Online poker is currently illegal in the United States. Efforts are being made to regulate the game both at state and federal levels, but nothing substantial has yet been pushed towards legislation.
There are many parallels between the ban on online poker and the years of Prohibition in the 1920s. Business has been diverted from legitimate operations to underground and/or foreign operators. Instead of protecting consumers, government actions have infringed on the rights of citizens to decide what to do in the privacy of their homes and how to interact with society.
In both cases, the bans became increasingly unpopular and advocates of change emphasized that repeal would generate enormous amounts of much needed tax revenue.
Former Senator and poker advocate Alphonse D’Amato told the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade last month, “The problem that we have now seems to me very parallel to what we had in Prohibition. Billions of dollars that today flow across our borders and onto offshore websites could be kept here… yielding billions of dollars in revenue for the federal government, all without having to raise taxes.”
“We’re well behind the rest of the world,” said D’Amato. “If we do nothing, [the problem] will grow and we will have no opportunity to fix it.”
Advocates of legalizing online poker in the United States argue that not only would the move generate income through taxation, it would also create jobs in the U.S.
Working within the law, regulators would be able to prevent gambling abuse, money laundering, and underage gambling.
D’Amato, speaking on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance, concluded his testimony to Congress by stating, “For over a century, poker has been a reflection of America’s entrepreneurial and competitive spirit and has been a positive ambassador of our culture throughout the globe. Over the years, the way people play the game has changed and, like other recreational activities, more and more are turning to the Internet to enjoy this pastime.
“I urge this committee and this Congress to swiftly enact federal policy that ensures American consumers have a safe and secure marketplace in which to play this game of skill over the Internet.”