The New Prohibition

My grandfather was a law enforcement officer during Prohibition. I still have photos of him and his deputies destroying bottles and barrels of bootleg whisky. At home, however, prohibition was not enforced. My grandfather made his own home brewed beer and thought nothing of it. Despite the laws most forms of alcohol were still readily available to anyone who wanted a drink. Today the United States faces the very same situation with internet gambling. In spite of the new prohibition the US is still the world’s largest online gambling market and Americans spend billions every year at internet gambling sites. Obviously the United States learned little from the disaster that was Prohibition. Prohibition created more problems that the law was intended to solve. Criminality and violence associated with the alcohol industry was rampant. Once prohibition was repealed by President Roosevelt in 1933 the violence and criminals disappeared overnight as if by magic.

In 2006 prohibition once again reared its ugly head in the US. A few anti gambling extremists in congress tacked a nasty piece of legislation on to a port security bill at the last minute. Given the political situation in the US following the terrorist attacks of September 11th voting against the bill would have been political suicide. Most lawmakers in both houses were unaware of gambling law’s existence. A later poll showed that the bill would not have passed as a standalone piece of legislation. Online gamblers in the United States were forced to play at less than reputable gambling sites. There have been a few cases of online casinos refusing to pay American players who have no legal recourse.

Even online bingo players have been affected by the ban. Funding gaming accounts has become a real problem for American players. After the Neteller debacle several online payment processors withdrew from the US gaming market leaving players without reliable deposit and withdrawal methods. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Several states are exploring the possibility of offering residents legal internet gambling. The games would only be available to residents within states where internet gambling is legal. Many in the internet gambling industry believe that if enough states legalize internet gambling the federal government will eventually re legalize internet gaming. The recent crackdown on internet poker has sent shock waves through the industry. History clearly shows that prohibition has never worked and ultimately creates more problems than it solves.