Saturday, September 30, 2006

We Lose

As you've probably already read elsewhere, we're a signature away from Internet gambling being illegal in the US. Frist got his wish, tacking on the Internet gambling legislation to the Port Authority bill authorizing more money to fight them mean ol' terrorists, and it passed overwhelmingly.

Not to be Captain Bringdown, but we're pretty thoroughly fucked here. The problem is that (and it pains me to say this) the specific language in the gambling bill was fairly shrewdly crafted. It doesn't really matter that there's no effective way to enforce it, as it places the onus squarely on online gaming sites and transaction processing companies like Neteller, many of which are now publicly traded companies. They have no choice but to bar US players from playing for real money, even if there's no immediate threat of enforcement. It also dodges any appeals on skill/game of chance issues, as it didn't attempt to say its illegal for US players to play games of chance online, it simply makes it illegal for any money from US players to flow into or out of online gaming sites.

Realistically, there's virtually 0% chance that this ever gets overturned or modified even if the Democrats regain control of the House or Senate. That's the real tragedy here that Frist has bequeathed us. We can pretend that Democrats might save us, being logical and rational and all that, but that's ignoring the fact that many Democrats in office now supported the Internet gambling ban. It may be painful to admit, but we were in the minority on this issue, opposing the Internet gambling ban. If you're not an elected official from Nevada or New Jersey, it's pretty idiotic for you to take a public stance that is pro-gambling, even if there's a great argument to be made as far as the revenues created from regulating and taxing the industry. That applies to Democrats just as it does to Republicans. This ain't going to be revisited or modified, regardless of who controls Congress.

As far as workarounds, sure, we're likely going to see all sorts of exotic ideas pitched, as far as opening offshore bank accounts, tricknological ways to hide the fact that you're playing from the US, etc. None of that is the point, though. The typical casual player that drives the whole poker economy is never going to go to those lengths, which sends rippling effects across the entire online poker landscape. Poorer games, fewer promotions, and likely a lot of sites going under or being purchased for pennies on the dollars by the almighty Party machine.

So, umm, yeah. Happy Saturday, here in the good ol' US of A.


kurokitty said...

Good post. I know you're well meaning, but don't you mean "illegal" in your lede?

"As you've probably already read elsewhere, we're a signature away from Internet gambling being legal in the US."

I'm just wondering if we can adapt to the changes. Now I realize we poker players were the real fish.

Gregory Damien said...

I can send you the real estate listings from Canada.

I live in a small University town. A masters might be good enough to land a teaching job.

" home of the Free.." in name only. Free to do what your lobbyist want you guys to do.

Unknown said...

I'm not going to bother with "work-arounds".

If the US Gov't needs to be our parent then the idea of personal freedoms has just left the building.

CC said...

I agree with you Scurv for the most part. Certainly, we are in the bigtime minority when it comes to people who care enough to stand up and be heard and go to the mat. Who's willing to be voted out of office for supporting online poker? Who's willing to be voted out of office for being against online poker?

Online poker coupled with the significant rise in casinos all over the US to me shows that we may actually be less in the minority than we might think; however, the fact remains that folks against gambling in general and online poker specifically are much better organized and funded than than folks like the PPA would ever be.