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Aussie Nambling Goes Cyberlegal ! US Citizens Go To Jail

7 March 1998

This is a tale of two cities. One city is New York, New York, USA and the other is Brisbane, Queensland Australia. Over March 4th, 5th and 6th 1998, there was a lot happening on the issue of cybergambling in both cities. They could not have been more different in outcome.

On the 4th of March in New York, the forces of law and order were unsealing complaints against a raft of Caribbean cybersportsbook operators who seem to be in deep trouble because they were "Born in the USA." The FBI arrested two executives that day and were planning more arrests as the week progressed.

On the same day in Brisbane, Australia the Deputy Premier, State Treasurer and Minister for Gaming (and leader of the Liberal party), Mrs. Joan Sheldon was making last minute changes and rehearsing a "Speech in support of the second reading of the Interactive Gaming (Player Protection) Bill of 1998. This Bill, if it passes a vote in two or so weeks, will legalize Nambling in at least one state of Australia. It is anticipated the rest will follow soon after in a coordinated national approach to deal with nambling.

In New York on the 6th of March, the FBI "expected to arrest" more US citizens for running cybergaming operations in the Caribbean. In Australia, the State Government Ministers of Gaming expected more states to pass cybergambling legislation after their March 6th meeting in Hobart, Tasmania Australia.

In Antigua,the staff of the licensed Sportsbook were in shock that their Boss had been arrested in New York for taking bets from US citizens. In Alice Springs, Australia the staff of Centrebet were busy taking bets from US citizens who had just found out that they had been cut off from their betting service in the Caribbean.

Now, I ain't no Defense Attorney but I really find it hard to see how the law can be so selective in charging one guy operating a legal licensed Sports Book in one country (taking bets off US citizens) just because he was born in the USA and holds a US passport, while another legal licensed Sports Book in another country (taking bets off US citizens) can look to the protection of the law of the land from where he operates because he is a citizen of that country.

Both are taking bets in foreign lands "over the wire" from US citizens. One has been charged with a crime and one has not. One faces 5 years in jail and the other faces an increase in betting turnover. Life has many strange twists and turns my friends.

Could it be that Antigua and Curacao ain't got no Military Forces in the Gulf as part of the anti Saddam alliance right now while Australia has? Now Uncle Sam wouldn't want the Aussies to have to withdraw those forces so they can defend the Australian Ministers of Gaming from overzealous FBI agents, would they now? It is after all a hostile act to arrest citizens of another country who are going about their legitimate affairs with the full protection of that country's law, is it not?

There is no doubt that the legal aspects of cybergambling are real difficult to deal with. But why such vastly different approaches? What can the USA do against a tide of governments around the world who are legalizing cybergambling. This is no longer a tiny "tax haven" or "tin pot dictatorship" issue. Whoever is driving this issue in Justice had better have a hard look at what is happening around the world. America's allies are legalizing cybergambling, First world, developed, democratic nations run under the rule of law and the separation of powers are moving forward into the 21st century and the US is using laws from the Elliot Ness era to hound people because they are US citizens, even though they are legal operators in the country where they operate.

It's getting verrry tricky out here in cyberspace.

To our friends in FBI custody, I dedicate this short except from Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA:

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.

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