Why Banning Online Poker is Bad for You, Me, and Everyone Else

by Lou on April 17, 2006

In a recent editorial, Card Player Magazine Chairman Barry Shulman had some strong comments regarding the Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) bill:

Shulman said, It wants banks knowing where you transfer funds, which enables and requires them to know intimately your exact buying habits. To comply, the government is requiring financial institutions, credit card companies, and Internet service providers to bear the cost of being the watchdogs and tracking the suspects.

I couldn’t agree more. For years the Federal Government has passed mandates down to state and local government, usually without the funding required to carry them out. These unfunded mandates have been the bane of governors, mayors, county officials, and city councils across the land.

Now Rep. Goodlatte has taken that one step further. His bill would mandate investigative and enforcement activities for the private sector. It would do this by requiring banks, other financial institutions, credit card companies, and internet service providers to do the government’s work for them by watching, tracking, and reporting on their own customers’ buying habits, and these firms would be required to do it at their own expense.

Regardless of your stance on Internet gaming, this legislation is so flawed at its core that it will be unenforceable, costly to business, drive a wedge between financial service institutions and their customers, and it won’t stop consumers from playing poker online. All it will accomplish is to ensure capital flight and public offerings on the London Exchange — and that’s money and jobs that could have, and should have, stayed at home if only we had a sensible policy of regulating online gaming rather than proposed legislation that seeks to banish it.

If that’s not bad enough, the hypocracy in Rep. Goodlatte’s bill is stunning. His legislation carves out exemptions for horse race wagering and a few other things, as if those forms of internet wagering were OK but playing poker online is somehow different.

Bad law that’s predicated on bad public policy and a complete misread of the public will smacks of egocentric elected officials who proposes to know what’s best for you, what’s best for me, and what’s best for anyone else who has a few discretionary dollars in his or her jeans and wants to play a little poker for fun and relaxation.

We don’t need this legislation, and we don’t need more governmental intrusion into our lives, and we don’t want to see the Feds start a policy of deputizing and mandating private companies to do their dirty work for them.

Mr. Goodlatte, the rumbling sound you hear is that of your fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson. He’s turning over in his grave at your intrusive and overbearing view of government’s responsibility and your complete disregard for our rights.

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