Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Lincoln Pataki Debates

To be clear, I am not making reference to the Lincoln Douglas debates, as those were infamous historical political talks between two great speakers and political leaders.  I am referring to former political leaders Blanche Lincoln and George Pataki, who are actually on the same side of the issue in question, both being co-chairs for Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  And they didn’t debate each other, but were guests within a week on various conservative talk programs – Lincoln with Mike Huckabee on Fox TV, and Pataki with Michael Medved on his syndicated radio program, to talk about RAWA (Restore America’s Wire Act) and “the evils of online gambling.”

The debate is in how the CSIG decided to deal with the aftermath of each event, as it is very different indeed.

Lincoln’s appearance on Huckabee last Sunday (11/23) is pretty much known to all who read this blog, as is the blowback from the Poker Advocacy community (here, here, and here).  It was six minutes of drivel from a paid Adelson shill hosted by a guy who WANTS to be a paid Adelson shill.  Fear-mongering?  Lots.  Fact free?  You bet.  And it remains prominent on CSIG’s Facebook page and YouTube catalog, though it’s not as prominent as it was on their website (ever since we started to make fun of it).

Pataki’s participation on Hour Two of Medved’s show on 11/14 is…pretty much nowhere.  There was as much build up for it on CSIG’s Facebook page as with Lincoln’s TV appearance.  During Medved’s radio show they invited folks to call in and ask questions.  I mean CSIG did this via Facebook and Twitter, as this was the show’s format (we’re talking talk radio here folks).  And after the show…CSIG posted the old video ad of Pataki blasting “legalized online gambling” (yeah, that’s what he called it).  No mention of the radio appearance.  No podcast on Medved’s website that I can find.  Nada.  Zilch.

Why the difference?  Even though I didn’t hear Pataki, I can guess why.

His performance wasn’t the propaganda extravaganza that Lincoln/Huckabee was.  For one thing, it was radio, and that’s not as flashy as TV.  Second, it was a Q&A, and my guess is that there weren’t enough strong supporting statements to make into something they could re-bleat…I mean, repeat.  Perhaps there were some listeners critical of Pataki’s anti-online-gambling stance (many Libertarians listen to Medved and many are appalled at the anti-states-rights position RAWA’s supporters take). 

Hey, maybe they just erased all the tapes ala Rose Mary Woods.

On the other hand, Lincoln’s six minutes with Huckabee is EXACTLY what CSIG wants.  It’s propaganda they way they like to do it.  It had everything – children in peril, families hurt, organized crime and money laundering, and Lincoln mentioned “the economy” at least once each minute.  It had a host who might have been even MORE adamant about people getting on board this issue (Huckabee said that anyone in Congress who wasn’t a supporter should be thrown out of office – nice).  And there was no Q&A, or any challenge to any of the statements – just “rah rah rah” from Huckabee.

I watched Lincoln LIVE on the Huckabee program because I feared they’d do the same thing to her appearance as they did Pataki, and I wanted to see just what blather they were spreading (having been out of town when Pataki took to the airwaves).  I did a quick review about five minutes after it aired, and considered drafting a letter to Lincoln asking her to substantiate all of the claims she made on the program, starting with the “How big is this Internet Gaming with kids? – IT’S HUGE” declaration.  After all, if you know it’s huge, you should know what percentage of players online are minors, and how many families have had their credit cards stolen by their kids for this purpose, etc.  

Unless you’re making it up, of course.

Once they posted the show clip on YouTube, I even started a transcription of the show so I could quote her, word for word, but stopped after a minute or so (I have it below so you can read just how bad it was).  She really was breathlessly going on from topic to topic, trying to ensure that every potential bad evil horrible thing CSIG has ever considered got aired.  It was nauseating to try to keep up with the babble.

