One of the many mainstream press articles spawned by the weekend's television and Washington Post coverage of the online poker cheating scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet was carried by the Toronto Star newspaper. Writer Dave Perkins presented a persuasive and logical argument for the regulation and licensing across Canada of the pastime, opining that such a move would not only protect players but bring sorely needed tax revenues.
Perkins points to the healthy income streams received by the Kahnawake sovereign tribe from its involvement in Internet gambling, while the government stands by, "….terrified to intervene and enforce the law."
"The time will never be better than right now to change the law and make Internet gambling – and sports betting, while we're at it – fully legal across the country. We could legalize it, regulate and tax it, the way Britain did in 2004," Perkins writes. "With governments scrambling for tax revenues, this would be a relatively painless windfall. Companies operating on the shady side of the law could operate out in the open, pay taxes and sponsor events. That's what happens in Britain now.
"Gamblers will gamble, whether it's legal or not, but they would prefer to bet with legal, regulated companies. For one thing, this kind of online poker fraud could be addressed and punished openly, instead of handled secretly, as is happening in the cases at the centre of the WashPost/60 Minutes story."
Perkins suggests that the Canadian government should join the Kahnawakes as it canot beat them…and beat them to the "billions of dollars available" instead.
"Make it legal, set up the regulating framework and watch the money pour in," the articles advocates. "In these economically turbulent times, it makes nothing but sense to profit legally from an activity that is both here to stay and is growing every year.
"We already allow most forms of gambling and people can't be stopped from doing it on the Internet now. So step up and do it right. Rake a square game of online poker, if that's what people want to play. Allowing single-game sports betting also would provide revenues that could go to everyone from amateur sports to the pro events on which a majority of betting will take place.
"This decision is both so obvious and so far overdue that it should be a no-brainer. Even for Ottawa."