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).

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