Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prohibiting Online Poker

The government decided to effectively shut down online poker on April 15th, which has come to be known as Black Friday among poker players (link). 

I have been pretty disgusted by this since it happened.  Going from rage (which I still have) to more sheer disgust, to just an overall feeling of sadness.   

I made a modest amount of side-income from playing Internet poker, which is now not available.  While my income will be negatively affected, I am not as hurt as many.  I have a friend who is a professional poker player and he mainly played on the Internet.  Another friend runs a poker forum and earned money from the online poker sites that advertised with him - he likely will be hurt.  A third friend helped "stake" poker players to play in tournaments, where he would get a small profit from doing this.  I can't imagine the hassles he has right now.  This action just cost thousands of Americans their jobs, and cost millions of Americans the liberty from playing poker from their house. 

This is so sad on so many levels.  Our country has massive deficit problems, and the idea that the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars prosecuting poker when instead it could be legalized and taxed is crazy.  Compared to our deficits, five billion dollars per year might seem small, but at this point I don't think our government is in the position to turn down $5 billion of extra revenue. 

Above all, every time I hear "land of the free" referring to the United States, I shake my head.  For those who don't play poker - think about what your most enjoyable hobby is, whether it is hunting, gardening, working with your local church, etc.  Now imagine the government bans it.  That's how I feel right now.

I am ashamed of and saddened and embarrassed by the actions of our country.

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