Libertarian-leaning TV host John Stossel had an interesting segment called “Want to Bet” on his show last Thursday.
The Stossel Show, which airs on the Fox Business Network (and is re-aired on Fox News), brought on Naomi Brockwell of Bitcoin Center NYC to talk about how Bitcoin has revolutionized online gambling — and made an activity that is illegal in most of the United States accessible to American gamblers.
Here are a few of the highlights:
On the Proliferation of Gambling Sites
“The gambler can actually communicate and make payments directly to the casino,” Brockwell said. “There’s very little the government can do to stop these transactions.”
Stossel asked whether the government had jurisdiction or even the means to shut down Bitcoin gambling sites hosted overseas.
Brockwell said diplomatic pressure was one option, but the market is simply too large.
“I think 50 to 60% of all Bitcoin transactions are actually made within these gambling sites,” she said.
Furthermore, she added that the transparency behind the cryptocoin economy — and sites like Provably Fair
— plus the inability to charge back money with Bitcoin actually protects the gambler.
On Circumventing Financial Institutions
Stossel drew the comparison between gaming sites and the Wikileaks financial embargo.
“Essentially, what the government did is it put pressure on these intermediaries, these financial institutions like PayPal, AMEX, Visa, and stopped people being able to donate to WikiLeaks,” Brockwell said. “It was only through Bitcoin that people were able to continue these donations to the site. I think they raised $2.5 million through Bitcoin and Litecoin.
“Really, you see Bitcoin as not just a tool for freedom of speech but for allowing people to spend their money where they want to so the government can no longer dictate where they can and can’t put their money.”
On Comments from the Nevada Gaming Board
A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, took some flak for saying “Unless it’s expressly allowed, it simply can’t happen” about Bitcoin gaming, particularly in Las Vegas.
Brockwell challenged Burnett’s jurisprudential understanding:
“Basically, he’s decided that this thing is illegal, and when he was asked, ‘OK, where in the law does it say that using Bitcoin to gamble is illegal?’ and he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t. And we don’t want to write it into the law. We don’t want to consider. But it’s illegal.’
“What this basically means is the government can come up with anything they want, and ban anything and make anything illegal, and they don’t have to tell the people about this.
“I was under the impression that things were legal until the government outright bans it, but apparently somewhere along the line according to this Nevada person things were completely flipped, which is a little bit scary for the state of society at the moment.”