Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oppose H.R. 4411, H.R. 4777

I know I'm harping on this subject but if these two bills were to pass into law I would not be able to play online poker or continue with this blog. Both of which are very important recreational activities for me. The following is a form letter that the Poker Players Alliance has put together that you can use to let your Congressmen know what you think of this impending legislation. They have it set up so you can edit the letter if you would like and PPA will automatically forward it the e-mail address you specify. No more excuses, It doesn't get any easier than this. Please take a moment and help the cause. (Poker Players Alliance Form Letter)

I am writing to urge you to oppose pending legislation that would limit the rights of individuals to play poker online. Currently, there are two bills in the House, H.R. 4411 introduced by Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa, and H.R. 4777 introduced by Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. And in the Senate, Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is pushing similar legislation that he wants to introduce.

As an avid poker player, I feel strongly that these bills and any other legislation that deny Americans the right to play a game of skill such as poker on the Internet, seriously and egregiously violate my personal freedoms.

More than 70 million people today enjoy poker. And while most play at home, in taverns, or poker clubs, more than 23 million enjoy this game of skill with friends and family on the Internet. The possibility of the federal government stripping away this right to play online is very troubling to me. In fact, a recent survey of voting adults showed that more than 74 percent of Americans oppose federal efforts to ban online poker. Why would Congress try to enact legislation that is opposed by a majority of their constituency?

I do not believe that putting the word “Internet” in front of poker makes this great American game suspect. I am also very concerned about the legislation’s enforcement mechanisms, which would deputize private institutions like banks and Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor the personal financial transactions and online habits of American citizens.

A more reasoned approach to Internet poker would be to tax and regulate it here in the United States, as we do with brick and mortar casinos.

Currently, online poker sites are based outside of the U.S. and are subject to regulatory regimes not under our government’s jurisdiction. Many of the most popular poker Web sites are public corporations, traded on the London Stock Exchange. They are required to follow auditing and accounting procedures set forth by the United Kingdom, our biggest ally in the war on terror. Additionally, these poker Web sites have employed state-of-the-art age verification technology to prevent children from gambling on the Internet.

If the U.S. government were to take a similar approach to regulating online poker as it does for land-based gambling, we can ensure a safe and regulated environment for Americans to play on the Internet.

Moreover, both federal and state governments could reap significant tax revenues from what is currently a $5 billion industry. Some of this money could be wisely spent on public education and services for problem gamblers.

From average citizens to presidents, generals, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices, Americans have been playing poker for centuries, making it a rich part of our cultural heritage. Today, the evolution of game on the Internet should not be restricted by overarching government interference.

I urge you to take these concerns into consideration and oppose H.R. 4411, H.R. 4777, and the Kyl proposal that will make outlaws of poker players who enjoy the game online.

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