Minnesota Moves to Ban Online Gambling

Published July 1, 2009

In an effort to ban Internet gambling, the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety announced in late April it was ordering 11 Internet service providers to block computers from gaining access to online gambling Web sites abroad.

Ban ‘Technically Impossible’

Champaign, Illinois-based technology security expert John Bambenek says going after ISPs makes little sense since they don’t directly promote gambling sites.

“Besides, what they want to do is technically impossible,” Bambenek said. “They can impose rules on ISPs to block these sites, but there are a myriad of ways around them.

“While online gambling tends to be a less-than-honest business because most online gambling sites make it hard to win, it makes no sense to impose these kinds of costs [on ISPs] for such a minimal public harm,” Bambenek added.

Enforcement Problems

Ryan Radia, a senior scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, agrees, saying proper enforcement of illegal Internet gambling would target the Web sites themselves, not the ISPs.

Radia sees this as an attempt by Minnesota to protect its own gambling interests—namely the state lottery. He believes adults should be able to gamble on the state lottery or any other games of their choice.

“So long as fraud isn’t occurring, what people choose to do with their money is their business,” Radia said.

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.