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Online Poker Protestors Gather in DC

25 May 2011 by admin

Oh, I do love a good protest!

First it was the seizure of Poker Stars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Two days ago it was ten more online gambling domains. Enough is enough. Online poker players have gathered at Capitol Hill to protest the Department of Justice’s intriguingly timed crackdown on online gambling, which seems to be focused on online poker. Funny, the state level bills that have significantly moved forward are online poker.

Former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato has said that gathering is to put a face to the ten million online poker players in the US.

While US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said the recent indictments and crackdowns on online gambling and online poker portals is to put some oomph behind the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), American online poker players are saying that their rights are being violated. As D’Amato put it, “We are deeply concerned about losing our rights. It is about rights of what you can do in your own home on your own time.”

Professional poker player Linda Johnson agrees with D’Amato: “It is not just a loss of a source of income. It is my hobby, my passion. I travel over two hundred days of the year, and at night in my hotel room I love to play online poker. And I often play it at home. How can they prohibit a game you can play in your own home?”

And both Johnson and D’Amato have a point. Online poker is played with players’ own money. Money that they have earned; money they pay taxes on. And now you have the government trying to tell the millions of Americans who play online poker that they cannot, that how they choose to spend their own money is illegal and morally bad for them. It is not the online portion of online gambling that Conservatives have a problem with, it is the gambling—it is the gambling that is morally bankrupt as they think of it. If that is that case then why is there no movement to ban land-based gambling? Simple. They are likely making money off of it themselves through stock or from campaign donations from the Sovereign Nations who run a large portion of the American land-based casinos.

It is not like American online poker players are against the US government sticking their noses into their favorite online game. “We believe in proper rules and regulation, and for them to be followed,” D’Amato has said. In fact, online poker players believe that the US government needs online poker to be regulated for the revenue it can bring in, and with ten million players in the country they have a point. “[The goal is] regulating and licensing. The government is in dire need of funds and this could provide a steady revenue stream. And [poker] is fun! It is something fun that the government can earn money off of,” said Eric Prag, who is the DC State Director for the Poker Players Alliance.

If the seizures continue it is likely that online poker will go underground and US players will be pushed to play unprotected on foreign sites. Should that happen the US will be missing out on a large chunk of that it desperately needs. As New York protest Daniel Alexander’s sign read, “Ease the Debt, Let Us Bet!” We will see if the federal government will listen to reason.

One Response to “Online Poker Protestors Gather in DC”

  1. James says:

    Good points. Except Eric Holder might be the LEAST conservative U.S. Attorney General in history. I wonder why you think he is doing this because “the Conservatives” have a problem with gambling.