That’s why I was so very glad to see Nolan Dalla make his Open Challenge to Blanche Lincoln and the CSIG to a “real public debate” of the issue.  For starters, he’s got far more real poker chops than I (we’re both opinionated older guys, but that’s where the comparison ends, as people actually listen to him – and buy him drinks).  For another, he knows far more about both poker AND the folks on both OUR side and the other side of the issue.  If anyone could negotiate a real, fair debate on the issues of Internet Gaming, it’s Nolan.  But, like Nolan, I fear it’ll never happen, and for the same reasons he mentioned.  Sheldon and CSIG doesn’t want a debate.  Hell, they really don’t want a discussion at all unless they’ve got control of it.

Think about what happened this past year at actual government hearings about online gambling.  Anytime reps from Sheldon’s group made an appearance, it was embarrassing (for them) at best, with most of their comments frightfully unknowledgeable about the very issue they sought to ban.  They don’t know how things really work, and don’t care.  They’ve made up their minds, facts be damned. 

And that’s why they had their ass handled to them in these discussions, and why they never wish to debate.

Bet on it.

BONUS:  In case you missed it, Senator Lincoln was wearing the same outfit on the Huckabee program as she did in the CSIG ad she did a week before the show posted here.  They don’t miss a trick, do they? 

BONUS TWO:  The transcript of the first minute or so of her spot on Huckabee:
HUCKABEE: How big is this Internet Gaming with kids?LINCOLN: It’s huge, and it’s bad for our kids, it’s bad for our families, and it’s bad for our economy. Because it’s the marginalized…it’s the kids who don’t know what they are doing.  Y’know, kids have been playing video games forever.  Y’know my boys, my husband Steve and I, we worked hard to follow the guidelines for age-appropriate games, but the fact is they’re used to doing this, and so when they get on they don’t realize it sometimes, um, then, all of the sudden they grab a parent’s phone, they get into it, the credit card. There was a kid that, uh, a single Mom, he stole two of her credit cards, y’know, in a nano-second. Twenty thousand dollars worth of debt on a credit card.  I mean, that’s destroying our families, and opportunities that our kids might have, and we gotta do something about it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Part 3 – Don’t Carve, Don’t Cave

I had not planned this.  I am getting a bit tired of monitoring Sheldon’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  Yes, they have something to post to their Facebook page every day (sometimes three or four posts), but they repeat crap a lot, and frankly, it’s the same old shit tied up with a pretty new ribbon.  I thought that the previous two posts would be enough to lay out both my concerns and my evidence as to why CSIG and Adelson are misguided at best, totally bonkers at worst.  And with evidence that RAWA was dead for now, I really thought I was done.

Then more rumors this weekend about a brokered deal, although the evidence for such seems old and/or flimsy.  Then CSIG co-chair Blanche Lincoln was scheduled to be on the Mike Huckabee program on Fox, blathering about CSIG.  And Earl Burton penned a nifty piece about the need for a complete online gambling policy – not just online poker.

So here I am again with a story and a message.  The message is similar to Earl’s – in order for us to claim complete victory over those who would deny us the opportunity to play poker online safely, legally, we need to ensure that ALL forms of gambling are allowed.  This means no carve out for poker (as horse racing and Fantasy Sports currently enjoy). 

The story I’ve told before – how my Dad was a railbird, much like his own father.  How my Mom’s family looked at Dad’s activity with distain…even though they played cards (for money), enjoyed bingo (at the church), and generally took a very negative view on gambling of all kinds.  Well, yeah, except the ones THEY participated in (I have since learned that it’s highly likely my grandfather – Mom’s Dad – also played poker down at the Elks Club - not for matchsticks, of course).

Even as a kid, I recognized the arbitrary nature of their actions.  I don’t think I knew the word “hypocrisy” when I was seven, but I knew that by playing cards for money and at the same time chastising my Dad for betting the ponies was wrong.  How can one kind of gambling be OK, and another kind not be?

This is Adelson’s argument.  HIS kind of gambling is OK, fine, great, and wonderful.  That OTHER kind of gambling is bad, corrupt, dangerous, destroys families, etc. 

