OK Congress; I’m Willing to Make a Deal

by Lou on April 21, 2006

In the wake of the US failure to meet the deadline set by the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in relation to Antigua & Barbuda’s gaming case, gaming companies and officials in Antigua have been monitoring the progress of US legislation that would render financial transactions with US-based clients illegal.

While there have been statements issued by Antigua’s Minister of Finance and the Economy Dr. Errol Cort and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Dr. John Ashe, few signs of distress have been noticed in Antigua’s gaming industry.

This is not surprising, according to former Antigua Director of Gaming Ron Maginley. “While the WTO issue is important, Antiguan gaming companies are more concerned with the possibility of US legislation that would make credit card transactions between offshore gaming companies and US residents illegal.

“What would be a problem,” according to Maginley, “is where they make it a federal offence because then you would have US financial institutions aiding and abetting individuals in committing a crime. In such an instance, I think we would see many US financial institutions that would just start to impose measures that truly seek to deny the companies access to US financial services. This is where the danger really comes from.”

Maginley referenced bills for prohibition legislation that have gone before Congress this year. These bills, according to Antiguan ambassador Dr. John Ashe, are “about as directly contrary to the recommendations and rulings of the DSB as could possibly be imagined. “Not only do these bills do nothing to provide Antiguan operators with any access whatsoever to the vast American gambling market, but in fact each would further entrench the anti-GATS nature of United States gambling law….”

This concern was echoed by Antiguan Finance Minister Dr. Errol Cort, who noted that the laws “would, in fact, further entrench the discriminatory nature of the United States’ approach to cross-border gambling and betting services.”

The beat goes on. When you think of the number of Americans who play poker, including many presidents, members of congress, and Supreme Court Justices, any attempt to prohibit this activity is nothing more than a nanny-state mentality on the part of certain legislators who think they know best when it comes to how we choose to spend our discretionary income, or even worse, think poker is inherently evil and that their actions would somehow protect us from ourselves.

To all the members of congress who support this legislation, I say, “Give it a rest. There’s nothing inherently evil about poker. And in any event, if you agree to drop this insane legislation, I’ll absolve you of any responsibility for protecting me, and I’ll gladly sign a waver holding myself fully accountable for the consequences of any decisions I make and any risks I might choose to take at the poker table and in the free market capitalistic economy at large.”

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