Americans, Online Casinos, and “Casablanca”
There is a scene in the classic movie “Casablanca” where the Captain of police, Renaud, in the city shuts down Rick’s Place for purposes oddly suiting the plot, saying, facetiously, “I’m shocked, shocked to discover gambling is going on here.” Well, those might not be the exact words but I’m pretty close. Right after he says those words, Rick Blaine’s maitre d’ comes up and hands the Captain a wad of bills, and says “Here are your winnings, sir.” It’s a pretty humorous moment in the history of cinema, but it is remarkably applicable to the situation of online casino gambling and the U.S. government.
Americans make up probably the biggest percentage of online casino gamblers on the planet Earth, and yet the U.S. government, by way of the Justice Department, views online casino operations as illegal. The reasons for this are well-known: there are issues of regulation, accountability, consumer protections, taxes, and so on and so forth. But even as the U.S. government looks down upon online gambling, it is often the case that casino winnings at from gambling sites won by American citizens get pumped back into the U.S. economy in the form of purchases, interest on bank accounts holding the money, winnings invested in the stock market, and a whole lot more.
The irony of it all is that the U.S. government could stand to make millions – billions, even – of dollars if it legalized online gambling. The government could tax winnings, could tax the companies, could audit online casino jackpot winners, and generally make out pretty well if it wasn’t so hard headed. The U.S. government is out of tune with the hobbies of American citizens. Even if one day the government cracked down hard on Americans who choose to wager money at an online casino, it would be remarkably similar to Captain Renaud. It would be like biting the hand that feeds you – and could feed you a lot more than you realize.