So, Online Poker erodes family values. At least, that’s what a couple of Tennessee Congressman think.
It’s taken me quite a while to compose this blog entry, primarily because I’ve been too angry to articulate what I want to say. There have been many articles, reports, blog entries, etc. written since the Department of Justice’s crackdown of online poker. I don’t have much new information to add, but just want to express my thoughts on the topic. Admittedly, this post is both emotional and fact-based.
After “Black Friday” the Poker Players Alliance sent emails to their members, requesting us to write our congressman expressing our dissatisfaction with the U.S Government’s handling of online poker. I, along with some members of my poker group, did just that. The responses that we received are the primary topics of this post.
Here is an excerpt that Robin received from U.S. Congressman Diane Black (6th District of Tennessee):
“Generally speaking, I oppose any legislation which weakens the family unit. In a time when Americans are struggling to make ends meet, I cannot support legislation which sanctions an industry that erodes traditional family values and creates a compulsive addiction which can lead to the disintegration of the family. During this period of economic hardship we should be strengthening the family unit, not tearing it apart.”
I am not in Congressman Black’s district, and my congressman, Marsha Blackburn (7th District of Tennessee), didn’t bother to respond to me; however, I did receive a response from Senator Lamar Alexander (Senator Bob Corker also didn’t bother with responding). Here is most of his reply:
“Thanks for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding Internet gambling.
Regulation of gambling is primarily a matter of state law unless there is an interstate or foreign element that could frustrate a state’s ability to enforce its laws. Most Internet gambling – including all online poker – was already illegal, but the government has been limited in its ability to enforce applicable state and federal laws since these websites are located in foreign countries. For this reason, recent legislation has focused on ways to stop the flow of money from the U.S. to these offshore websites.
On September 30, 2006, the Senate voted 98-0 to approve the SAFE Port Act, which was signed into law by President Bush on October 13. The SAFE Port Act primarily focuses on improving the security of American ports, but a section of the bill – known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – prohibits banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions from processing payments to Internet gambling websites, except for online wagers on horse racing. This section of the bill was based on earlier legislation that passed the House of Representatives in July 2006 by a vote of 317-93.
I’m grateful that you took the time to let me know where you stand, and I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as gambling issues are discussed and debated in Washington and Tennessee.
So, here’s my response to these Congressman:
First, I’d like to say that after the latest election, I would have thought that you would have realized the American people are pretty fed-up with you deciding what is “best for us”. Our country was founded on the principal of “Freedom of Choice”. Many other countries allow online poker. Our current government’s attack on online poker reeks of Prohibition. Here’s an informative article by Professor I. Nelson Rose, one of the nation’s leading experts on gambling law: http://www.gamblingandthelaw.com/blog/299-federal-poker-indictments-revisiting-prohibition.html .
Congressman Black, as-far-as “eroding family values” is concerned, can we now expect you to “outlaw” bridge, golf, fishing, chess, bunko, and video games, to name a ONLY few activities, because they all can become addictive, take time away from the family, and often have wagers placed on their outcomes?
In case you hadn’t noticed, the old “poker stereotype” of back room cigar-smoking gamblers doesn’t really exist anymore. ESPN, CBS, NBC, and GSN carry regularly televised poker games. If it’s gambling in general that you have an issue with, I’m curious about your views on the numerous government run Lotteries.
Lamar, concerning your statement that “Most Internet gambling – including all online poker – was already illegal“; there are a lot of people, including Senator Alfonse D’Amato who says “Online poker is not a crime and should not be treated as such“, that would disagree with you.
Or Senator Alexander, as you state, I can place online wagers on horse racing, but not play poker. Really? You don’t see the hypocrisy in that?
Lamar, it’s good to know that you will “keep my comments in mind as gambling issues are discussed and debated in Washington and Tennessee“. I will also be watching for your comments and votes on these topics in the future, and despite voting for you in ALL of your previous election, will let them influence my votes in the future!
One of Your Voting Constituents
I believe the politician’s viewpoint, even though the “right thing to do” would be to let people make their own choices, is that they will not benefit much from legalizing poker, but do risk angering the ultra-conservative right-wingers. So, just like prohibition, which was in place from 1920 to 1933, it will take a considerable amount of lobbying (and time) to finally legalize online poker in the U.S.
It really is all about the vote!
Another point-of-interest, to the readers of this post, you should do a Google search for “Justice Department provides guns to Mexican Criminals”. To summarize, the DOJ encouraged gun dealers to sell guns to Mexican criminals with plans of tracking them. But, the DOJ has lost track of those guns. I guess they were too busy using their resources cracking-down on Online Poker!
If you care about Online Poker, or even Poker in-general, I encourage you to join the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) [http://theppa.org/], write your government officials, and make your voice heard!!! If you play poker, but not online, and think this will not affect you; you could be sadly mistaken. Most certainly, without sponsorship, which was mostly provided by online poker sites, the televised poker shows will mostly disappear. If the government is successful with this, what’s to stop them from “going after” the many bar leagues, home games, and various other poker games?