We in the poker community may feel that our game is different than blackjack, slots, craps, and other gambling games.  It is, but to the general public, to politicians, and to many others who gamble – it’s just another version of the same thing.  By calling for a carve out for poker and letting Adelson and his minions put the kibosh to other forms of gambling, we become him.  Hypocrites.

The situation already exists today – horse racing and fantasy sports are OK to wager online, but poker can’t be played for money.  We see no sense in this.  If we get a “carve out” for poker, craps players and blackjack fans will feel as we do now and rightly so (full disclosure – I do play blackjack, love craps, have an online account at a horse racing site, and…I play poker).

Gambling is gambling, whether poker, horse, slots, lotteries, or bingo.  Some of it is nothing but luck.  Some is skill and a little luck.  It’s ALL OK (in moderation, of course, as all things should be).  Deciding some is and some isn’t ain’t right.

PS:  One of the best slams against Adelson recently came not from the poker community, but from this op-ed in the Washington Times (a publication I will admit to not reading very often).  Still, my favorite lines:

He taxes our credulity even more by arguing that his opposition to Internet gambling pivots on his weeping concern for the young, the indigent, and alcohol and drug addicts. He suggests he is traumatized by the prospect that they will squander money online that they cannot afford to lose. In contrast, Mr. Adelson insinuates, his land-based casinos vet patrons for their financial ability to withstand gambling losses. Only a dunce would believe that (emphasis mine).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The CSIG Just Ain’t Right – Part 2

 In my role as “monitor” and Chief-Pain-in-the-Ass of Sheldon Adselson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling’s (CSIG) website and Facebook pages, I get to see the flotsam and jetsam that get discharged from that group.  From the four co-chairs (all former something or others, including some who were actively FOR some type of gambling at one time or another) comes a steady stream of blather that has Shakespearean qualities in that it’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In Part One I highlighted how believable the claims of CSIG were (not very).  While they are long on rhetoric, they’re short on actual facts (those pesky things).  What makes their arguments even more ridiculous is the hypocrisy of the whole thing.  I mean, you basically have a man who makes billions in the gaming industry trying to stop others from making money doing the exact same thing, only with a different delivery system

Adelson has spoken about how he saw gambling ruin his father and his family…so that’s EXACTLY the business he goes into?  And now he wants to “save” others from his fate (irk irk) by prohibiting online gambling?  Yes, ridiculous when you look at the large picture.  And even sillier when you look at the specific arguments CSIG makes in its claims against online gambling.  And unlike CSIG, I have examples, links, and pictures galore!

We left off in Part One talking about “the children.”  We’ve documented the many cases where Sheldon’s Bethlehem Sands in Pennsylvania has been fined for underage gamblers, but what about his flagship USA casino, the Venetian?  Seems to me, if you really wanted to keep kids out of your casinos, you’d do your best to not make your casino “family friendly.”  Do a search for “family friendly” and “Venetian Las Vegas” and guess who comes up on several “Top 10” lists?  C’mon, guess!  I presume having those canals, living statues, and all those other attractions cater to kids, too.  Who could have known?  And guess where the “The Playstation Experience” is next month.  Think of the children!
Another age group Adelson supposedly worries about is young college students.  He was concerned that they’d blow tuition on online gaming.  He never said anything about them blowing it at his casinos.  So making it very, very attractive to them would probably be a bad (hypocritical) thing, too.  Having a hot pool like Tao (with dope DJs and celebs like Paris, Kim, and even Justin Bieber), the Tao nightclub, and the Rockhouse bar: Rockhouse offers drinking games in the daytime and DJs at night, with a sexy bar staff that keeps the party going all the time.”  Yeah, lots of studying going on.  Goodbye, tuition, here comes a hot babe in a bikini and there’s a 21 table over there…

Finally, there’s the money laundering and “other nefarious activity” claim against online gaming.  One word:  Macau.  You know who has the biggest casino over there, don’t you (responsible for the lion’s share of his Sands Corporation profits)?  You can read all about the money laundering, corruption, junkets and more here, here, here, here, and here.  Oh, and Justin Beiber was here, too.

