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February 10, 2007

Annie Duke takes a stand!

The following was found at Ultimate Bet.com where Annie Duke is a sponsored pro player. Let me say, that I believe Annie Duke is one of the most articulate pro's on the circuit, and an outstanding spokesperson for the game of poker. I'm not Ultimate Bet's staunchest supporter, but they have Annie!


Dear Annie:

I am an avid poker player that has to curtail my desires to play brick and mortar games by playing online, The casinos are too far away and having 4 kids makes it difficult to take the 'short' vacations I would like to Las Vegas.

With the introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act it is becoming more and more difficult to play poker online. What is your stance on this piece of legislation? Assuming you are against it, what are you doing to get it changed. What would you recommend others do? Since you are 'in the biz' what do you see other professional poker players doing about this bill or does it mainly effect the non-professional players like myself?


Hi Ron--

Well I love your question. I am very much against the bill as it relates to poker and any other game of skill. I have several issues with the bill. First, it allows for betting on State Lotteries and Horse Racing online. This is very hypocritical in my view as State Lotteries are a) clearly a game that has no skill and b) a regressive tax. I can overflow the Capitol building with people who make their living playing poker and yet I would be unable to find one person (who is not cheating) who makes their living playing lotteries. As for the regressive tax part, we all know that it is mainly lower income people who play the lotteries. That money is used to fun state programs and that money is coming from the poorer segment of the population. I have a big problem with that.

Of course, the States argue that lotteries generate billions of dollars for education. But if you taxed online poker the PPA has estimated that revenue would be over 3 billion. That would fund the Port Security Act to which the bill was attached. Or the money could go to education, raising teachers' salaries, expanding police forces, whatever the state wanted it for. So that argument is specious since it only applies if the government chooses not to regulate online poker.

Another huge problem I have with the Law has to do with censorship and prohibition. Anytime the government tells us what we, as consenting adults, can do with our discretionary income we are treading dangerous ground. The authors of the bill argue that 5% of the population have an issue with gaming online. Well I will not argue with that statistic. But, rather, I will point out that 5% of the population also has a problem with online shopping. 5% of the population has a problem with online stock trading. 5% of the population has a problem with alcohol. This is because the numbers of people who have addiction issues in our population is around 5%.

We tried once to sacrifice the majorities freedom of choice to protect a small minority who had a problem. It was called Prohibition. What prohibition brought us was tommy guns and Al Capone. Before prohibition, the population was deliverd a safe and regulated product. During prohibition, demand was still the same and now people were delivered an unregulated prodcut brewed out of backyard stills that were often unsafe. It brought violence and more problems than it solved and we should have learned our lesson from that.

If we allow the goverment to erode our freedom and censor what we do with our own free time and our own disposable income in the privacy of our own homes, what is next? Is the government going to tell the banks to monitor our online shopping too? If we want to buy that third pair of shoes online that week is the bank going to deny our ability to transfer money onto ShopBop.com? Censorship is dangerous ground to tread. We have proven that in the past. Remeber when Mark Twain was banned from some libraries in the country?

The current administration has created an atmosphere of fear. And they have used that fear to further and further erode our personal freedoms and degrade the spirit of our Constitution. Benjamin Franklin warned that in times of heightened fear we must not give in to a government who claims that to keep the population safe that its people must give up certain personal freedom. Franklin knew that that only led to a more unsafe population where the people were in danger from its own government rather than an outside threat. It is why The Constituation is so clear on right to privacy. I believe our Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about.

As for what I am doing about it, as soon as the bill was passed I went on a media tour for the PPA, http://www.pokerplayersalliance.org/ They are doing amazing work lobbying the lawmakers on Capitol Hill and I think they are really making a difference. If you want your voice to be heard on this issue, please join that organization. And let your voice be heard with your vote in the next election.


Posted by fatbill at February 10, 2007 01:27 PM


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