Thursday, August 03, 2006

Evil Criminals

America arrested another evil criminal the other day. (BBC story, CNN story, Yahoo news

And, of course, other bloggers have had a lot to say about it.

The indictment

I was reading about the history of SWAT teams the other day. The first SWAT was formed in California as a tool to use to put down labor protests. It grew around the country as a tool to use to control student protests against the war. It's grown into a tool for government seizure of citizen assets by force.

That's the way America reacts to citizens who 1. don't like the way things are done or 2. Don't have the power to fight back. And it's been going on a long time. What you're seeing now is the result of your having been happy with a country that imprisons a bigger pecentage of it's residents than anybody else in the world. The arrest of an operator of a foriegn website is just part of the process. It's not new.

When I hear people complain about the feds arresting gamblers by saying they should "go after real criminals" I want to puke. It's because we allow the government to define criminals in very arbitrary ways -- drug users, people who defend themselves when their home is invaded, women who don't follow an approved health regime while pregnant, people who have too many cats, etc -- that they aren't going after "real" real criminals. We've accepted the nonsense that a "real criminal" includes just about everybody.

The position of the US government is that a bet transaction did occur on US soil, at the site of an american customer and the crime the Brit committed was facilitation of that illegal bet.

I read the indictment of the owner of betonsports. It's at the Justice Department website.

One thing I noticed in the indictment though, that I think calls for a cool head about rushing to cash out of online sites.

BetonSports took bets over phone lines.

There have been two wire act convictions of interent gambling operators in the last few years. One in Texas and one in New York. Both convictions were appealed.

In Texas the conviction was overturned because the deposit transaction and the bet transaction were seperate transactions and the bet transaction took place out side the US.

In the NY conviction it was upheld because they took a phone bet form NY. That was a clear violation of the wire act.

Don't do business with anybody that takes phone bets and I think you're okay for now.

This stuff isn't new.

One US appeals court (the 5th circuit in New Orleans) has ruled that the bet did not occur in the US, that a deposit was made and that transaction was in the US, but the bet was a seperate transaction. Another US appeals court (the 1st) heard another case and was able to rule on that one without addressing the issue of where the bet occured.

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