Feature

Uncle Sam’s unwise war on poker

It’s the official hypocrisy that rankles, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

Michael HiltzikLos Angeles Times

Not since Casablanca’s Capt. Renault professed himself “shocked, shocked” that gambling was going on in Rick’s Café has the hypocrisy of gaming regulation been so blatant, said Michael Hiltzik. On April 15, the federal government shut down three large poker websites—Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker—and charged 11 defendants with fraud and money-laundering for disguising gamblers’ payments to what the indictment contends are illegal offshore businesses. Leave aside the absurdity of indicting three businesses for gambling when it’s legal to play poker for money in the U.S. Leave aside the waste of prosecutorial man-hours in pursuit of a victimless crime. It’s the official hypocrisy that rankles. Gambling is legal in every state except Hawaii and Utah, and poker rooms are “an integral feature of most casinos.” Governments need revenue, and “there’s money to be made from poker, if the Congress would gear up to collect it.” Instead, the law looks “petty and priggish,” as if we’ve still failed to “learn any lessons from Prohibition.”

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