I’ve been meaning to write about this ever since I heard it was on the political agenda a few months ago. Last week I was listening to the Al Roney radio show on WGY out of Albany, NY, which is local to me. He was discussing the internet gambling ban, so I rifled off a quick email to him with some thoughts, which he read on the air. If ever there was a subject which shows how hypocritical politicians are on both sides of the aisle, this is it. This bill is a farce, and probably does more harm than good. Many people are skeptical about it and think it’s because the government can’t get it’s hands on this money. Unfortunately it is far worse than that. Forget about whether you are for or against gambling. That really has nothing to do about this bill. In fact, even if you are completely against gambling, this is just wrong.
They tell you they are doing this to protect people from losing their money. Why then do they offer you up lotteries, casinos and the like? A fortune was bet on sports and poker long before the internet was even an idea. I don’t think there are many men out there who haven’t played a game of poker or bet on a football game. I don’t think there would be a revolt if these forms of gambling were legal. So why aren’t they? Why lotteries and slot machines?
Anyone who is familiar at all with gambling knows that the lottory and slot machines present the largest possible disadvantage to the gambler. Not many people win the lottery and they don’t call the slots “one-armed bandits” for nothing. Poker and sports, on the other hand, offer about the best odds around to gamblers. Not only that, but those are games of skill with a low house cut which rewards those who do their homework. There really are plenty of people who actually consistently make a profit on those games. In other words, you get a lot more entertainment and lose less money. How much entertainment do you get on a lottery ticket? What’s that, about thirty seconds? About as long as it normally takes to lose a buck in a quarter slot machine. You get about 3 hours of entertainment on a football game. If you hit 53% of football wagers you will actually show a long term profit. In poker you just need to be better than the person(s) you’re playing. Those are odds our fine government want to protect you from.
There are two things that work against a gambler. House edge and addiction. Obviously being addicted to gambling is very destructive, but again that has little to do with this particular issue. The truth is, most people are addicted to something. Shopping, eating, television… You name it. If you have 50 pairs of shoes in your closet you have a bit of a problem. If you consider it part of your entertainment budget and are able to stay within that budget, then I guess it’s all about the same. No better, no worse. But don’t believe these guys when they tell you they are trying to protect people from themselves. They are trying to get people out where they can more easily be separated from their money. Thanks for the protection.
Horse racing is kind of in the middle when it comes to the house advantage. I imagine the politicians would ban that if it weren’t so well established. You’re seeing a lot of racetracks being allowed to put in slot/video gaming machines to up the profits for everybody, except the average fan. Not only that, but it’s like waving crack cocaine in the face of someone who may already be suseptable to having a drug problem. Again, thanks for your protection.
Some politicians are consistent in opposing gambling, but why pat yourself on the back for a bill that does the citizens no good? Why sign it? This was easy to push through because the online gaming industry doesn’t really have lobbyists in this country, with the exception of some online poker organizations and such. Small fry compared to most industries. The big lobbyists belong to the casinos who are in competition for the internet money. This is a bill that makes it look like they are doing something, when in fact it is the utmost of hypocrisy. Even those who are truly against gambling should have voted against it on the basis of the points I have mentioned. Not many did. Not to mention the fact that they slipped it in on the back of the controversial Safe Port Act. That kept the issue from receiving the proper debate. Does the end justify the means? In this case the end is worse than the beginning.
An interesting point was brought up on the radio show that I hadn’t thought of. There are some people who are disabled who don’t really even have the option to go out to the casinos and give away their money that way. It takes away their ability to pursue a gambling hobby which is, in many forms perfectly legal. I guess it frees up their internet time for other legal pastimes, such as surfing porno. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of that.
They can’t keep spammers and perverts from emailing porn to children, but they can keep Grandma from playing a hand of online poker. They can’t stop illegals and potential terrorists from entering the country, but they can keep a dollar from leaving it. They leave it up to a corrupt and inept U.N. to deal with mass murderers building nuclear weapons, but at least they were able to do something about putting unemployed bookies back in business. When you really start to think about it, it’s scary just how incompetent, hypocritical and deceptive so many of our so-called “leaders” are.
Don’t let them convince you that any of this ties in with terrorists moving money around. Most of the large online sportsbooks are worldwide publicly traded companies and could probably aid in catching these guys. It wouldn’t be that hard to track those who make huge deposits and withdrawals and are not actually gambling with the money. We do still want to catch these guys, don’t we? It’s in the best interests of these gaming companies to cooperate, since they stand to lose a lot of business with the new laws. Not to mention that this doesn’t stop foreign terrorists from dealing with these companies. It’s just another example of using a phony excuse to cover up their real motives.
How is it that the government can order banks to not allow people to use certain companies and can order internet providers to block gambling sites from it’s adult customers, but they can’t stop Google from aiding China in censoring and oppressing its citizens? Google helps China’s government by censoring freedom and anti-government related material from the people. So much for “don’t be evil.” China has a human rights record which includes routinely imprisoning and torturing those who speak out against the government. I wonder what we will be censored from in the future? So what’s worse, oppressing millions of innocent people or a hand of poker? Pornography for children or a friendly wager on a football game? We know where the government’s priorities lie. Now you know why.
“It seeks to protect our children from gambling sites at home, keep our hard-earned money in the bank, and put the criminals that seek to take advantage of our family earnings in jail.”
— House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) (note: to make room for the non-criminals that seek to take advantage of our family earnings?)
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), lobbied to remove exemptions for horse racing and state lotteries, saying the bill is unfair because it shields those industries while banning sports betting, casino games and card games.
“They call it a prohibition. It’s really Congress picking winners and losers.”
— Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance
I guess this is as good a place as any for my Super Bowl prediction:
~Seattle Seahawks~ over the San Diego Chargers
Put the ranch on it. I mean, this prediction is for entertainment only. Ties and mismatches do not count;)