So to sum it up…just about every negative claim Adelson and his minions at CSIG have made about online gaming ALREADY EXISTS in land-based casinos, notably those owned by Adelson.  If he really, really, really cared as much as he claims, wouldn’t he take care of the issues in his own back yard first?

Yes.  Unless, of course, he’s a hypocrite.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The CSIG Just Ain’t Right – Part 1

I realize that I’m behind the curve and preaching to the saved and all that.  Yes, RAWA is dead for now (unless they sneak it in), and more conservative voices are speaking out against the cronyism move to grant long-time GOP supporter Sheldon Adelson his “due” by passing a bill that “restores America’s Wire Act” and puts the official kibosh on online gaming.

Still, my duty is to monitor the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling’s (CSIG) website and Facebook pages, and the rhetoric has been coming fast and furious of late.  So much so that it had me convinced that a RAWA strike was imminent during the lame duck session.  For once I was very glad to be very wrong.  Still, they keep posting and talking, and now have new video ads (highlighted by Steve Ruddock here).  And I ask myself: 
  • Are they saying anything new? (no)
  • Are they saying anything compelling…and believable?

Well, that’s what this post attempts to analyze.  Part Two will deal with the hypocrisy of their messages.  Here in Part One we will deal with the accuracy of their “usually fear-based” claims.

People can have opinions and be quite zealous about them.  Blindly so, sometimes.  It’s been often noted that Sheldon Adelson is very passionate about the subject of online gambling, and his minions in the CSIG seem to share that passion.  They all seem to have very strong opinions, and opinions of themselves can’t be “wrong,” but the facts supporting those opinions CAN be.

Take the oft-stated claim that allowing online gambling in the US would be like having 300 million individual casinos in the US.  CSIG touts this fear and also posts the latest numbers from Delaware Nevada, and New Jersey (with glee) when there are monthly declines in those states’ online revenues (they never post when numbers are up – can’t imagine why not).  The disappointing returns so far in these three states in 2014 would tend to show that the idea of 300 million individual casinos via our cell phones and tablets  is delusional at best.  Most Americans are too otherwise occupied or busy or just don’t care enough to go online and gamble.  Or, to put it another way – they just don’t give a shit.

One of the biggest fears that CSIG has utilized in their campaign is the potential for money laundering and other criminal activity through online gaming.  They use “bits and pieces” of an old FBI letter that does in fact state that there is the potential for same…just as there is potential in ANY activity where money is handled, including LAND BASED CASINOS.  They conveniently omit this from their scare-mongering.  This potential for “easy money laundering” used to be the strongest card in their hand, until James Thackston’s website showed how utterly ridiculous this was.  Remember the USA Today op-ed he penned with Former New York Gov. George Pataki? We might not know what hole Thackston escaped to, but Pataki is back on the CSIG website in a new video ad spouting the same nonsense.  Again, we’ve had almost a full year of online action on regulated sites in three states, and if there WAS any money laundering or other nefarious activity, you’d think CSIG would be all over that.  And so far?


Another oft-made claim – one that Adelson himself is most passionate about, was recently articulated by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (and I use the term “articulate” gingerly here) and former Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln in two more new video ads.  Brown, a former advocate for online poker, discusses how these groups “target” young people.  Lincoln knows land based casinos have regulations in place “to protect minors and promote responsible gambling.”  Yet she seems ignorant of same with online gambling, claiming these protections are simply “not available.”

Again, we’ve had a year of legal online gaming on regulated sites in three states.  Total number of reported minors caught online?  Less than the number caught at the Bethlehem Sands land-based casino in Pennsylvania (none reported so far, to be accurate).  Here’s another worry-based “claim” that has no basis in reality.

