Monday, May 07, 2007

'Poker is a game of luck' argument

Everyone who plays poker more than one time understands what is meant by this statement. But when it comes to carving out exemptions for the Online Gambling Act based on SKILL, it seems the wrong battle is being fought.

I dont understand why anyone would try to label poker as a game of skill when money is being wagered. I just dont get that. Its like arguing the non-existence of God with a catholic priest. You can make all the arguments you want, but you cant "win".

I believe a better way to address the issue politically is to carve out exemptions where money is wagered amongst players instead of against the house.

This makes 3 important distinctions:
1. The provider (online poker site) is providing a SERVICE (poker) for which they take a FEE (rake). (This makes is similar to an online RPG world, which is a multi-BILLION dollar business now)

2. This scenario is far easier to regulate (just ask any telecommunications company forced to pay Gore's Internet tax). Fees are a percentage of taxation. Companies would have to pay that transaction fee for US players. No execptions.

3. The fears of money laundering are diminished (but not entirely mitigated) while making many voters happy.

Obviously, the compromise bill would have to artificially cap the amount you could deposit in a single year (the "I lost my house" protection act argument), but that is a small price to pay to re-open the doors to online poker.

Most important of all, it avoids trying to "win an argument of opinions" and instead steers everyone towards a "dont ask dont tell" scenario where we dont have to determine if "pokrt is a skill" for everyone to be happy.


Anonymous said...

If it became known poker involves skill, all the fish would go play pai gow, caribbean stud or video poker ;)

Chris said...

Well thought, and well said... and we all know 'luck' is a feature of poker, though not the 'main' feature. Getting away from the 'luck vs. skill' argument might hold some weight, for I never really bought into that.

I do like your rationalization, but the same could be said for a sports book, as the players (less directly) are betting against each other via a sports book agent...

Just some random thoughts. Keep 'em coming.

columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

no, when you bet sports, you certainly bet against the house. If you win, the house pays out. Most games work this way...

Except poker.

Mattazuma said...

Horse racing is a pretty good equivalent. The bettors put their money into the pools, the house takes a cut, and the rest is redistributed to the winners.

The pari-mutual system has been ok with the government since the 1930s, I don't see why a similar system couldn't be worked out for poker.

State governments will do just about anything for more revenue when the economy is cooling down. Maybe at least one of them will take a flyer on poker.