Even though gambling in some form has been with the human race since…well, since the human race began, and even though there is some form of gambling that’s legal almost everywhere in the U.S. (only Utah and Hawaii have no form of legal gambling), there are some who object to gambling, and specifically poker, on “moral grounds.” Now I am taking a bit of liberty in using that term in this post, but I can’t think of another term to use other than morality. But I think it’s not moral to do so, because it’s a misuse of the term.
OK, let’s start with the ol’ dictionary definition: Morality - conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct. OK, keep this in mind.
My ire today was redirected at the current political platforms as spelled out in this year’s national conventions. The GOP went so far as to title part of their platform “making the Internet Family-Friendly” (that’s a moral statement, isn’t it?). It calls for a reversal of a recent DOJ decision on the 1961 Interstate Wire Act, and says,
"Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department's decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting."
So what’s wrong with this?
Well, the “door” to “Internet betting” has been open for so long it’s hard to remember when it was closed. I’ve been able to make horse race wagers (ain’t that gambling?) on the Internet since the middle 90s. Why say one form of gambling is legal online, and another isn’t? Better yet, why say one form of gambling is legal one way (live) but illegal another (online)? Conformity is missing here.
And if some Americans suffer from problem gambling, why eliminate it for everyone? Taking this same argument further - many Americans are overweight, so we should eliminate takeout food and delivery service. Or we should shut down all restaurants that serve fattening foods (uh-oh, I’m out of work).
Many Americans can’t hold their liquor, and drunk driving is a problem. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are on the rise, so, let’s prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. Oh, wait…tried that.
What is so virtuous about not allowing people to do something they enjoy when it doesn’t hurt anyone? I don’t get that.
I always tend to see conformity as consistency, and that’s my problem with many people who try to hold onto a position. They’re not consistent. I really don’t mean to make the comparison of poker to abortion, but I’ll tell you a story that illustrates the lack of consistency and let you draw conclusions.
A number of years ago I argued with a co-worker about abortion. She felt very strongly about this, and felt that abortion was wrong, a sin, evil, you name it - abortion had no place in a civil society.
“So you’re against all abortions, no matter what.” I said. “Even in cases of rape or if the mother is endangered?”
“Well, no, I don’t think a young girl who’s been raped should have to have the baby,” she replied.
“What about the endangerment of the mother?”
“Well, I’m not sure about that. I guess it depends. But I am pro-life. All life is precious.”
“Are you against the death penalty, too?”
“No, I’m not. That’s different, and don’t try to change the subject. I only want to stop seeing so many abortions. They’re so wrong, and I feel so bad for all those innocent…”
“So reducing the number of abortions is your goal. Is that right?” I asked.
“So you’re in favor of sex education in the schools so more kids don’t get pregnant in the first place, right.”
“Absolutely NOT.”See? Consistency. Or lack thereof.
If you’re going to argue against online gambling, find another approach other than the weaker-than-hell morality angle. That dog will not hunt worth a damn.