And what of Brown’s targeting claims?  I’ve repeatedly wondered why CSIG doesn’t show us any examples of how young people are targeted by online gaming.  Brown mentioned something about super-heroes and cartoon characters, but no real examples.  I assume he’s talking about characters like these guys:

And if that seems a bit hypocritical, it is, and that’s the biggest reason to take much of what comes from Adelson and CSIG with many, many grains of salt.  And we will discuss that hypocrisy next post. 

Your comments and snark are always welcome here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adelson’s Quack Attack?

As we head into what’s commonly referred to as the “Lame Duck” session of Congress, it appears that Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is racheting up their rhetoric.  There have been several rumblings about the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) getting a committee hearing, maybe even getting out of committee and coming to a vote in either the House or the Senate…or both.  More of the Coalition’s members are speaking up and out via radio, YouTube, and, of course, the Coalition’s websites.  The general feeling seems to be that all of Sheldon’s per$ua$ion is about to “pay off.”  But ask yourself this – does it really make sense to do all this NOW, rather than wait until the new (more Republican) Congress is seated, re-introducing RAWA, and having a go of it then?  There’s a slim-to-none chance of it passing this year (even the best scenario shows a potential Obama veto with no chance of a 2/3rds vote to override it). 

So why not wait?  

Here’s why - I think he’s taking the room’s temperature.  He knows he can make it “warmer.”  This is a smart move by Adelson

Face it – if the last election didn’t convince you, money talks.  And what Adelson has more of than just about anyone (‘cept maybe a dozen people in the world) is money.  And he knows how to use it, politically.

Just last week his right-hand man Andy Abboud  was asked how much money Sheldon pumped into the off-year election cycle…and, of course, Andy said he’d never tell.  And he doesn’t have to – the new regulations don’t require disclosure, and it’s no secret that millions…maybe billions…get spent in these “dark money” campaigns.  In Florida, it was Sheldon’s moolah fighting against medicinal marijuana, and he won (even though the YES campaign got 58% of the vote, 60% was needed).

Even though the new Congress will be in Republican control, that fact alone doesn’t lend itself to defining or defending this issue.  Many in the GOP can’t agree on the question.  One op-ed in The Hill called for “more consistency” from those who advocate for RAWA and “states-rights” at the same time, and another conservative publication cited similar problems with the whole idea of RAWA:
First, it is considered bad government to so blatantly do the bidding of a contributor. Second, members committed to federalism see states making their own laws and regulation of online gambling and do not want to feds to tamper with the states with Soviet-style bans issued from Washington. Finally, the more libertarian members are uncomfortable with the federal government directly lifestyle and recreation choices.

I just LOVE the first argument.  But face it – since when does Congress care how it looks?  And seriously, how much does the public care how craven they are?  We give ‘em an 11% approval rating, and then re-elect 96% of the bastards.  Perhaps we deserve it?

Anyway, here’s how I see it going down.  By getting some action NOW on RAWA, Adelson could see where his support was strong, and where, with some per$ua$ion, he could get enough support to make RAWA a real possibility.  Perhaps offer a concession to poker players and add another carve-out?  That buys a few more votes.  Offer $omething $weeter?  That buys a few more.  And you know certain politicians (as in most) can be bought.

How much money could Adelson spend to get something like RAWA passed into law?  He said it himself – whatever it takes.

And he has what it takes, money-wise.

Those of us who consider ourselves poker advocates realize the seriousness of Adelson’s position. It’s a real threat, and how it plays out in the next few weeks might tell us more about how it will play out in 2015.  It might embolden Congress to pass other legislation to "pay back" or "reward" their financial supporters.

I fear America will see the new way a “bill becomes law,” as that bill gets the $upport of other bills, mostly fifties and hundreds.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Misleading and Stupid – or Deviously Brilliant?

