Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another Hurdle For Online Poker

You may know that I like to play poker, mainly in house games and the little free tournaments that bars put on, such as Claude & Annie's in Fishers on Saturdays, or Barley Island on Thursdays. I do play online from time to time, but only with play money. I just am not willing to gamble online.

But that's my choice. I believe that any adult in America should have the right to gamble online. So, I was disappointed to the get an email from Full Tilt Poker, bemoaning an item slipped into a port security bill, that could affect online poker. Here's some of the email:
You should be outraged that the U.S. government is infringing on your personal rights and telling you how to use your hard-earned money. You should be outraged by the fact that a minority of legislators passed the UIGEA, which impacts your ability to play the great game of poker on the Internet. They did this by slipping the language into a completely unrelated port security bill that went to the floor just minutes before Congress took its break for the mid-term elections. The bill passed without any Congressional debate or opportunity for you to object.

Although many legal scholars would argue that online poker should not be affected by the UIGEA, we believe the law's lack of clarity can only harm the game unless an express exemption is granted under the UIGEA. You should be outraged that, in a rush to passage, poker did not receive the objective review it deserves, and did not already get this express exemption while lotteries, horse racing, and fantasy sports were all given free passes. We demand that Congress address this grievous oversight now.

Full Tilt is part of the Poker Players Alliance, which is rallying to protect the ability to play online. Fill Tilt's link to PPA. (Those donating to the PPA via Full Tilt are being rewarded with cash in their accounts.)

I wouldn't expect much help from either Republicans or Democrats on this issue unless the drumbeat by poker players is loud and steady. After all, the coalition government of Rs & Ds create the lottery monopolies, the horse track exemptions, etc., here in Indiana and in many other states. The insertion of an obstacle into a fairly obscure bill isn't likely to be picked up by the mainstream media, so players have to contact their elected officials in Congress, and their local media.

Hopefully, poker players will soon see that this hurdle was erected by Republicans and Democrats; that Libertarians are the only ones who will defend the right of adults to gamble online; and that there are parallels between the adult right to gamble and many other issues Libertarians defend.

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