Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Debate Over Online Poker (cactus i.v.)

The debate on online gambling rages in Congress even as I type this. Lawmakers are trying to decide if legalizing Internet gambling is the right thing to do since it was outlawed a year ago.

People are still playing poker online. I still play poker online, but advocates out there are trying to make it so it’s not against the law.

Nevada is working on becoming the first state to legalize Internet gambling. There is a catch: You have to be a Nevada resident and only gamble online within the state limits. The law states that online gambling can be regulated by states. It also states that bets are legal as long as they begin and end in a jurisdiction where Internet gambling is allowed.

This idea is still in its infancy. Regulators right now are trying to gauge public opinion and find out how many state residents gamble online. Once their investigation is complete they will move forward or just put the idea into the trash. However, states don’t want to change the law just yet. They are waiting to see what the Legislature is going to decide before moving forward.

By approving last year’s Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, the United States is losing a ton of business and pushing the Internet gaming underground. Companies that used to operate within the U.S. borders are now offshore just out of reach of U.S. jurisdiction. Online gamblers have created offshore accounts because credit card companies and banks have to follow federal regulation.

For people like myself, it doesn’t matter if Internet poker is legalized. I live 20 minutes away from Atlantic City. For people such as my brother who enjoys poker, but lives almost two hours away, legalizing the online game would become one less burden.

It’s legal to gamble inside of a casino, where the government is getting money back. But if you do it where the government isn’t getting a cut, that’s when the government gets mad. Like people who smoke cigarettes, tax the heck out of it. Legalize online gambling and get a percentage of it going into your pocket.

States could use the extra revenue, considering they are always in debt. States such as California, where there is a large population and many live poker rooms, could use the money rather than setting up authorities to arrest people.

The gamblers are still going to gamble (there is a reason slot parlors popping up in the middle of nowhere are thriving). Smokers are still going to smoke. The government is still going to tax.

Give the people what they want. Allow them to sit at home in the underwear while playing five different games of poker. Gas costs too much these days anyhow.

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