To my British friends smarting from the lickings we gave 'em in the Revolution and the War of 1812 (well, New Orleans anyway). Good news.
We're at war again. And this time you'll win.
The Bush Administration has declared war against the Internet, specifically that form of e-commerce known as gambling. A new law will force banks and credit agencies into cooperating with this war on commerce.
Guess who leads this new industry? The British. Pictured, for instance, is Gareth Southgate, now manager of the Middlesbrough football club. Notice the shirt. The sponsor is 888.com, an Internet gambling site.
Boro is just one of several teams sporting the name of gambling sites on its shirts this season. One of the regular advertisers at Manchester United, owned by American Malcolm Glazer, is BetFred, a sports gambling site. The shirt sponsor for Aston Villa, now owned by Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner, is another gambling site, 32red.
The purpose of this bill is as old-fashioned as a Third World dictator trying to stop Internet cafes. The purpose is to protect government-controlled monopolies. States with lotteries and casinos don't want to lose part of the handle. There is no "moral" component to all this, as the bill's sponsors claim. That's a cover. This is only a question of who gets the action.
For now, the British sites' and their shareholders are knocked on their heels. But I guarantee that workarounds will be found. They always are. Deposit money with a bank registered in a third country, and that bank will than handle your account with the casinos. The U.S. can't prevent the initial transfer, and after that everything is legal.
It will take a few years, but eventually, this time, it's the U.S. that will come crawling to the negotating table.
So if the British accept the Revolution as a loss and 1812 as a draw, we'll be tied.