BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: MAY 3, 2011
Government’s Growing Reach Into Our Lives Raises Citizens’ Ire
Outrage pulsed through the community. Another personal freedom was under attack.
Government leaders once again were overreacting to do-gooders bent on saving the rest of us from ourselves. In the process, they were tossing aside our rights as free citizens.
Officials seemed to believe that if businesses went kaput and jobs were lost, well, that’s too bad. The cause still was justified.
The people angrily responded in online forums:
— “This is a joke! Quit telling us what we can and can’t do.”
— “For the love of Pete, can you people find anything else to fixate on? Fix the damned budget!”
— “You cannot protect everyone. End this Nanny State before we have no freedoms left.”
Sound familiar? Well, none of this involved online poker.
This particular patch of protest last week was aimed at legislators in Springfield, Ill., where a state law was in the works to ban trans fats from restaurants, movie-theater popcorn, bakeries and school vending machines.
Such a law would “be devastating for us,” said Andy VanHoe, owner of Olde Towne Bakery in Moline. People would just cross the river into Iowa to “get a cake that tastes like a cake.”
Pointing out the obvious silliness of such a law, Susan Lillybeck of Moline’s Donut Delite said most people just consider pastries as a treat. “You don’t eat doughnuts three meals a day.”
Online poker players feel the same way about U.S. government efforts to eliminate what they view as their right to play a skill game on the Internet. In effect, players are pleading: Don’t take away our cake!
Department of Justice indictments released April 15 against the top three offshore poker sites and some money processors serving U.S. customers put a screeching halt to the games.
In all, 11 people face huge fines and lengthy prison sentences if found guilty on charges, including bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling as defined by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act. An accompanying civil suit seeks $3 billion in penalties.
Meanwhile, millions of players expect full refunds of their money stored on the targeted sites, but that’s only partial consolation against the empty reality of a never-ruled-illegal pastime — and in some cases, livelihood — being taken away.
Many players have vented their frustration:
— “Why is the federal government doing this? Are they just trying to get money out of the poker sites?” asked David M. in Ashland, Ky.
— “Your efforts are making the difference in winning the war on poker, and we can’t stop now,” said the Poker Players Alliance, noting that money-withdrawal plans were announced after 70,000 complaining e-mails flowed through the PPA to government officials in the first five days of the blackout.
— “I’m just putting online poker on hold for a while,” lamented an agitated Bob R. in Davenport, Iowa, after his credit card was rejected by a site supposedly still open to U.S. action. “I miss playing, though.”
He’s just one of an estimated 10 million U.S. online players who now must hope for passage of legislation to regulate and tax a safe and fair Internet poker industry.
They also want the right to enjoy a tasty trans-fat treat while they wait for the games to return.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 RUSS SCOTT
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