The state of Delaware, which recently refused to be intimidated by the big US sports leagues and passed legalization to permit sports lotteries to help it through tough ecomomic times, was the scene for a further demand for gambling legalization at the weekend. And online poker featured prominently in the call.
The Delco Times editorialised that the legalization and regulation of poker, and in particular online poker, could generate valuable revenues for the state, and it used the recent World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas as an example of the potential impact of a more enlightened approach.
"In Las Vegas earlier this month, 6 494 poker players were willing to ante up $10 000 each as they rolled into the Rio Casino & Hotel to play in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker," the editorial observes.
"That is nearly $65 million devoted to one poker tournament, and that was the tip of the iceberg. There were 56 other events of various sizes and buy-ins during the 2½-month event. More than $173 million in prize money was handed out, with millions more going to the house, millions more spent on hotel rooms and meals, millions more doled to dealers hired specifically for poker’s version of Lollapalooza …
"When you consider the money won, revenue earned and paychecks cut, the WSOP is a shining example of how a leisure activity can provide an economic jolt.
"While poker’s boom in popularity this decade has led to the expansion of poker rooms in casinos, by far the place where the game has enjoyed its largest growth and introduced itself to hundreds of thousands of new players is through online sites," the editorial points out.
"You would think that the federal government might want to ride the rise of poker’s popularity and reap the benefits of the money online players are willing to put up to test their skills. That, however, isn’t the case," it reports, before going on to give a summary of the restrictive attitudes adopted by the US Congress, and highlighting the fact that despite these, "…..thousands of Americans still play online, while the offshore companies that run Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and other sites use loopholes to work around the law."
The writer emphasises the skill vs. chance differences between poker and "skill-free" gaming like slots, pointing out that poker players can and do have long-term success because it is a game where strategy, deception and opponent analysis are beneficial skills.
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"There have been far bigger issues on the docket for President Obama’s administration while it wrangles with the recession, but every day it puts off this [legalization of online poker] matter is another day a source of federal income is being shrugged off. What makes online poker’s ban more puzzling is that there is very little resistance from the other side. All signs are that legalization would get through Congress with little trouble, and that President Obama would sign it gladly," the editorial concludes, acknowledging Congressman Barney Frank's HR 2267 and Congressman Jim McDermott's HR 2268 current proposals for legalization.
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