Monday, February 27, 2006

More on Gambling and Ethics

I've followed the ongoing saga of JJprodigy and ZeeJustin with a combination of incredulity and dismay.

There's no doubt what these guys did was wrong, and I'm pretty surprised Party and Stars took so long to get their act together.

I'm even more dismayed at the laissez faire approach being taken by Stars to the reports of soft play at the big NLH games.

No doubt in the short term this is all bad for the image of the game, and will be seized upon by opportunistic politicians and special interest groups as evidence as to why online gambling must be banned.

However, I'd like to offer an alternative viewpoint.

As Bill Rini mentions in his summation of the ZeeJustin/JJprodigy cheating, these guys are actually getting off lightly, since if they were caught cheating in a B&M casino they could be looking at jail rather than what is effectively a substantial on-the-spot fine levied at the discretion of the affected poker rooms.

Were the poker rooms to be legitimate, and accountable to national laws, it would be perfectly feasible for Party or Stars to hand over the evidence of wrong doing and expect to see these guys put before a court.

Furthermore, acts of collusion online would easily fall within most nations definition of conspiracy to defraud, which I'd imagine would give most online cheaters reason to think twice before logging into MSN or picking up their mobile phone.

As I argued previously in my Ethics and Economics of Gambling post, the US government would be better served by legitimising, rather than demonising, online gambling.

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