About a week ago Helaine called me to her computer screen. She’d gone to play poker at PokerStars and was greeted by a message. Cash games to the United States were suspended. A quick look at the PokerStars website showed the pokerstars.com domain had been seized by the US Justice Department.
We knew playing online meant entering a netherworld whose legality was in dispute. The prevailing wisdom was the players were operating legally, but the poker rooms not so much.
I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect a government shutdown.
We enjoy playing. We don’t play for much. We can play for hours with only a few dollars at stake. Seriously, Helaine has complained I play for too little!
The actual charge is the poker rooms have been playing fast and loose by money laundering. I don’t doubt it’s true. There was no way to move player’s money in and out of the United States without skirting the law.
Proponents of poker say legalize it and let the taxes flow. Right now these businesses make oodles of cash in the U.S. without paying a penny. Who do they think they are, General Electric?
Poker is a game which will work better under government supervision. Tighter control (and even taxes) implies honesty and integrity. Integrity is a big deal when the cards are being dealt from some secret foreign server.
In the meantime while this whole thing stinks. Helaine’s watching “Say Yes to the Dress” and I don’t have poker to distract me.