Say goodbye to poker as we know it….

In the last few years, poker has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. After the World Series of Poker began broadcasting on tv, a slew of poker themed shows popped up on networks from ESPN to Bravo. However, all that is about to change. You may soon find it hard to find poker anywhere on television. And you can blame the idiots in Congress for it.

You see, most advertising dollars generated by Poker shows comes from Internet Poker gaming sites. Now that our brilliant Congress has banned Internet gambling in the States, most Poker websites will soon be going the way of the buffalo.

George Will has some interesting things to say. (h/t Ben Bargagliotti, who has a blog, but keeps it private)

Prohibition II: Good Grief; When government restricts Americans’ choices, ostensibly for their own good, someone is going to profit from the paternalism.

By George F. Will

826 words

23 October 2006


U.S. Edition



Copyright (C) 2006 Newsweek Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Perhaps Prohibition II is being launched because Prohibition I worked so well at getting rid of gin. Or maybe the point is to reassure social conservatives that Republicans remain resolved to purify Americans’ behavior. Incorrigible cynics will say Prohibition II is being undertaken because someone stands to make money from interfering with other people making money.

For whatever reason, last Friday the president signed into law Prohibition II. You almost have to admire the government’s plucky refusal to heed history’s warnings about the probable futility of this adventure. This time the government is prohibiting Internet gambling by making it illegal for banks or credit-card companies to process payments to online gambling operations on a list the government will prepare.

Last year about 12 million Americans wagered $6 billion online. But after Congress, 32 minutes before adjourning, passed its ban, the stock of the largest online-gambling business, Gibraltar-based PartyGaming, which gets 85 percent of its $1 billion annual revenue from Americans, declined 58 percent in one day, wiping out about $5 billion in market value. The stock of a British company, World Gaming PLC, which gets about 95 percent of its revenue from Americans, plunged 88 percent. The industry, which has some 2,300 Web sites and did half of its business last year with Americans, has lost $8 billion in market value because of the new law. And you thought the 109th Congress did not accomplish anything.

Supporters of the new law say it merely strengthens enforcement; they claim that Internet gambling is illegal under the Wire Act enacted in 1961, before Al Gore, who was then 13, had invented the Internet. But not all courts agree. Supporters of the new law say online gambling sends billions of dollars overseas. But the way to keep the money here is to decriminalize the activity.

The number of online American gamblers, although just one sixth the number of Americans who visit real casinos annually, doubled in the last year. This competition alarms the nation’s biggest gambling interests–state governments.

It is an iron law: When government uses laws, tariffs and regulations to restrict the choices of Americans, ostensibly for their own good, someone is going to make money from the paternalism. One of the big winners from the government’s action against online gambling will be the state governments that are America’s most relentless promoters of gambling. Forty-eight states (all but Hawaii and Utah) have some form of legalized gambling. Forty-two states have lottery monopolies. Thirty-four states rake in part of the take from casino gambling, slot machines or video poker.

The new law actually legalizes online betting on horse racing, Internet state lotteries and some fantasy sports. The horse- racing industry is a powerful interest. The solidarity of the political class prevents the federal officials from interfering with state officials’ lucrative gambling. And woe unto the politicians who get between a sports fan and his fun.

In the private sector, where realism prevails, casino operators are not hot for criminalizing Internet gambling. This is so for two reasons: It is not in their interest for government to wax censorious. And online gambling might whet the appetites of millions for the real casino experience.

Granted, some people gamble too much. And some people eat too many cheeseburgers. But who wants to live in a society that protects the weak-willed by criminalizing cheeseburgers? Besides, the problems–frequently exaggerated–of criminal involvement in gambling, and of underage and addictive gamblers, can be best dealt with by legalization and regulation utilizing new software solutions. Furthermore, taxation of online poker and other gambling could generate billions for governments.

Prohibition I was a porous wall between Americans and their martinis, giving rise to bad gin supplied by bad people. Prohibition II will provoke imaginative evasions as the market supplies what gamblers will demand–payment methods beyond the reach of Congress.

But governments and sundry busybodies seem affronted by the Internet, as they are by any unregulated sphere of life. The speech police are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse. And now, by banning a particular behavior–the entertainment some people choose, using their own money–government has advanced its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet.

Gambling is, however, as American as the Gold Rush or, for that matter, Wall Street. George Washington deplored the rampant gambling at Valley Forge, but lotteries helped fund his army as well as Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth. And Washington endorsed the lottery that helped fund construction of the city that now bears his name, and from which has come a stern–but interestingly selective–disapproval of gambling.

