The arrest of company CEO David Carruthers while changing planes in Dallas, writes Jacob Sullum, “is part of a larger attempt by the U.S. government to impose its brand of repressive paternalism on countries with more tolerant policies.” (syndicated/Reason.com, Jul. 26)(earlier coverage, Jul. 20 here and here). More on online gambling, and bans on promoting it: Steve Chapman, “Who’s Afraid of Online Gambling?”, Chicago Tribune/Real Clear Politics, Jul. 23; Walter Williams, “Truly disgusting”, syndicated/Jewish World Review, Jul. 26.
While I oppose laws banning online gambling as ludicrous public policy in a world with government-run lotteries that return sixty cents on the dollar, I don’t see the controversy (also Hurt) over arresting someone indicted for breaking those laws when they step foot on US soil. If Osama bin Laden were foolish enough to take a commercial flight from Karachi to Caracas that changed planes in Dallas, federales could surely arrest him while he was waiting in line at the Orange Julius. Airports don’t convey some sort of diplomatic immunity.
That said, as a public policy matter, America should perhaps be less inclined to assert jurisdiction for victimless Internet crimes committed over international borders, lest we lose the ability to defend the free speech rights of American citizens to discuss issues of religion or politics barred in other countries. And in conjunction with the NatWest Three extraditions (ably discussed by Kirkendall), one fears a European perception of the US as a nationwide judicial hellhole unsuitable for business dealings, much the same way an American might view doing business in Russia. Already, international companies are choosing to raise capital in international financial markets outside the US where once they went to New York, a problem discussed by Larry Ribstein and Henry Butler in a recent AEI book on Sarbanes-Oxley.
Separately, with respect to the new federal interest in focusing scarce resources on gambling, one wonders if Rep. Jefferson is hoping that he shredded his March Madness pool entry before the FBI searched his office. And see also Mankiw v. Passey (via Taylor).
The feds arrested BetOnSports chief executive David Carruthers while he changed planes at Dallas/Fort Worth en route to Costa Rica, charging that his company accepts bets from U.S. residents in violation of federal law. One British view of the implications: “it now looks as if chief executives need ‘lawyerguards’ especially when venturing into risky legal territory such as the US.” (Times (UK) law blog, Jul. 18; Philip Robinson, Dominic Walsh and James Doran, “FBI and tax officials in BetOnSports probe”, The Times Online, Jul. 18; Jacob Sullum, Reason “Hit and Run”, Jul. 18 and Jul. 19; Radley Balko, Cato at Liberty, Jul. 18; Kirkendall, Jul. 19). More on the authorities vs. online gambling: Jun. 19; Nov. 18, 2005, Aug. 9, 2004, etc.