Phone Call From Howard Lederer

I got a phone call from Howard Lederer today asking me to vote for Harry Reid, the incumbent Democrat Senator in Nevada. Well, it wasn’t really a phone call directly from Howard, it was one of those prerecorded messages.

Howard went on to say that Harry Reid is a “friend” to online poker and that I should vote for him. He pledges that Harry will fight for my right to be able to play online poker.

Since I’ve been out of Nevada for the past two weeks, I’ve been a little bit out of touch with the race there. After a quick Google search and a perusal of Rasmussen Reports, it looks like Sharron Angle actually has a 4 point lead there now. While those polls aren’t 100% accurate, it looks like the Majority Leader has a lot to be worried about.

Personally, I don’t like either of the candidates. I also don’t miss their hate ads or other tactics. Don’t get me wrong, the ads in California haven’t been any better, and I’m equally unimpressed with the candidates out here. I do have to give props to the Brown camp for coming up with the two best political ads I’ve seen in a long time though.

Anyway, I’m kind of getting off topic of the phone call, which I’ve been digesting for the past few hours. I just can’t imagine that someone cares about online poker enough to sway their decision on who to vote for based solely on that. I would think the general public has bigger issues to worry about than online poker. Things like education, taxes, unemployment, environment, budget, etc.

I’m also not sure the online poker rooms know exactly what they are getting themselves into – it’s almost like a case of “be careful what you ask for” to me. Howard Lederer’s company, Full Tilt Poker, is the second largest online poker room right now. I don’t see a situation where any type of legislation passes and that remains the case. The way I see legislation happening is by granting licenses only to companies that the US government feels are legitimate. Certainly not to ones who have been thumbing their nose at the Justice Department all these years. While I don’t think Full Tilt Poker has been doing anything wrong the past several years, they are walking on a very thin line. I see companies like MGM, Harrah’s, Wynn, etc getting licenses. Not companies like Full Tilt Poker. Furthermore, the legislation that Barney Frank put forth earlier this year wouldn’t even allow a company like MGM the ability to even purchase FTP.

The entire situation regarding online poker, and the legality of it really pisses me off to begin with. For those of you who don’t know, the Republicans forced a law though at the end of the 2006 Congressional session by attaching it onto the Safe Port Act. The law became known as the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, or UIGEA for short. What does online poker have to do with protecting our ports you may ask? Nothing. This is how our political system works and one of the major reasons I generally despise politics.

It gets even worse though. The guy behind the legislation, Bill Frist, said that gambling is the root of all evil and tears at the fabric of society. He sights religious reasons for his position, one of the many times religious views infiltrate our political system. Of course he made a nice little carve out for lotteries and horse racing. Apparently those forms of gambling are just fine since they provide revenues for his state. Can you say hypocrite? It’s the equivalent to these guys who preach about how horrible gays are and then get caught having a gay relationship.

The UIGEA is another example of passing a law based solely on jealously. It was a matter of people making a whole bunch of money and the US government not being able to tax it. Lawmakers didn’t really give a crap about protecting the common citizen from online poker, they cared about protecting the treasury. This comes in an industry that begs to be taxed so it can be completely legal. This comes in an industry that is legal in just about the rest of the free world. Multi-billion dollar online gaming companies trade on the London Stock Exchange. The WTO even ruled against the USA for unfair practices regarding the UIGEA, but just ignored the WTO ruling.

Of course, like most legislation like this, it didn’t actually protect anyone. It didn’t really stop anyone from playing online poker (aside from a few recreational players). It didn’t do anything it set out to accomplish. Way to go USA!

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