As many of you know, I fill my free time by being the thorn in Sheldon Adelson’s anti-online-gaming hide.  His Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has a website, which is pretty straightforward and exactly what you’d expect (and fairly boring), but the Facebook page is something else.  It attempts what all Facebook pages attempt – it is trying to get laid.  No, wait, what I meant to say is that it is trying to be engaging and up-to-date and nudging folks to action.

How they do this is
  • They post stuff which has nothing to do with online gambling, but “sounds” or “feels” like it.
  • They post items about NON-REGULATED gaming sites and “Internet cafes” which have about as much in common with regulated sites in NJ, NV, and DE as I do with Kim Kardashian’s ass.
  • They post month reports from New Jersey and Nevada showing disappointing numbers on online gambling and poker…but fail to do so when the numbers look good.
  • The post insipid videos of poorly made ads and talking heads like Wellington Webb and Blanche Lincoln which make outlandish claims about how online gaming’s “cheap marketing tactics” prey on the unfortunate “young, the poor, and the elderly.”  And never  offer any examples (or show how these tactics differ from land-based casinos like, say, the Venetian).
  • They post these items several times, over and over, as if they can’t get any better information out there.

One such recent post was on November 7, when they postedA satirical look at how online gaming companies use cheap marketing tactics to trick young children and adults into spending money.”  It was a clip from the South Park cartoon show entitled “Freemium Isn’t Free,” One such recent post was on November 7, when they posted, “A satirical look at how online gaming companies use cheap marketing tactics to trick young children and adults into spending money.”  It was a clip from the South Park cartoon show entitled “Freemium Isn’t Free,” described as, “Stan is addicted to the new Terrance and Phillip mobile game.”  The Wikipedia site for the show describes it a bit better: “The episode lampoons the popularity of freemium mobile apps and links them to other addictions, including alcohol and gambling, and their possible genetic predisposition.”  By luck, the repeat of this show was on Comedy Central last night, so despite being not of this program’s target demo, I watched (another good review of the show is here).

The game Stan plays isn’t a gambling game, of course – it’s a social media game along the lines of Candy Crush, Farmville, etc. (except, as you could expect a game featuring the popular fart-loving duo, it’s pretty stupid).  Stupid or not, Stan pays money to get more features in the game (equally dumb), and his dad Randy blows his stack. Randy thinks he has inherited his father’s addiction genes (Stan’s grandpa spends all of his time at the land-casino’s slot machines), and is convinced this is why Stan can’t control his urges.  When confronted by his own “problems” with alcohol, Randy claims he has no addiction issues because all he drinks now is gluten-free beer and wine – and that’s being health conscious (he has further excuses throughout the show).  Near the end of the program Stan summons Satan, who, in hilariously casual fashion, explained how dopamine affects the human body to him. ("It's not f***in' rocket science, this stuff."). 
It turns out the game was introduced by the Canadian Minister of Mobile Gaming who turned out to be, in reality, the Canadian Devil, and he and Satan battle, and it ends predictably enough.  Not important, really.

What IS important is the fact that CSIG felt this was somehow crucial to their cause, to draw one’s attention to the “fact” that kids can get “addicted” to games and they can foolishly spend their parent’s money (though neither the program nor CSIG ever explain how, exactly, Stan was able to charge $2,000+ dollars of game crap so seemingly easily).  Even though there was NOTHING remotely close to what happens in a real, regulated, online gambling portal.  And worse…the program wasn’t about addiction so much as it was about HYPOCRISY.

Yup, that’s right.  All the time Randy was stressed about Stan’s game addiction and his grandpa’s slot habits, Randy was drinking (but he wasn’t addicted, as he explained that he was merely being classy having six wines and beers together in a “tasting”).  Of course, by the end of the show Randy was drinking wine from a large Loving Cup trophy (which…well, I missed the excuse I was laughing so hard).  And as Stan and his grandpa played a board game so that they’d avoid their own demons, Randy was wondering if they should “put some money on it.”

