Lines Keep Moving in Fight Over Online Gambling

Critics liken government stance to Prohibition
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2008 2:19 PM CST
In this photo illustration, a detail of online gambling website 'Party Poker' is featured.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Can 20th-century laws designed to stop old-school bookies put the kibosh on the multi-billion online gambling industry? Anti-gambling crusaders say they can, and they’re doing their best to prove it. Federal prosecutors have used the 1961 Wire Act to shut down several huge operations, the Washington Post reports—but critics say all the government is doing is driving companies, and their tax revenue, overseas.

“The Volstead Act didn’t stop people from drinking, and this opposition won’t stop people from gambling online,” said one analyst. Prosecutors and judges, meanwhile, are playing an interpretation game with old laws. Even the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act never defines “Unlawful Internet Gambling.” One of its authors is a major horse-racing backer. “It’s total hypocrisy,” says Democrat Barney Frank, who is pushing a legalization bill.