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Poker Blog | Inside Poker

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Anti Online Gambling Bill Passes

It truly is a dark age for Online Poker

First it was Washington State, now it's Washington D.C. The House passed the anti-online gambling bill today which means should this bill pass the Senate it is just one short signature away from being law, and I think we all know George W Bush will sign the bill into law given the choice. Read the CNN article here

The vote on the bill wasn't even close, 317 to 93, what a colossal mess this is, what a great chance to regulate an industry, keep money in country, make some tax money and not force an industry to lose clientele.

The same arguments are being used that have always been used. Online gambling is not regulated, kids can gamble, people are racking up huge debt.
Rep Leech has been quoted as saying "Never before has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age." Do these arguments speak the truth. Sure I know the industry isn't regulated. Can kids gamble? certainly, they smoke and drink too. Are people racking up huge debt? Of course they are, it's happens in Vegas, and in Atlantic city and yes, even next door with people that don't know their limits. Should this industry be punished? No, they should be encouraged to limit these things from happening.

We can learn a lot from history, and if our Representatives would listen, history would tell us that banning something doesn't work. Banning alcohol didn't stop people from drinking, and banning gambling didn't stop people from gambling. History is full of bans that didn't work. Those involved always found a way around the law so that they could continue to do what they want.
Alcohol is legal now, and there are rules in place to limit underage drinking, the game goes for gambling, but for some reason those men and women in Washington feel that a ban is the only way to solve this "online gambling problem."

I gamble, and if you don't that great, I respect you for you decision. This bill has repercussions that go beyond online gambling. Now I think we can all agree that this bill isn't going to stop most people from gambling online. If we accept this statement as being true then what will this bill really do? As I see it there
will be 4 factors that this bill if passed into law will affect.

Please bare with me as it's been a while since I took Economics in school.

The first thing I would like to cover is the economy. The economy is based on a person spending a dollar on a good or service and then the vender providing the good or service spending that same dollar on another good or service. That dollar is worth more than the single item it buys. That one dollar has real power in the economy. Now of course that statement is grossly simplified but it explains the basis of the economy. The economy relies on that dollar to move from hand to hand in exchange for goods or services. When foreign dollars enter the country it strengthens the economy because here is a dollar that did not exist before. Conversely when a dollar leaves the country it weakens the economy because that dollar can no longer buy a good or service in American. Now you might be wondering how this fits in to my argument against online casinos since they are already offshore? Well it's simple, if online gambling was legalized they wouldn't be offshore, they could be based in the United States. They could become a contributing industry to the US economy worth an estimated 12 Billion dollars a year. Read the
LA Times article

Now that I have explained the economy I would like to cover taxes. In the US when you win money you pay taxes on the winnings, when you take money in or spend money on goods or services you pay taxes, basically if you are involved in the economy you pay takes. With the possibility of online gambling being illegal do you think winners will pay taxes? Not likely, it would tip their hand that they gambled online, the online casinos would be sending tax checks to Washington for all the money that American's spend in their casino. The US government is missing out on a huge source of tax revenue. Even though I hate paying taxes, since I pay taxes on my Vegas winnings, I'd pay my taxes on online winnings and so would pretty much every one else.

Now that the economy has been weakened and a source of potential tax revenue isn't being tapped lets see how the economy can be weakened more. There is a provision in the bill that will all authorities to force an ISP to shut down links to online gambling sites. How is this going to affect the economy? Well as a person who runs a website that links to online casino's and pays an American hosting company to host my website I will be moving my site offshore just like the casino's did. Why would I do this? Well I do get paid for the ads I run on my site and I want to keep that ad money coming in. It isn't a lot but it is still nice to have, it helps pay for my kids braces. I won't be the only one leaving, it might be slow but as soon as the first link is taken down you can be sure there will be an exodus from American hosting companies. The kicker is that the end user will never know the site is now hosted outside the US. How many people will lose their jobs? I have no way of knowing but I am sure it will be greater than zero.

I think that is enough of a lesson or lecture on the economic impact that this bill could have. The social impacts could be just as devastating.

If the industry was regulated a system could have been setup that could have identified problem gamblers and underage gamblers and limit their gambling activities
and offered them help with their problems. Now there is noting to promote that idea.

Online casinos have an advantage of land based casinos. Joe could walk into the Venetian and drop $30 000 on the craps table and be seriously in debt, the casino
could cut him off and likely would because they really don't want to destroy a person life, but nothing stops Joe from walking down the strip to another casino and dropping another $30 000. That second casino would not know about the losses at the first casino. Now in the online world with some cooperation between online casino's or a database of problem gamblers could be setup. They could be identified by their screen name, real name, even the IP address of their computer. The player could be offered a cooling off period, help lines for a problem or even an outright ban. Of course all of these can be circumvented by a serious gambler it is a major advantage that online casino's could have had with a little encouragement from the US government. The same methods could be used to try and control underage gambling.

With a US based, regulated online gaming industry the tax revenues could have been spent on education for young people and for setting up programs for problem gamblers.
Now the nation will have to pay for these programs out of the existing tax revenues. We know that education is the only real way to limit something from happening and programs are the only way to help those that have been affected by an addiction. It is too bad that the government refuses to see that.

I am sure that this bill will be passed, a new law will be made and in the end nothing will be very different from today. But when the government realizes that
the ban didn't work what's next? Do we take a page from the Chinese government handbook and create the great firewall of America? Read the Wiki article on the Great Firewall of China.

