Gambling and specifically online gambling seems to be under fire in USA, Australia and Europe. Government officials make statements against online sports betting every day, commissions go after prediction markets and introduced laws prevent people from accessing online bookmakers when their websites are in foreign countries. Is it the end of online gambling as we know it?
It feels like we are not living in such a free world after all. As Fred Foldvary states at The Progress Report:
“In a completely free society, with a pure free market and true free trade, there is no restriction or tax on peaceful and honest human action.”
I strongly recommend reading his latest article that deals with the recent US ban from predictions market. According to the US law, U.S. persons are no longer able to engage in InTrade predictions trades! Note that although InTrade is located in Ireland, U.S. government prohibits U.S. persons from holding an InTrade account world-wide! I first found InTrade when discussing about predictions of 2012 presidential election. What a coincidence to read Foldvary’s words:
“In fact, the Intrade market for the U.S. presidential election of 2012 correctly predicted the win by Obama, whereas the polls were evenly split.”
I myself had also talked about the divergence between the markets and the polls! Other than that, Foldvary makes some excellent points about freedom of expression and reading, along with interventions that reduce the efficiency of the economy. “Keep adding more rocks, and eventually the ship will sink”.
But it’s not just the U.S. ship that is getting overloaded. The anti-gambling campaigner and independent senator in Australia, Nick Xenophon, said sports betting across the country should be banned. That naturally led to online bookmakers’ warning that betting ban will increase the power and potency of match fixers targeting Australian sportmen. Australian Wagering Council boss, Chris Downy, argued a ban against online betting would lead to the spread of illegal bookmakers with no obligation to inform law enforcement agencies of any irregularities. Furthermore, a betting ban would also cripple the entire gambling industry, as Punter Paradise’s chief executive said. Although his business is based on advertising, they do attract gamblers who are interested in placing bets and looking to buy (or sell) tips and access form guides and live results.
In the meantime, I am sure you have all heard that European authorities are trying to regulate online gambling in some countries. Betfair has revoked access to all Greek punters and they stopped offering their exchange service to Germany. Numerous other online bookmakers have also withdrawn from the Greek market, while regulators have made online gambling a risky business in Italy, Spain and Belgium among others. For instance, it’s been two months when Bwin.party’s co-CEO was detained by Belgium authorities. European Union’s plan for online gambling has put online gambling regulation on the UK government’s agenda as well.
What do you think? Would a fully regulated gambling industry operate more efficiently in US, Australia or Europe?