Gary Loveman: chairman, president and CEO of multi-billion dollar empire Caesars Entertainment, published an article on Sunday in vehement defence of the benefits online poker will bring to America, and how it must soon be legalised. Printed exclusively in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Loveman’s writing evoked a passionate plea for online poker to be made legal and regulated on a federal level.
Loveman argues that online poker is a $6 billion dollar industry overseas, which is currently catering to US citizens. Despite recent federal government crackdown, many other online poker sites have since moved in to fill the hole in the market. In some cases, less than twenty four hours after the arrest of the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker on Black Friday. Online poker, he says, is an opportunity to bring thousands of jobs to America; not to mention grossing millions in tax revenue, which could be put to the benefit of the American people. He also states that the current set of laws regarding online poker (and online gambling in general) are ambiguous, and the moment should be seized and used for finite legal clarification.
Complete Federal legalization, states Loveman, has already been decided by the people of America. Many citizens continue to play and enjoy online poker games despite the mess of legal complications which do not allow, and yet do not prohibit, the game. He equates the current ban with the Prohibition Laws which America faced in the 1920s. He draws parallels with the “fly by night” underground and foreign operations which took place in order to circumvent Prohibition, and which are now being used to bring online poker to American citizens – where it is certainly in high demand.
With these underground methods of circumvention come risks. Millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens find ways to navigate around a law they despise, and which hinders them from a perfectly appropriate activity (in some cases their very livelihood). However, consumers lose all protections which are inherent in a government regulated onshore business. This means they run a higher risk of bank and identity fraud. Poker, says Loveman, is also a game primarily a game of skill rather than luck, and should not be classed with other chance based casino games under the ‘gambling’ heading.
State level legislation, Loveman argues, will not sufficiently address the problems. Only action at federal level will sufficiently clear up current ambiguities and allow Americans to enjoy online poker without the threat of persecution. The legislation should provide strict regulation, and include the use of state of the art technology in order to protect people from cheating and cyber criminals. It should also entail work with law enforcement programs in order to protect player privacy and to prevent money laundering. The tax generated from online poker would help to prevent tax increases for ordinary working people, and would help to prevent cuts in education, law enforcement, health care and other civil services.
Loveman closed his article with:
One day, we’ll look back at 2011 and laugh at the folly of a ban on Internet poker – just like we now think about Prohibition. The sooner that day comes, the better.
Couldn’t agree more.