Of course, Adelson is no stranger to being a hypocrite, so maybe the program has some subtle charm for him in that way.

Now I realize the real battle isn’t being fought online.  Sheldon’s big gun$ are aimed at Wa$hington, at the $tate capital$, and at the major deci$ion maker$.  He’s already made the AGA piss its collective self.  He’s hired FIVE lobbying firms to make his case.  He’s got plenty of current and former Congresspeople ready and eager to do his bidding (no pun intended this time).  But he paid good money for a website and the people to run it – and THIS is the BEST they can do?

Maybe this IS the strategy?  Act dumb online, to prove that the Internet makes you stupid and vulnerable.  Ya think?  Comments, please!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Net Neutrality and Online Poker – Why It Matters

The Verizon edition of the game, I think...
I have been putting off writing a post about the elections, for a variety of reasons.  I got back from
vacation a few days after the event went down (I voted by mail long before I left, so yes, I did my duty).  I kinda knew how it was gonna go down – no real surprises (Dems had a very slim chance in holding the Senate, and my state – Oregon – is still pretty blue).  Oh, and a good number of state-based progressive initiatives succeeded (pot, minimum wage, defeat of “person-hood” amendments), so I had nothing to bark about except the process itself, which has been dealt with by others more politically bent than I.

And with the final table of the World Series of Poker on tap for the first two days of the week, I knew that fellow online-poker-advocates would be lax in attention (not to mention tired as hell if the event lasted as long as it did last year).  But something happened on Monday that made a political/election/poker post a sure thing…”Net Neutrality” was back in the news again.

For those unfamiliar with the subject, a good, mostly-unbiased primer can be had here.  Monday’s news – Obama reaffirming his support of neutrality with a call to relabel the Internet a “utility” and Ted Cruz’s “Obamacare for the Internet” rejoinder – once again brings our attention to how Washington REALLY works.  I don’t mean everything Obama supports the GOP distains…Net Neutrality is something that most Americans support, from left AND right.  This, like re-establishing online poker, isn’t a left/right thing.

It’s a money thing.  That’s how Washington works nowadays.

Yes, 90%+ of incumbents win re-election.  More importantly, when there is no incumbent, the candidate who spends more is 80% more likely to win.  Money talks.
Average middle-class Americans have little voice in the political process, except the potential of asking one question at a campaign tally or town hall meeting with their representative.  Rich folks buy $1,000-per-plate dinners and gab at length with their rep. Money talks.  Richer folks still help write new legislation for their reps while handling out campaign contributions, and making still more “dark” contributions to various nefarious political action groups.  Money talks.  The U.S. Congress is the world’s most exclusive “millionaires club,” with more than half of Senators and Representatives worth more than a million bucks.  Money talks.

Sheldon Adelson.  Money talks.

Net Neutrality is all about money, and its implications for online poker, besides the obvious (online poker uses the Internet – duh), are enormous.  I’m no techy, but considering that part of the debate centers on bandwidth and usage, I would have to assume that interactive software like a poker room (and multi-tabling at that) might take up some considerable width.  If big users get charged more, couldn’t that make online poker less profitable, ergo less desirable, ergo less likely to see re-established?  Just askin’ is all.

And if there are to be “Guardians of the Internet” (called Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast), what is to stop them from making decisions as to who goes on which tier based on considerations having nothing to do with band usage?  Sure, they debate rests there for now, but say someone like, oh…Sheldon Adelson decides to invest in Comcast, and say they decide that it’s not really censorship but consumer protection to divest their Internet tubes of pornography, medical marijuana dispensary information, and online gaming websites?  I know this is hypothetical and a bit far-fetched, because to my knowledge Adelson doesn’t have anything against pornography.

This issue is important, not just for online poker folks, but all Americans.  It’s as fine of an example as any where the will of the people is seemingly thwarted by the desire of a few LARGE multi-corporations.  And what is their desire?

Money.  Pure and simple. Talking LOUD.