The Telephone March on Washington

by Lou on September 13, 2006

From what I’ve been able to gather the telephone march on Washington was a success. At least that’s the buzz that seems to be out there.

I’d like to say that our efforts will convince voting legislators to change their minds and vote against H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this summer, or better yet, take action to not even allow it see the light of day on the Senate floor.

I’m not so sure that will be accomplished in one fell swoop, but what I hope happens, and what will represent a success to me, is that elected public officials begin to realize that there really is a poker lobby, and it is big, and it has clout.

The poker lobby is so new that most members of Congress don’t realize that an organization like the Poker Players Alliance has 100,000 members. It just doesn’t come to mind when you say the word “poker” to them.

Compare that to other well established lobbying groups. Say the words “gun control” to any elected official and the following three things immediately will come to his or her political mind. 1. National Rifle Association. 2. Well organized group with loads of voters represented. 3. A deep war chest that I’d love to tap into for my campaign.

The NRA is a powerful lobbying group, but they’ve been around a while and they didn’t get to where they are now — big, powerful, and prominent — over night. They worked the halls of Congress. And they worked them hard. The Poker Players Alliance can’t expect to become that kind of force overnight either.

But they are getting there. With 100,000 members, they represent a lot of votes. And they ought to represent even more. They should represent everyone who plays poker — professionally, recreationally, online or in a traditional casino — they are a voice for our rights as poker players, and everyone who cares about the game should join and make their voice heard.

H.R.4411 is shameful; it is appallingly bad legislation. It is a hypocritical bill with cutouts exempting some from its provisions while punishing others. But more than that, it’s a sumptuary law, and we have too many of these laws in our land right now. A free society gives free people the right to express themselves as they choose and to make decisions that affect their own life. For an elected body of public servants to believe that they are enabled to act as our parents, and can override decisions that — in their opinion, but not mine — are bad for me, they are casting themselves in the role of a parent and placing me in the position of a child who is not yet ready to make his or her own life decisions.

How ridiculous is that? I am not a child. The people I vote for represent me, and I do not give them the right to override my personal decisions. They are neither big brother, parent, nor nanny — though their conduct shows that they fail to realize these limits.

Sumptuary laws are bad as a general case. But for us, the poker players of America, it’s time to take one giant step to retain our freedom to engage in a civil game of poker — online or in a casino or in someone’s home — without fearing Draconian measures from the people who work for us and whom we elected to represent us and protect our rights and responsibilities.

The best way to do that is to continue to educate, lobby, and pressure Congress so that they begin to behave like the our representatives, not our parents.

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