Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl Thoughts

I'm waiting for that story that comes out every year at the Super Bowl. You know the story I'm talking about - the story of how the local law enforcement officials in the city where the game takes place have a sting that nets dozens of ill-doers [Bush speak].

Law enforcement officials traditionally send out announcements to people with outstanding warrants saying that they have won tickets to the Super Bowl and that there will be a party with food and drink at some well known local hotel or ballroom to award the prizes. The scofflaws show up - have some food and drink and then instead of getting Super Bowl tickets - they get arrested.

Happens every year. It helps prove the rule that most criminals are stupid.

What got me thinking about this annual event was the fact that it traditionally happens either today (Friday) or on Saturday. I got to wondering how many people would get caught in the sting. I really feel that there should be record keeping for this and law enforcement officials should have some trophy that goes to the host city that nets the most criminals. They would get to keep the trophy until someone breaks their record.

Of course this could get out of hand with jurisdictions having stings for minor misdemeanors like having a Super Bowl pool, buying scalped tickets and the like just to break the record.

Speaking of criminal acts - betting on the Super Bowl is technically illegal but something that has become as American as apple pie. Everyone it seems buys a square in a pool or puts a little action on the game. The recent law against Internet gambling has had the unintended consequence of turning Internet savvy bettors into bettors who place bets with local bookies.

This was a consequence many of us saw coming and which we spoke out loudly against when the law was snuck into being. Many of us also saw the consequence of people starting to bet more than they normally would because local bookies work on the idea of credit whereas on-line sites require you to put money in advance into your "account". Did the new law actually increase illegal betting? If by amount bet - I would have to say yes the law has increased "illegal" betting because of the "credit" aspect.

One consequence that I didn't see at the time but have come to almost appreciate is the fact that Internet betting was drawing money out of the local and US economies whereas betting with the local bookie keeps the cash in local circulation. On-line betting had money bleeding out of the US to Costa Rica and other "offshore" nations. Betting with the local "Tony Soprano" keeps the money in local circulation (for example Tony always drove a new car and I'm guessing he paid cash plus all those dinners at local restaurants had to pump money back into the community economy).

I have to wonder if keeping money from flowing out of the country wasn't the real goal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, (“UIGEA”). Remember - the law really only places real punishment on banks that facilitate the gambling.

This thought brings to mind a recent conversation I had with a DEA agent I know. He told me that he feels it wouldn't be such a bad thing to redeploy all the DEA agents to the borders because in the scheme of things stopping illegal drug smuggling and the related crimes (terrorism) that can go with it are much more important than trying to catch the urban guy who grows pot in his basement or the rural guy who has a pot grove in the local woods.

I agree with his thoughts (and he's the expert) but I also have to remark that the local pot growers also keep the money in local circulation whereas international smuggler I would think tend to try and take the money home with them.

Anyway - I seem to have wandered away from my original thought of what the over / under will be in criminals caught in a Super Bowl sting this year. Too bad you can't bet on something like that either on-line or with the local bookie. And no - I haven't been smoking local weed to go down this line of thinking in the first place (I know you were wondering about that).

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