Thursday, November 10, 2016

Oh, Yeah... Online Poker

Was asked yesterday about what the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president might mean as far as online poker in the United States is concerned.

It’s a good question, although as I thought about it I quickly realized that if I were to make a list of issues to be concerned about regarding Trump’s taking over, there are probably 70 or 80 others I’d rank higher importance than online poker. Then again, it is an issue I am at least attentive to, given how much of my life is affected by the vagaries of poker’s place in the culture.

My first instinct was to say it probably didn’t matter much at all who won on Tuesday, as neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton were going to be huge proponents of any sort of federal regulation permitting online gambling and/or poker in the U.S.

I remember my shuttle ride from Atlantic City to the Philly airport last weekend. My loquacious driver was a Trump supporter, and even had a little Trump/Pence sign he held up and shook at me when making one of several points about the current state of his state and of the nation as a whole.

Thanks to the event from which he was driving me -- the inaugural PokerStars Festival New Jersey series -- we’d gotten onto the topic of online poker in the U.S. He was insistent Trump was the candidate to support for those wanting online poker up and running again. I expressed doubt, though, saying I wasn’t sure either candidate was going to be all that excited about such a cause.

I was thinking in part of the possibility of someone like Sheldon Adelson, the deep-pocketed Trump supporter and anti-online gambling lobbyist, perhaps influencing a Trump regime in a certain unpleasant direction. Then again, there’s New Jersey governor Chris Christie now standing by Trump’s side who signed NJ’s online gambling bill into law three years ago. Meanwhile VP Mike Pence has openly supported the Adelson-backed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), if that might be said to tip the balance.

In any event, the Obama administration obviously has not viewed online gambling a cause to support, and if you think about certain measures like the surreptitious “Operation Choke Point” that targeted online gambling (in part), the evidence suggests an outward (if not so evident) antagonism toward it. I wouldn’t imagine a Clinton administration would have been so excited to adopt an alternate position than the current one allowing for the slow, slow trickle of state-by-state legislation with no federal push.

Like I say, it probably doesn’t matter much. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act -- the 10-year anniversary of which just recently passed -- has effectively reduced online poker in the U.S. to the point of near-insignificance, at least on the federal level. That could change one day, but just as I felt a week ago, there’s no more reason to think that it will anytime soon.

Even so, there’s a whole lot else to worry about first.

Image: “poker-online-logo” (adapted), texasholdempoker. CC BY 2.0.

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