On Friday April 15, 2011, the federal government shut down online poker in the United States. This move outraged millions of Americans who enjoyed online poker as not only a past time but also a source of income. The whole thing infuriates me. I wish I could sit down and talk to those people who made this decision. Here are ten questions I’d ask the U.S. government about its decision to shut down online poker.
1. You don’t like money?
Online poker is a multibillion-dollar industry. You could have regulated online poker and taken a cut of the action. In fact, casinos in the U.S. are ready to offer online poker. All you had to do was say “yes”. The additional revenue would have been practically free for you. You must not like money.
2. Why don’t you stop the gambling going on in the stock market?
Online stock trading has been going on since 1983. Yet you let that continue. Some people trade stocks based on a hunch. Talk about a gamble! At least in poker you have some concrete information to work with. Unlike in the stock market, past performance in poker can guarantee future results. There is skill involved. But you killed poker and left us with the sucker bet?
3. Will you stop me from going to the casino too?
I live one block from a legal poker room. I can spend just as much time playing poker there as I can online. Will you prevent me from playing there too? You argue that underage gambling occurs online. By the way, people like Phil Ivey have been sneaking into casinos for years.
4. You don’t want businesses to thrive?
Since 2003, the number of participants in the World Series of Poker increased tenfold. Online poker players drove this explosion of new players. The poker industry boomed in the United States, both online and in-person. People flocked to the casinos; I remember having to wait hours to get a poker table. By stopping online poker, you killed the industry.
5. If poker is so evil, why don’t you shut down President Obama’s home game?
Before you look after us, you should look yourselves in the mirror. I bet the President still plays poker.
6. People are dying in wars, so why don’t you stop that?
The online poker boom started in 2003. That same year, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Soldiers have been dying in Iraq ever since, yet you chose to go after online poker. Less people have died playing cards. Let’s not forget the illegal guns and drugs that run rampant across the country. Maybe you should concentrate on those issues first?
7. Why not let us take on the world at poker?
Since 2000, more Americans won the Worlds Series of Poker than any other nationality. Apparently, we are pretty good at poker. Why not let us take on the world?
8. How exactly have you helped me?
For most people, poker is a pastime. People play it to have fun and relieve stress. There are also professionals who play poker for a living. You have effectively cut us off from poker in one swift motion. Please tell me how I am benefiting from this.
9. Is this really financial protection?
Are you protecting us from losing money? Do you really have our financial interests at heart? Well why didn’t you protect us from the Enron Corporation, the subprime mortgage crisis and Bernie Madoff? That all happened on our own soil. Besides, professional poker players are pretty good at managing their own money. That’s a skill that all pros develop. I don’t think I want help from someone who barely avoided a full government shutdown on April 9, 2011.
10. Did you suffer a bad beat?
Did your four kings lose to four aces? Are you tilting? This is probably the only way I can make sense of what you have done. You are clearly not on your “A” game.
I am a big fan of online poker. It’s played all over the world. But now it’s no longer played in the greatest country in the world and I don’t understand why. I hope it returns soon.
More from Edwin:
The rise and fall of online poker in the United States