My letter to Sen. Kyl
April 25, 2007
Senator Jon Kyl
United States Senate
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Kyl:
I�ve been following your efforts to restrict the ability of Americans to choose play Internet poker and other casino games in the privacy of their own homes. I�d like to share with you my humble opinion on the matter.
By way of introduction, I�m an engineer with one of the nation�s larger companies. After a long day at work, I enjoy playing a little poker on occasion, and I prefer playing in the comfort of my own home with my wife at my side to playing in a smoky casino. I happen to be skilled enough at the game to win significantly more than I lose, but that�s not really the point. Poker is an enjoyable game of skill, much as golfing or fishing. In fact, poker is one of the great American pastimes. Presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress and average Americans have enjoyed the game for more than 150 years. It�s an honorable game.
As a fellow Republican, I share some of the concerns you�ve mentioned about online gambling. However, it�s not obvious that federal laws restricting our freedoms and liberties will solve these issues. After all, online gambling will continue internationally. In fact, the WTO has recently ruled the U.S. violated international trade law by prosecuting online gambling cases. As such, I urge you to support legalization with regulation, rather than prohibition. A regulated Internet gambling environment will facilitate age verification and collection of federal and state taxes. It will also reduce any potential vulnerability of gambling websites to being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorist financing. With regulation, potential problems can be controlled without taking freedoms from Americans. After all, Russians and Eastern Europeans can gamble online; it seems the U.S. should trust its citizens at least as much as Russia trusts theirs, right?
On the topic of freedom, it seems the Republican Party has chosen to be the party of social conservatism only. The party now supports big, powerful government as long as it promotes the party�s social agenda. As such, it appears limited-government Goldwater/Reagan Republicans like myself are no longer welcome in the party. However, without us, it�s hard to see how the Republican Party can win in the West (or anywhere but the South). Do you like being in the minority, as you are today? What about when a libertarian-conservative Democrat runs against you on a platform of a smaller federal government? Ironic (at least at one time), but very foreseeable now. As an aside, when that does happen, the way things stand now he�ll likely receive a lot of donations from poker players around the nation. Also, many younger voters will wake up and turn out like they did against Rep. Leach.
Proponents of online gambling prohibition often mention endorsements UGIEA received from some in the religious community, some family groups, some financial services groups and some professional sports organizations. I hope you�ll consider the fact that these groups do not necessarily represent the majority of voters in our nation (or even the majority of Arizona Republicans). As for religious and family groups, there is no prohibition against gambling in the Bible. As a Christian, I personally find it offensive that so many so-called religious folks are willing to give away our freedoms, especially in pursuit of a goal not even defined in the Bible. As for financial services groups, some credit card issuers may like UIGEA (due only to the risk of losing players refusing to pay up), but I don�t believe banks wish to be the enforcers of UIGEA. As a result, I think you�ll find financial services groups to be net losers as a result of UIGEA. Finally, I believe the concerns of the major professional sports organizations relate only to sports betting. A regulated online gaming environment can address that concern.
Online gaming will continue to exist with or without the participation of the United States. We�re losing our opportunity to control the games via regulation as well as the opportunities for U.S. companies to operate the games both domestically and internationally. This is costing America jobs and tax revenue.
Thank you for your consideration.