Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why Ban Online Poker and Internet Gaming?

Ironically, poker-loving Americans can no longer play online. They can play all the poker they like in Vegas or in any brick-and-mortar casino. They can play poker with their buddies at home. However, they can no longer play poker in virtual poker rooms. It is illegal.

Protection of Minors?

What I don’t understand, though, is the logic behind the Act. We certainly don’t want minors playing online, but is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 the best way to prevent this?

Let me put it this way. Clich├ęd as it may seem, children are truly their parents’ responsibility. If they don’t want their kids visiting online poker rooms, then they can prevent their kids from doing so. They can install monitoring software in their computers or applications that will not allow their kids to open online poker sites.

Parents also have to refrain from giving their underage children credit cards. While it is true that credit cards are generally available only to persons 18 years old and above, some parents apply for extension or additional cards that they let their kids use. Now, if that’s not aiding and abetting, I don’t know what is.

The Act is very unfair to people who love the convenience of playing poker online. Saying that the UIGEA is necessary to protect our children from the lures of online gambling is patently untrue. This can’t be the real reason. What is it then?

Threatened Brick-and-Mortar Casinos?

Now, this is more like it. Internet gambling, and poker especially, has grown so much in just two years. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that we can expect more growth in this gambling industry. Big casinos may not like the competition.

However, it is a fact that casinos here actually would like internet gambling legalized. Since they can see the appeal of online poker to the American masses, they have decided that they’d just rather profit from it. Moreover, these casino executives rightly suppose that online poker ultimately promotes the whole gambling industry. The players online are going to wind up in the brick-and-mortar casinos sooner or later. Thus, they don’t actually stand to lose anything if they encourage online poker.

In truth, casino owners can create virtual casinos that will be the counterparts of their offline casinos; and when online poker players tire of the online game, they will go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas and play there. Because offline casinos really do stand to gain from the legalization of online casinos, then this can’t be the reason behind UIGEA.

Protectionist Tendencies?

Now, I am convinced that this is the real reason behind the ban. Remember the dispute between the United States and Antigua where the World Trade Organization actually sided with the latter? The United States prohibited Americans from betting online with offshore bookers. Apparently, it is the government’s position that it’s okay to gamble as long as you’re not going to make foreigners rich.

It is my opinion that the UIGEA is just a first step in the government’s bid to dominate internet poker and gaming. After Americans can no longer place bets online, a lot of online casinos will be forced to shut down. Most of these online poker rooms are based offshore and majority of their customers are Americans.

When the coast is clear, an amendment will be passed that will make online poker and internet gaming legal once again – as long as they played with American-owned and -operated online poker rooms and casinos.

Just my two cents’ worth.


The Vollmer said...

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I have a website, Rounders United Gaming. Its also a pretty cool site!

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Keep well.

Anonymous said...

your right in what you say about children being their parents responsibility but i do think that the online poker providers should do more to ensure only those supposed to be playing are playing. After all, in todays day and age it is nearly impossible for kids to be watched 24/7 and in any case, the child is probably going to be more web savvy than the parent.

I also think allowing people to play online poker with credit cards is assisting financial ruin for many people . stop this madness now!! why are people allowed to gamble with money that is not theirs?

don't misunderstand me; i partake in a bit of online poker, but only with my own money. i am not calling for the industry to be crushed, just to be regulated more effectively.

thoughts please :)