Ben Bargagliotti
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25 responses to “Say goodbye to poker as we know it….

  1. The very fact that Congress spent time outlawing something like Internet Poker while they let the United States be invaded along all our borders is nothing short of incredulous. I pay taxes with the expectation that the Govt. will protect me from dangers, not from myself.

  2. Well, I think they should make it easier for people to legally enter the country. The times when we’ve had teh fewest illegal immigrants in the last century was when legal immigration was easiest.

    But I agree, in theory. Government should protect individual rights not quelch them.

  3. Justin, I think that the key word there is “Legally”.

  4. Right, and the reason that we have so many illegal immigrants is that we have tons of jobs and its nearly impossible for people to legally immigrate.

    I don’t mind having lots of hispanic people here. As a matter of fact, I love their culture and they are great for our economy. I’m just tired of all this racist talk about illegal immigrants. It is out of control

  5. Justin, I think you are falling into the easy trap. Simply because someone is against illegal immigration does not make them racist. I hear that quite often on TV and the Radio. Someone can be talking out against ILLEGAL immigration and just wanting to stop the flood of it and right away the hispanic radios denounce him as against Mexicans or as being a bigot.

    I am all for LEGAL immigration but simply because something is difficult does not make it right to break the law. If the ATM is too difficult to work does not give me the right to break into it simply because there is a lot of money there.

    I think we are on the same page for the most part. Great blog btw. Glad I stumbled on it.

  6. Well, I’m not just calling people racist that are against illegal immigration. Some on talk radio, people that call in, people that I talk to, its obvious that their problem isn’t illegal immigration, its hispanics.

    And I understand your desire for people to not break the law, but I can tell you in a heartbeat, if my family couldn’t survive in Mexico, and I knew that if I went across a border, I could feed my family. Even if it were illegal I would do it. It would still make me a lawbreaker, but I would consider a lot of things so that my kids and wife don’t starve.

    But that’s why I’m for making it easier for people to get in here. No one seems to be making that argument though.

  7. Actually, the person has an account with the bank, and is simply trying to to get his money, but the machine is broke. So both the bank and the person are at fault. So now the “Mexicans” are stealing our money… as the analogy goes.

    Of course, the immigration argument completely ignores the fact that “these people” are working $3 jobs in inner cities like Dallas. But thanks to cheap labor, it keeps retail costs down so I don’t have to spend my hard earned money. šŸ™‚

    While you may not be making racist comments, I find many people with the “they’re not like us” mentality. I’m sure we wouldn’t be having this discussion if a bunch of Brits came flooding over the ocean. Or maybe a bunch of Irish (something about a potato famine). We might not raise an eyebrow about “those people.”

  8. I don’t know Dman… we didn’t like the Irish the first time they came over here. Remember Far and Away?

  9. I don’t know Dman… we didn’t like the Irish the first time they came over here. Remember Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in that movie where he punches the horse?

  10. Actually, no… but I’ll take your word for it.

    Come to think of it, we’ve found a way to hate just about every immigrant population. I guess it’s like an initiation.

  11. It’s not about Brits, Hispanics or whatever. It is about securing our border. It’s not even about the economics (or shouldn’t be). It’s about securing our borders. I truly feel that our Govt will not get serious about this until something huge like a small nuke being set off on our soil that was smuggled in across the border (either border).

    It sure doesn’t help when the whole argument is not phrased as “undocumented” instead of “illegal”.

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  13. Poker will survive – It’s the peoples choice.

  14. No doubt. Poker will not die.

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  21. wow, man, you need to get a spam filter. Meanwhile here’s some comments on the whole immigration thing:

  22. Lovely to see such a wonderful site. Thank you

  23. I realy feel for the gamblers in the US. I cant beleive your Congress banned all banks and credit card companies from accepting transactions from online gambling sites which makes you unable to play online poker. What a bunch of hypocrites your state government are. They have the largest gambling operations with lotto, keno, etc. If they truly believed their rhetoric about internet gambling they would cut out the state operations also. And now they are bringing in a law to legalise slot machines. Personally I would have a big grudge against any party that stopped me from playing online
    poker. I think there must be some way for you guys to get around this problem. Must make you wonder if you are living in the land of the free when it seems the government has full control on what it will and wont let you do.

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