Poker Can Help the Economy

I got a note today from the Poker Player’s Alliance (of which I am a member), urging me to support legalization of online poker on Change.gov, the website that Obama’s administration is using to take the pulse of the American public on issues relating to government.

Okay, before anyone jumps on me for having my priorities out of whack, yes, I do think there are much higher priorities than legalizing online poker, namely ending the war in Iraq, closing Guantanamo Bay, fixing a drastically broken health care system, and bolstering an economy that’s currently flying without a net. However, legalizing and regulating online poker could conceivably have a positive effect on the economy.

Here’s what I had to say in the topic contents at Change.gov:

As an accomplished poker player himself, I hope that President Obama recognizes that online poker is more a game of skill than a game of luck, and that legalizing and regulating online poker is just one more way that people can infuse money into the flagging economy. Millions of Americans play online poker already, and the money that could be made from taxing those online games is a staggering amount.

As I write this on a Wednesday afternoon, just one of the online poker sites is hosting nearly 175,000 people on over 42,000 virtual tables. Imagine if those 42,000 tables were hosted by an American company and taxed at $1 (for round numbers), along with any other tables that are generated on that site each day. Then consider that numerous American companies would be in this business space and the number of Americans playing online poker would easily increase with the repeal of the UIGEA, and it’s easy to see how regulation and taxation of online poker could generate millions of dollars *per day* to benefit the economy.

Or, we could keep the current system, continue to force banks to reject transactions that they could be making money on, continue to stigmatize skillful online poker players while honoring much more random Internet gambling systems, and continue to encourage an offshore shadow industry with no oversight.

Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Poker Can Help the Economy

  1. I think “flying without a net” is an overmild description of the current economy.

    The net was sold of years ago, acrobats are lying in heaps on the ground, the elephants are dying, and there are ominous creaking sounds coming from the pole that holds up the big tent.

    While there’s not much to be done for the elephants (and wasn’t it a little foolish and cruel to keep them around anyway?), the acrobats will recover. Most importantly, the new ringmaster seems to have a clue, and the audience seems willing to stick around and give him a chance – even the ones in the red hats.

    The real question is if that big ol’ pole has suffered too much neglect for too long.

    Given all of that sure: I’m for legalizing poker. It’s one of those victimless Puritanical crimes. People should be allowed to go to Hell in the handbasket of their choosing.

    The problem is in the transition. You’ll see more than a few casualties in the stampede from the forbidden to the banal. That will demand additional oversight, at a time when there are already heavy demands on the law enforcement community. So maybe right now isn’t exactly the right time, but definitely put it on the agenda for discussion.

    IMHO

  2. Nice metaphor. I like it. I also agree with what you said about the transition, with a slight alteration.

    In my admittedly imperfect vision, the law enforcement community would not be the ones performing the oversight. Legitimate online sites already have it in their best interest to prevent underage citizens from playing real money games and prevent people from using stolen credit cards to make deposits, so they have the controls in place. The reputable sites basically police themselves out of necessity. The oversight would come in the form of a gaming commission that would have access to the sites’ logs.

  3. Despite the economic turmoil, the online gambling industry remains to be steadfast and least bothered.
    A constant growth in online users. Gambling is a habit-forming activity, so even as the household budget tightens, gambling can carry on. With faster broadband speed available in many countries, new market segments are opened as an increment to this prolific online gaming arena.

  4. Poker could definately help the economy crisis if it were entirely legal in the states it could generate billions of $ in revenues

  5. Poker is a money making industry. Poker will not solve the global economic crisis. However, taking advantage of the popularity of the game can help to improve the global economic situation.

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