“I didn’t Inhale.” Right!

by Lou on May 25, 2006

Poker should be excluded from Rep Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) proposed ban because it is a game of skill, not chance. According to Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, “Poker is a skill game. You can influence events. The original cards are random, but you can influence your success or failure throughout the hand.”

Rep Goodlatte, who said he played poker as a young man but never for money, disagreed. Poker is “absolutely a game of chance,” he said. Just as an aside, doesn’t this sound reminiscent of President Clinton saying that he didn’t inhale? It’s just as ludicrous too. Without money, poker is a child’s game; one devoid of strategy and subtlety that amounts to simply showing down the best hand.

By way of a compromise approach to this issue, three Congressional representatives from Nevada — Jon Porter (R), Shelley Berkley (D) and Jim Gibbons (R) — introduced legislation calling for an 18-month study to determine whether online gambling and could be regulated and taxed, as it is in Britain.

Rep Goodlatte said such regulation could not exist here because gambling is regulated at the state, not federal, level. But his statement is disingenuous at best because his own bill carves out exemptions for horse racing and fantasy sports, and if these wagering opportunities can be regulated, why not poker?

The Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents 5,000 small banks, stands opposed to Rep. Goodlatte’s bill because of its enormous unfunded mandate. His bill requires banks to assume much of the burden of analyzing customer payments, but provides no resources to pay for this. Stephen J. Verdier, senior vice president for congressional affairs for this group, said that banks, “. . . are in the business of making customer payments as quickly and accurately as possible, not trying to decide if you’re a good person or a bad person.”

While all of this is going on, officials with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association are negotiating with the Department of Justice over language in the bill relevant to horse racing. They are seeking language that provides an exemption for betting authorized by the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act. This act was amended in 2000 to permit Internet wagering on horse racing.

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