Leave it to the government to move in and ban something “bad.” The Feds are like the parents in “Footloose“: No dancing (or any other innocuous adult activity) allowed. The FBI today raided three of the most popular online poker sites on the Web — PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker — meaning poker stars Phil Helmuth, Annie Duke, and Phil Ivey lost a BIG hand today. (And note how each of the poker sites linked above feature the same message from the FBI.)
Via the LA Times:
Prosecutors are seeking to immediately shut down the sites and to eventually send the executives to jail and to recover $3 billion from the companies. By Friday afternoon Full Tilt Poker’s site displayed a message explaining that “this domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. pursuant to an Arrest Warrant.”
The online gambling industry has taken off over the last decade, drawing an estimated 15 million Americans to bet online.
This is yet another aspect of life in which our individual technological freedom has outpaced antiquated and restrictive laws.
Put aside the morality of gambling — which the Feds do. The FBI is not raiding and shutting down Harrah’s, or the Flamingo, or Bill’s Gambling Hall & Saloon (been there twice), or any of the thousands of legal physical gambling houses in America. They are targeting only the places where adults who wish to play Texas Hold’em online.
Heartland’s Bruce Edward Walker, the managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News, promises more on this issue soon. But this raid looks to me like a bad beat — as bad as having an ace-high straight on the flop … and getting beat by a flush on the river.
UPDATE (9:30 p.m. CDT April 17): Lawrence Meyers has a don’t-miss post at Big Government on this issue, and finds worthy fault with Republican members of Congress. Read the whole thing, but Lawrence goes all in — and wins — with this money quote:
Online gambling, like the lottery, is a choice. At least with gambling, one actually has a chance at winning. Winning the lottery, on the other hand, is a miracle. And with poker, the argument over whether it is a game of chance, skill or both is ongoing. Professional poker player Annie Duke insists that it’s a game of skill. Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner says otherwise.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter. The point is that engaging in any of these activities is a matter of personal choice.