I’m currently too physically and emotionally exhausted from work and other things to do this post justice, but I just had to get my two cents in while this story is still relatively hot, as is my ire. For those of you who didn’t hear about it, and I’m assuming most of you didn’t, fucking Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist snuck in the bill to make internet gambling illegal by attaching it to a completely unrelated Port Security bill which was up for a vote. Surely enough, this Port Security Act was passed by Congress in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning. After all, who would vote against securing our ports, right? Naturally, President Bush intends to sign it so that pretty much seals the deal. There will be 270 days for the terms to be fully defined, but it is essentially now going to be a felony for US banks to transact with online gambling websites. You want to get money out of your online poker account? You better book a flight to the Isle of Man or someplace like that because you sure as hell are not going to be able to transfer funds or cash any check that the site would normally send you. This is the American political system at its absolute ugliest. By sneaking in this bill, it makes the religious right happy just in time for election season.
Furthermore, the Republicans were in such a mad rush to get this bill passed at all costs that they ended up doing it by including all kinds of wacked out exceptions. Horse racing? Exempt! State lotteries? Exempt! Fantasy Sports? Exempt! And the craziest one of all? Online gambling sites run by approved state-licensed casinos are… EXEMPT! Talk about a sweetheart deal for casino operators! Think it’s a coincidence that a $15 billion buyout offer for Harrah’s was announced on Monday and rumors abound that the bid will go higher? People saw this coming and see the future angle too. Besides the book evaluation of the current worth of the Harrah’s operations, think of the upside after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 begins getting enforced. Harrah’s owns the WSOP which has enjoyed phenomenal growth due to the ever increasing number of participants qualifying online (like yours truly). So this law, under the guise of preserving morality or some other such nonsense, will actually eliminate all offshore competitors and create a protected environment for state-licensed casinos to monopolize the internet poker industry. Suddenly the only way for the average internet poker joe to qualify online for the WSOP main event will be to do it on the Harrah’s website. Think of the millions of internet poker players which currently divide their business amongst many different sites, all gravitating towards the tiny handful of sites owned by these American casinos. That my friends, is the kind of loophole it takes to get a bullshit law passed in this country. And even if you don’t give a damn about poker, sweetheart protectionist legislation or even conservative vs. liberal politics, there’s still one major underlying question that makes this whole legislation reek of shit- WHAT THE HELL DOES ONLINE GAMBLING HAVE TO DO WITH PORT SECURITY??!!