Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Stop the Presses! Threat of Punishment Might Work!

Thursday, December 4th, 2008


The respected journal Science will publish tomorrow a research study that suggests that the threat of punishment can keep people from getting in trouble. Stop the presses!

You’d think that this might have been studied before. But previous studies (focusing on freeloading vs. pro-social behavior) only focused on short-term outcomes. This new study, on the other hand, found in the long term the threat of punishment becomes deeply embedded in people’s subconscious, so that they come to fear getting in trouble.

You’d think this might have been too obvious to require study. But as Karl Sigmund of the University of Vienna explained to, “the experimental work is extremely important and timely, as many researchers had voices concern whether punishment is not too costly a tool to promote cooperation.”

Clearly punishment isn’t the only tool out there to affect people’s behavior. Socialization, community involvement, and positive inducements are all strong factors. But we’re going to go out on a limb and say that, until something else comes along that satisfies society’s need for deterrence, removal (and, sadly, retribution), punishment’s going to remain part of our toolbox for a long long time.

[The research was performed by a team led by Simon Gächter at the University of Nottingham.]

Treasury & Fed Rules Outlaw Internet Gambling

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Online gambling illegal

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury promulgated new rules that prohibit the processing of payments related to Internet gambling. By forbidding financial institutions from processing the payments, the government has essentially outlawed online gambling.

What constitutes “online gambling” is left up to state law. A few kinds of betting are still allowed, including government lotteries, horse racing and fantasy sport leagues. College and pro sports books, however, are no longer allowed. The same goes for online poker, roulette, craps, slots and other casino-type gaming.

Internet gambling is believed by many in law enforcement to be important to organized crime. It is a profitable source of revenue in its own right, and is difficult to police. “Street level” bookmakers are also believed to use online sports gambling to facilitate their activities, and to hedge or shift the risks of the street wagers they accept.

The new rule has been opposed by Democratic lawmakers and gambling businesses, as well as by financial institutions that would bear the burden of implementing the rule.