The Misguided Attack on the Online Poker Industry

MSNBC has a horror story about poker players who've had thousands of dollars frozen due to recent federal action against online poker companies:

The government has blocked U.S. gamblers from logging on to the offshore sites, which are accused of tricking and bribing banks into processing billions of dollars in illegal profits. Now gamblers who dreamed of enormous prizes in Las Vegas, or even used online poker to make a living, can't access online bankrolls that in some cases reach six figures

This war against the online poker companies is stupid in every respect. First of all, there's the blatant hypocrisy of allowing actual, legalized gambling in the U.S., yet penalizing the online component. How can that possibly be justified, except out of some severely misguided sense of morality? Furthermore, there are billions worth of untapped revenue that the U.S. government could make simply by explicitly allowing online poker to operate in this country and then taxing the services.

The always-fascinating Nate Silver also has a great analysis of this issue at his NYTimes blog.

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