad".  There are rules governing trade (that pesky "globalisation" stuff).  Appeals have already been lodged with the WTO (source), and the US does not have a 100% record with the WTO over gambling legislation (source).  It is also possible that this episode will show  that you can't just ban banks from paying out to online gambling sites at home or abroad.

And, of course, it is still too early to say what the effect of the legislation will be (if it does get passed, and it survives challenges by the WTO, that is).  It may, or may not, stop this "lethal explosion".

For someone who condemns gambling, she's taking a heck of a punt.

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