Thursday December 13, 2018
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Sports Betting Now Legal in USA

Finally, it will be interesting to see whether or not this is favorably going to impact the US justice system, perhaps reducing the number of illicit activities related to betting, with players moving to safer, more enjoyable and reliable, sources of entertainment

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Casinos, card games
We’re all very familiar with gambling websites and online casinos, where you can do anything from betting on sports events. Pixabay
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While this may sound strange to most people residing outside of the United States, Sports
Betting has been mostly illegal in the US up until this point. People living in Europe have been gambling on their favorite teams and sport event for decades now, with the possibility to do it legally in proper physical facilities or online, thanks to a wide variety of websites offering such possibility.

Online casinos might have actually played a big part in the legalization of betting in the US,
with a non-defined number of people resorting to online gambling through proxies and
localization softwares while actually living in the United States. If you can’t fight them, join
them. That’s something that has become a fairly common trend when it comes to
depenalization or legalization of anything, from recreational substances, to betting, or even
drugs, surprisingly producing positive effects in a number of occasions.

We’re all very familiar with gambling websites and online casinos, where you can do anything from betting on sports events, to playing table games or slots. While safe and working to avoid any sort of malfunction, in accordance to the strict laws they’re required to abide by, it is hard to imagine that all of such websites in the world could possibly detect all of the US users – especially the most digitally prolific ones – who were using proxies in order to get access to legal sports betting.

Sports Betting
Representational image. Pixabay

Apart from this, black market bookies have always been a problem in the US, much like black market moonshiners used to be back in the Prohibition Era, and legalizing sports betting aims to reduce the number of people conducting this kind of shady business, especially considering that such individuals are often associated to bigger criminal organizations, and can be very dangerous to their clients.

It will be interesting to follow the situation, especially with NFL season kicking off, and see
how this shift in American laws and regulations will impact the markets and courtrooms.
After all, as any new business, it is up for grabs, with casinos looking to expand their markets, and new competitors trying to enter the world of sports betting. It will also be interesting to see how this reflects on all the international players offering online betting, and the possibility of some of them entering the US territory.

Finally, it will be interesting to see whether or not this is favorably going to impact the US
justice system, perhaps reducing the number of illicit activities related to betting, with players moving to safer, more enjoyable and reliable, sources of entertainment.

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Pakistan Reacts Sharply To U.S. Religious Freedom Charges

China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are also included in the U.S. list of countries accused

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Pakistan
A Pakistani nun holds a candle during a vigil for victims of a deadly suicide bombing in a park, March 28, 2016, in Lahore. VOA

Pakistan is denouncing a U.S. decision to place it on a list of countries Washington says are the worst offenders of religious freedom.

“Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities… there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise,” the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday in a strongly-worded statement.

The reaction comes a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced his designation of “countries of particular concern” that allegedly have engaged in or tolerated ”systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Freedom Violations

The countries on the blacklist are exposed to punitive sanctions, but Pompeo waived them for Pakistan, citing U.S. national interests.

Pakistan had until now been on a U.S. watch list for governments that have “engaged in or tolerated” severe violations of religious freedom.

Pakistan
Pakistani volunteers collect debris from an Ahmadi mosque demolished by an angry mob, in the eastern city of Sialkot. VOA

While rebuking Tuesday’s U.S. pronouncement as “unilateral and politically motivated,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry noted Pakistan is “a multi-religious and pluralistic society” of more than 200 million people, mostly Muslims.

“Around four percent of our total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh faiths. Ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution of Pakistan,” it said.

Ahmadis most persecuted community

The statement did not mention the Ahmadi sect, which critics say is the most persecuted minority in Pakistan. The constitution bars the community from “posing as Muslims” and from calling their worship places “mosques.”

U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback while defending downgrading of Pakistan reiterated Tuesday the challenges facing the Ahmadi community.

USA, Pakistan
Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, speaks to reporters at the State Department in Washington. VOA

“The Pakistani government criminalizes the identification of Ahmadis as Muslims, and then also — and this one has really been difficult and troubling for a lot of people — the government often fails to hold accountable perpetrators of killings and violence against members of religious minorities targeted on account of their religious beliefs or affiliations,” said Brownback.

Blasphemy laws

He cited, among other things, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws as a cause for the downgrade of the country’s religious freedom ranking. The laws prescribe the death penalty for those found guilty.

Rights groups have long complained Islamist groups misuse the law to intimidate minorities in the country.

Insulting Islam or its prophet is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where mere allegations have led to mob lynchings. A former provincial governor, a federal minister, judges and lawyers are among those assassinated in Pakistan by extremists merely for calling for reform of the blasphemy laws to prevent their misuse or for hearing cases and defending alleged blasphemers.

Asia Bibi

In a historic judgement this past October, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been on death row for eight years after being convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammad. The women denied the charges from the outset as an outcome of a local feud and the country’s highest court cited lack of evidence in overturning her conviction by a lower court.

Pakistan
Radical Islamists rally to condemn a Supreme Court decision that acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, who spent eight years on death row accused of blasphemy, in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Bibi and her family have been in hiding since her release. Her lawyer fled Pakistan shortly after the landmark court ruling announced on October 31, saying his life was in danger.

Bibi is awaiting a rehearing of her case by the Supreme Court and is residing in a safe place under government protection, say Pakistani officials.

Pakistan also arrested hundreds of Islamist activists and their leaders last month for staging days of mass violent protests to denounce the court for freeing Bibi.

Also Read: Muslims in Malaysia Rally In Kuala Lumpur To Keep Status

The government has charged the detainees with treason and terrorism and officials have vowed to put them on trial in special courts.

“It’s our hope that they will, the new leadership in Pakistan, will work to improve the situation. There was some encouraging signs seen recently on how they’ve handled some of the recent protesting against the blasphemy laws, and we continue to watch very carefully what’s happening to Asia Bibi,” said Brownback.

China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are also included in the U.S. list of countries accused of committing severe violations of religious freedom. (VOA)