By now, unless they are cave dwellers with no media access or internet, every poker player on the planet has heard of ‘Black Friday’ and what it means to players in the USA. But what exactly does it mean to us who are fortunate enough to live in
what used to be the greatest country on earth?
Poker players in the USA are mad and we have used our anger to speak out in forums, blogs, and live poker games across the country. We have also rallied by signing up for membership in the Poker Players Alliance, hoping the PPA can give us a small ray of sunshine to break through the dark clouds known as Black Friday. If anyone can represent us it is the PPA, well known for their constant efforts to make poker legal and regulated since the UIGEA went into effect in 2006. If you are not a member yet, become a member of the PPA now and let your voice be heard!
Those of us that are a part of this vast criminal element known as ‘poker players,’ are outraged that our freedom to play the game we love within the confines of our own home is being denied us. More and more, the powers that be in this country seem to think it is their job to protect us from ourselves and to be our moral compass. This is being done by telling us what we can and can’t do, taking away even our smallest liberties like the ability to play a game of skill on our computers. The more that is written in the media, the more questions this writer has like who is really behind this witch hunt and why?
For me, it comes down to economics. Online Poker is a money machine and the USA wants a big hunk of the cash the online poker sites have been raking in. The part that baffles me is the way our government is going about the business of making sure the poker sites pay up. Maybe the DoJ is hoping that the big three will emulate Anurag Dikshit, one of the founders of gaming giant Party Poker. In 2008 Dikshit pled guilty to violating internet gambling charges under the Federal Wire Act and handed over $300 Million without a fight. But even if the government is seeing dollar signs totaling millions from a settlement, it is a onetime deal that will cost millions in tax payer dollars. To one whose economic expertise stems from balancing the household budget every month, while a onetime cash windfall sounds wonderful, I would rather have a nice steady income that lasts for years. By taking those taxpayer dollars to legalizing and regulate online poker, the government coffers would have a steady stream of income for years to come instead of a onetime cash infusion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what a steady income totaling millions would do to help the USA’s trillion dollar plus deficit.
The biggest downside of the economics of this witch hunt is the trickledown negative effect it has on thousands of citizens in the USA - by ending their ability to make a living. We are not just talking about the well publicized online poker players who make a living at the virtual tables, but those behind the scenes who feed their families with real jobs related to online poker.
All anyone has to do is Google ‘online poker’ to find over 29,700,000 listings relating to the subject. Every one of those millions of online poker related sites has real people working behind the scenes. The list is long, from reporters at live events, to editors, writers, programmers, and web designers to hosting companies; a multitude of people rely on online poker to earn money to help support them and their families. This is a repercussion of ‘Black Friday’ that will hurt the US economy the most, as thousands of people who work in the online poker sector scramble to find jobs that don’t exist. These are honest tax payers who in most cases do not qualify for unemployment because they work for a foreign company. When the ax falls, obliterating their employment, how many will have to ask for public assistance to put food on the table? How many houses will go into foreclosure because the mortgage can’t be met? There are simply not enough jobs or the right kind of positions available in land based casinos to absorb all of those who will be displaced from the virtual poker world.
Not only would taxing and regulating online poker be a constant stream of tax dollar income for the government from the regulated and legal poker sites, but also from the thousands of people employed in the field of online poker. Our current President ran on a ticket of ‘change’ but this is one change that we hoped to never see, especially from a leader who admits to being an avid poker player himself. Or from a congress that passes their time playing poker in between long congressional sessions.
I remember my Mother saying ‘do as I say not as I do,’ which makes me realize the government here in the land of the free is trying to fill my Mother shoes. That will never happen, my Mother believed in each person’s freedom and the right to pursue happiness as long as it didn’t infringe on another or hurt them in any way. I only wish all of those who hold office were as smart as Mom was.
Always being the rebellious kind, I am still playing poker online at those sites that haven’t buckled under to the witch hunt and threats of the US government. I commend ROXPoker and Carbon Poker for standing up and welcoming US players, this is where you will find me - pursuing the happiness I get from playing poker online.