Tuesday, 12 September 2006

shipitfish: (poker-not-crime)

There is a Poker Players' Alliance call-in to the USA Senate today until 17:30 Eastern. They set up an automated 800 line that auto-forwards you to one of your senators based on your zip code. The line is flooded right now, so calling your senator directly might be better at the moment.

I'm more the faxing type; that's the way I've always chosen to write to my legislative representatives. Below is what I wrote to my New York Senators. Feel free to cut and paste at will if you want to fax them. You can probably dig up fax numbers on the senate.gov site.

Dear Ms. Clinton [ and Mr. Schumer],

I am a new resident of New York state; I moved here only one year ago, so it is my first time contacting you.

I am writing to urge you to oppose legislation that would make online poker and other poker-related activities illegal. I know that there is at least one bill of this nature that might be before the Senate this term.

The game of poker is an American tradition dating back to the civil war era, and perhaps earlier. Mark Twain considered it so important to America's culture that he proclaimed that a man who didn't know the “meaning of a ‘flush’” was “enough to make one ashamed of one's species”. Many famous presidents, such as Truman and Nixon, were known for their love of the game. Truman even played it on the way home from Potsdam with the journalists and staffers with him to help ease his mind as he made the key American decisions of the end of World War II. To make poker illegal would deny our own game-playing heritage.

Poker is unlike other so-called “gambling” activities that Congress seeks to outlaw. Poker is indeed played with cards for money, but it is a game of skill, not chance. It is much more like chess than it is like lotteries. Meanwhile, I find it incredibly hypocritical that legislation under consideration carves out special permission for state lotteries, which can be defined no other way than “pure gambling”. No credible reason is given for allowing these wagering activities, while a traditional and quintessentially American game of skill that includes wagering is declared illegal online.

I hope that you will vehemently oppose this legislation on the behalf of me and all New York poker players. As a New York City resident, I have witnessed first-hand a recent backlash and crackdown against those who enjoy a friendly game of poker here in this great city. Poker players and those who make venues available for us to play are currently treated as if we were criminals, while those who run seedy off-track betting establishments are given an endorsement in the law.

I hope you see this hypocrisy and pandering for what it is. Please, don't let it extend any further for New Yorkers than it already has. Oppose all legislation that would make poker illegal. Instead, support plans that would regulate and tax poker for the benefit of the general good, much like those lotteries that are already endorsed by our government. Prohibition has never worked to prevent activities that certain parties dislike; let's instead find ways to build a tax revenue base from this activity that some misguided politicians find “immoral”.


Bradley Sif


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