The federal government robbed two million American citizens out of a pleasurable hobby -- Internet gambling -- on April 15, 2006 -- when it shut down Internet gambling.
While many of those citizens played poker for recreation, others were good enough at poker to earn a living at the game. I was an Internet poker player for a couple of years and enjoyed the on-line action. And then on a day infamously known as Black Friday, my own government robbed me of that pleasure by tacking the Internet gambling bill on the back of another law.
Most of the Senators who voted on the law didn't even know what they were voting for, by the way. They didn't read the harbor bill that the legislation was attached to -- they just voted and the bill passed.
That happened 10 years ago. Most citizens and many of us poker players assumed the feds shut down Internet gambling because they want the government to be able to collect taxes on the betting. That's fine. The question is, why hasn't Internet gambling been restored by the same government that made it illegal and that passed other laws designed to keep funds from being transferred and paid to the winners?
If this isn't evidence that the federal government has grown too big, I don't know what is.
Some veteran lawmakers have tried to correct what the federal government did. Sen. Barney Frank, for example, introduced legislation that would have restored Internet poker and other gambling games to the Internet. So far, the proposed law has gone nowhere. The feds broke it and now they don't seem to know how to fix it.
I grew up in America believing we had a government that responds to the will of the people. But after Black Friday, I am wondering if this is true.
Gambling, especially poker, is a victimless crime. Poker isn't really gambling, by the way. It's a skill game like golf or tennis, with the spoils going to the skilled.. In other words, people play poker because they enjoy the game, win or lose.
Right now, America is in the middle of a Presidential election. The candidates who are running for office are claiming to represent the wishes of the people. If this is so, why don't they address something like a federal action that destroyed a multi-billion dollar industry and robbed two million U.S. citizens of the pleasures of playing poker on-line? Why don't they admit the federal government screwed up and allow Internet gambling to conytinue? Surely they can figure out a fair way to assess federal taxes and allow the taxpayers of this country to have their way?
That's the theory. The reality is that a healthy industry was decapitated overnight by a stealth attack by the feds against their own citizens. I hope the new president realizes these facts and does something about it when he steps into the Oval Office. The American people deserve better from their government.