It seems whenever you read something in the mainstream media regarding poker and online gaming, it is always painted in an unfavorable light. From a college student allegedly robbing a bank to pay for his poker debts to legislation floating through the halls of Congress, many times the blame for adverse behavior is laid at the door of the recent explosion in wagering, and particulary wagering on the internet. With all of this said, finally it appears that a well respected voice in the mainstream media understands what is going on.
In an article in the Washington Times on March 19th, writer Tim Lemke penned a very objective and well researched article regarding the industry. He focused on the current battle in the NCAA basketball tournament and the Internet wagering on its outcome as an initial focus and went on in the article to point out how nearly two thirds of the wagering on the Internet (including sports betting, poker, casinos and other operations) comes from the United States.
Online gaming, according to Lemke's article, is a $15 billion industry which shows the potential to reach over $25 billion by the end of this decade. Lemke gets several excellent insights from many in the online gaming and poker industry. Notable industry insiders such as BoDog founder Calvin Ayre, Sportingbet PLC CEO Nigel Payne (Sportingbet is the owner of Paradise Poker) and BetonSports's CEO Peter Carruthers add their opinions on how to best utilize the potential of the online gaming industry. Even law professor Joseph Kelly of the State University of New York points out the "futility" of attempting to criminalize the nearly 2,000 online poker and wagering sites with his comments.
Of course, because the article is a well balanced approach, Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte, who has recently introduced legislation regarding the online gaming industry, is interviewed as well. He continues to point out his reasons for his approach to Internet gaming and his bill to shut it down. It is also pointed out by Lemke, however, that this is a near impossibility; the Wire Act of 1961, which has been used frequently by the U. S. government as the reason online wagering is illegal, doesn't address either the Internet or other offerings such as poker, bingo and casinos.
The final idea that is presented by the article is that, instead of attempting to keep Americans from wagering online or playing poker, the U. S. government would be better off allowing the industry to flourish and take in the revenues from it. It would benefit not only the online gaming industry but it would change the viewpoint of many that there are improprieties that abound. It is pointed out that in the United Kingdom not only are many online companies traded on their financial markets but the industry is also heavily regulated and taxed. Best expressing this idea is one of the comments from Carruthers, who says, "I could pump $1 billion into the U. S. economy right away."
Kudos to Tim Lemke and the Washington Times for such a balanced look at what is, to be honest, a very complex issue. With more objective approaches such as this, perhaps there could be some active debate on the Internet poker and gaming in the legislative bodies of America. It may be too soon to even think of it, but perhaps this attention from the mainstream media could turn the tide and lead to regulation of the industry rather than the banishment of it.
Ed Note: Banish your own misfortune at the poker tables of CD Poker.