One might think that when Republicans suffered much-deserved humiliation in the last general election, the notorious Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIEGA) would soon be history. Remember, it was back in 2006 that Senate Republican leadership effectively guillotined the “Moneymaker Effect.” Whatever one’s views are on other worldly issues, the popular perception within the poker community was that Democratic political gains would be very good for players.
With Democrats now in complete control of all branches of the Federal Government, we can no longer limit our anger and disappointment to those musty old Republicans. Indeed, trampling on the rights of poker players now appears to cut across party lines. While Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Representative Frank Wolfe (R-VA) continue to merit our universal contempt, the sad fact is that the “out-of-touch brigade” now has plenty of company on the other side of the partisan aisle.
Consider the positions of many powerful Democrats. The fact is that many national Democratic leaders happen to be women from western states. Virtually all of these influential Democratic women are opposed to overturning the UIEGA. In other words, these proud liberals march lock and step with the most repulsive elements of the religious right. These same Democratic women champion countless progressive causes and wouldn’t agree with the likes of Kyl, Goodlatte, or Wolfe on anything except, peculiarly enough, smothering the freedoms of millions of American citizens who want to play online poker. These Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans.
For your displeasure, here’s a list of the guilty:
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – The Speaker of the House has repeatedly stated that she is dead-set against any expansion of gambling. She remains stubbornly opposed to legalizing poker on the internet because a family member reportedly once had a gambling problem. Pelosi may be the worst House Speaker in my lifetime (note that this opinion comes from an avowed political liberal), but her powerful influence on introducing bills and the legislative process unquestionably remains the biggest obstacle to overturning the UIEGA.
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) – The senior U.S. Senator from California recently demonstrated her appalling confusion on the issue of internet gambling. Consider her response to a constituent in a published letter. She wrote, “Internet gambling has become too easily accessible to minors, subject to fraud and criminal misuse, and too easily used as a tool to evade State gambling laws.” Aren’t these the very reasons we desperately need legalization, licensing, and regulation of online gambling?
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – It’s unclear precisely why Senator Boxer remains strictly opposed to online poker. Unlike her contemporaries Pelosi and Feinstein, Boxer has not widely expressed her views on the subject other than making her opposition known. However, California’s junior Senator has backed major initiatives on behalf of tribal resorts. Perhaps tribal opposition to legalized online poker (the Pachanga Tribe, for example) has influenced her position.
Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) – Oddly enough, Representative Waters represents a Congressional district in Los Angeles that has reaped enormous financial rewards for various municipal projects directly from casino tax revenues. Hollywood Park is located within her district. Waters’ opposition to online poker and internet gambling appears to be based on her view that gambling activities disproportionally harm poor people. That said, to date there has been no word from Waters’ office as to when she plans to start fighting to dismantle the California State Lottery.
Governor Christine Gregoire (D-WA) – This politician is guilty of supporting and ultimately signing into law the most draconian sanctions against poker in more than a century. It’s eerily reminiscent of what many Southern states did in the 1830s when gamblers were rounded up and hanged publicly. Gregoire made Washington the first state in the nation to make gambling on the internet a Class C felony (contrary to the opinion of many courts, poker is considered gambling in Washington state). A poker player living in Seattle or Tacoma is risking far more than a few dollars when he or she plays online. Thanks to the Governor, the poker playing vermin could very well receive the same punishment doled out to child molesters and drunk drivers.
For far too long, groups like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) believe they can win the political debate with simple logic. Sure, our argument is better than their argument and most rational people would agree after listing to a five-minute exchange, but this isn’t a high school debate class. It’s a political street fight versus powerful forces camped out on both the right and the left. Until the PPA rolls up its sleeves and dives into the trenches with an all-out media bombardment aimed directly at the oblivious mainstream voter, nothing is going to change. Sure, we might sway a few Ivy League professors and political columnists from time to time. A few poker players might get five minutes of airtime on MSNBC or FOX. That’s all good, but online poker is not going to be legalized and regulated in the United States until some significant changes in strategy take place.
The first rule of politics is that “right” and “wrong” have little to do with any issue of significance. The debate you see on C-SPAN is pretty much scripted and irrelevant. No Congressman or Senator is swayed one way or the other on any legislation without either coercion or compromise.
Indeed, Washington is nothing more than a gigantic power plant fueled by the only lubricant of any real action – money. Lots of money. Whatever your political views may be, I strongly advise against poker players donating money to national party organizations. If you support a political candidate, donate to the person directly and not to the Democratic National Committee or to the Republican National Committee. If you make a donation to either of these organizations, there’s a good chance some of your money is going to be funneled into the re-election campaigns of Kyl and Pelosi. Just say no.