In this prosecution, the DOJ is maintaining its track record of prosecuting high-profile, made-for-Hollywood cases such as billionaire Raj Rajaratnam’s alleged insider trading and the alleged steroid use and obstruction of justice by former Major League Baseball celebrities Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Yes, online poker finds both conservative and liberal opponents. Focus on the Family and Christian Science Monitor support these prosecutions. Anti-free market types - who despise competition and individualism - whine that online poker changes the “true” nature of the game and rewards whippersnappers who can take aggressive risks because they are young and single.
However, there is little scientific evidence that the majority of gamblers are irresponsible. A lead researcher in a 2009 Harvard Medical School study revealed that most gamblers exhibit “rational betting behavior” and problem gambling has decreased to 0.6 percent, reports Poker News Daily.
Should the DOJ perp-walk the owners of jewelry stores and big game hunting excursions? After all, their businesses could encourage people to waste thousands of dollars on “frivolities” and obliterate a family savings account as quickly as gambling.
In reality, mastering online poker requires tremendous practice, skill and mental dexterity. 21-year-old multimillionaire Daniel Cates told The New York Times, “…I just kept working at it.” He told The Times that he was a natural loner with a strong work ethic. At age six he began mastering games like Minesweeper and Command and Conquer. After years of developing gaming skills and even taking a job at McDonalds to responsibly finance his bets, he became a rising star in high-stakes poker.
Online poker is a poster-child for capitalism: It shows that anyone - young or old, handsome or homely, rich or poor – can become a self-made multimillionaire with hard work, persistence and a willingness to take personal risk. Optimism, moxie and years of lonely trial and error allow entrepreneurs like online poker players to take leaps that people with low confidence and a love for security blankets would never take.
Online poker is legal in many civilized parts of the world, such as Canada and Europe. Legalizing online poker could bring a $6 billion industry and thousands of jobs to the U.S. I think the DOJ should consider forgiving online poker its “crimes,” ensure the industry has legal clarity, and, let the free market regulate online gaming in the U.S. Otherwise, this prosecution could restrict online freedom, further weaken our economy and chill entrepreneurship.