As usual, when the news broke of the April 15 action of the federal government to shut down online poker in the United States, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) was the first to spring into action.
Within days of the announcements, the organization had rallied its 1.2 million members to “flood” Capitol Hill, the White House, and the Department of Justice with more than 65,000 email messages, “and the group received tens of thousands of dollars in donations last week,” the Washington Post reports.
“Maybe now more apathetic poker players have realized that becoming politically active and going to the Hill is something they’d be willing to do,” PPA Executive Director John Pappas told the Post.
“This is an attack on Internet poker and American poker players like me,” PPA Chairman Al D’Amato wrote in a separate Washington Post editorial. “Through these strong-arm tactics, prosecutors think they can ban Internet poker. Instead, they are making millions of Americans victims in an attempt to make online poker illegal without the support of legislators or the public.
It seems that most media figures agree with the PPA, liberals and conservatives alike.
“The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) is poorly written, clumsy attempt to ban online gambling by deputizing banks and credit processing companies to prevent payment processing of ‘unlawful’ Internet gambling — without ever defining what constitutes such ‘unlawful’ Internet gambling,” writes Michelle Minton at Fox News.
“Regardless of political affiliation, most Americans recognize that we ought to have the right to engage in any voluntary activity so long as it doesn’t violate another person’s rights. We ought to be able to look to our government for protection — not persecution,” Minton adds.
“Supposedly to protect people from their own poor decisions, Congress sent billions of dollars in economic activity overseas,” editorializes New Hampshire’s Union Leader. “And it did so without a full discussion of the proposal or its consequences.”
“Politicians will tell you that they want to put a dent in the United States’ astronomical debt,” writes Craig Rondinone at the Bleacher Report. “But if that was truly the case, why not legalize online poker and rake in millions and billions in tax revenue from it?
“Politicians will tell you that they want to create more jobs and cut down on unemployment. But if that were truly the case, why put millions of professional online poker players out of work? Now you are adding to the unemployment problem, as these card sharks will look for regular jobs.
“For those who prefer to keep playing poker as their full-time job, now you are chasing them away to other countries where online poker is legal, so having Americans flock to other countries does not do our economy any good.”
“Although for the moment only gamblers appear to be out in the cold, the biggest loser in the long run is sure to be the American economy, including the Treasury,” writes Alexander Baron at Digital Journal.
“Poker, gaming generally, and everything associated with it – advertising, merchandising, software development, web hosting… – is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is well known that nature abhors a vacuum; as of 2008, PokerStars alone had a market value of $3 billion. If that money is chased out of the country by a latter day Eliot Ness, it may find a new, permanent home in the UK, Eastern Europe, or even China whose population of 1.3 billion are fanatical gamblers.”