I truly hope that smarter heads prevail and this bill is defeated in the Senate. This isn't just a simple internet issue that effects a small portion of the population. This is a socio-economic issue with a great impact than what is being reported.

That's all, I fold.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Banned in Washington State

I have to wonder just where the server that you just accessed is residing? Is it located in Washington State? If it is I may have just broken the law.
Will this blog be shut down? Will the whole server be taken offline? Maybe you think I'm being paranoid? Well tell that to Todd Boutte who had his online casino review site shut down. What's wrong with this you might ask? The law bans online gambling. Well Todd's site only talked about online poker. No where on his site could you place a bet or even play a hand of poker. Since I hate blogs that don't link to their sources here are a few articles talking about the ban:
Seattle Times
Poker News

Todd isn't alone in this breach of freedom of speech, The Seattle Times has been ordered to cease publishing their Poker column. It's become quite clear that talking about poker will get you into a lot of hot water and possibly some jail time.

To ad insult to injury it is still possible to place wagers online for your favorite horse or purchase lottery tickets online. Of course these two industries are controlled by the state of Washington.... So perhaps this simply boils down to the simple fact that the state isn't making any money off online gambling.

Well I'm off to play some online poker, but of course I don't live in Washington State.... Thankfully.

That's All, I fold.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tequila Poker

You might remember a few posts back I was talking about GoldenPalace.com and how I found Casino Hold'em when I was checking out their software. Well I went to Golden Palace again to play some casino Hold'em (it's a fun, quick version of Hold'em) and I found a new Poker game called Tequila Poker. Maybe you've heard about this version of Poker but I hadn't so I thought I'd check it out (for free of course). Well after a few minutes I had figured out the rules and here is what I found.

What is Tequila Poker? Well it's a casino table game played against the house.

There are two separate goals in Tequila Poker. The first is to have a hand that is valued at least more than 46 (called High tequila) or to assemble a poker hand of at least a pair of Aces (called Tequila Poker).

The difficulty of this game appears after the first four cards are dealt. It is at this point you must decide whether the hand with the addition of two more cards will be enough to get a High Tequila or whether you have a hand that will allow you to pursue a Tequila Poker hand. Of course you could always fold at this point and forfeit your Ante. Should you pursue either High Tequila, or Tequila Poker you will need to place a bet that is at least equal to your Ante.

A High Tequila requires that the value of the hand be at least 46 when added together. Cards are valued at their face value with face cards being valued at 10 and Aces valued at 11. It is important to note that the value of the lowest card is discarded so you are working with the five highest valued cards only.
So a hand of Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine, and Seven is valued at 50 as the Seven is discarded.

Here is a Payout Chart for High Tequila.

Hand Value   Payout
54   200 to 1
53   15 to 1
52   7 to 1
51   4 to 1
50   3 to 1
49   2 to 1
46 - 48   1 to 1

A Tequila Poker hand is the best 5 card poker hand you can make with the 6 cards dealt. The poker hands are the same as regular poker except the minimum qualifying hand is a pair of Aces. This makes it fairly difficult to make a poker hand in Tequila Poker. In Tequila Poker, like High Tequila, the lone card is discarded when making a poker hand.

Here is a Payout Chart for Tequila Poker.

Hand   Payout
Royal Flush   200 to 1
Straight Flush   50 to 1
4 of a Kind   15 to 1
Full House   8 to 1
Flush   7 to 1
Straight   5 to 1
3 of a Kind   3 to 1
2 Pairs   2 to 1
Pair of Aces   1 to 1

What are my thoughts on this game? Well the odds are really quiet bad. It is a simple game to play and it works well to kill some time, but for entertainment it has a steep admission price. If you have some time to kill and little else to do and you want to try Tequila Poker, I would recommend that you bet the minimum and enjoy the game. If you are simply curious about the game I recommend that you give it a try for free at www.goldenpalace.com.

That's all, I fold.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Washington State Eyes Poker Ban

I appears that the state of Washington is looking at banning online gaming in all it's forms in the coming days. Just when you thought it was safe to wade back into the online ocean.... With the recent disfavour the federal proposals received it was a shock to hear that this bill in Washington state is facing very little opposition.

I don't think the Washington Represenative have really thought this through however. To charge anyone living in Washington State with Online Gambling offenses they would have to know that you were gambling online. The only way to do this is to monitor your online activities and your financial transactions.
Does this mean that anyone living in Washington State can expect to live in an atmosphere of constant monitoring, where all your online and finacial activites
are cataloged and searched on a regular basis?

Hopefully someone will see the light and stop this madness before it gets a chance to take root.

That's all, I fold.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dieing Online Gambling Bills

I know this is supposed to be a poker blog but this post like the last is dealing more with Politics than poker. I guess this getting more and more true each day for most people and places involved in poker, especially online poker.

In my last post I presented my case as to why banning online gambling/poker is a bad idea. Now it seems that those in the houses of power maybe seeing that online gambling isn't so evil. Now I don't mean to make it sound like they will be going out and legalizing online gambling any time soon but it seem that the fire to ban online gambling is cooling down and it doesn't look like the first of two bills may be set to die in Committee. The house judiciary committee was debating the bill when complications and problems began to appear in the bill. Instead of scheduling a second debate before the committee broke for Easter they left the bill hanging. Add to the mix that Congress has a short session this year because of the Mid-term elections and the bills future looks very bleak indeed.

There is still the Kyl bill to be debated but with the new atmosphere that starts to be appearing in Washington my hopes are high that it will suffer a similar fate.

That's All, I fold.