You probably know by now that Congress passed the Internet Gaming Prohibition Act late last week, by attaching it to a Port Security bill that was virtually guaranteed passage by the Senate. Of course, the anti-Internet-gaming bill wasn't getting much support on its own merits, so Senator Bill Frist snuck it onto the Port Security bill because it was not likely to pass any other way.
I have been reading quite a bit about this travesty of legislative trickery, although I don't think I have scratched the surface of everything that has been written about it. I have found some very good articles, and lots of links to even more excellent articles, about the subject at Card Squad. Go check them out as a starting point for information and opinions on this topic.
My personal reaction? On a shallow level, I am sorry to hear that some on-line poker sites are announcing that they will stop doing real-money business with US residents when the bill is signed into law in the next several days. I have enjoyed playing poker on line over the past few years, and I hope I can continue to do so. If the real money games dry up, I hope there will be play money games still available to me, so I can continue to play that way. I didn't play for very high stakes at real money, and overall I have more or less broken even, so it's not like I will be losing out on any profits that I was looking forward to or counting on. But I suspect that a lot of the players that I have met and come to know on line will not be interested in the fake money games, and I will miss playing with those that quit.
On a deeper level, I am frustrated, bordering on angered, by the actions of our elected officials who think they need to tell me, and millions of other responsible Americans, what they can't spend their money on in the privacy of their homes. The hypocrisy and arrogance of these dolts boggles my mind. I have tended to stay on the sidelines of the political world over the years. That isn't to say that I don't vote; I have voted in every presidential election since I became old enough to do so some 30-odd years ago, and in plenty of others in between. But I haven't closely followed every local campaign, or read up on each issue that was on every ballot I have cast, or written many letters to my government representatives. These days, though, I am growing increasingly discontented, if not disgusted, with the way our so-called leaders are behaving and speaking. Too much in the way of the freedoms that our founding fathers fought for (how's that for alliteration?) is being sacrificed in the name of the "war on terror" or "national security" or "family values" or some other nominally admirable phrase that has little connection with the actions being associated with it. When political gain is more important to our representatives than doing what is sensible, or is what one's constituents actually want, then we citizens are in danger of losing control of a country that is, by constitutional definition, ours.
I will be watching more closely what our Congresspersons do and say. And not just the US Congress, but my state and local reps too. I will speak up if I don't like the way things are going. I will encourage others to do the same. I will fight for what I know is right, and not what some suit in a capital building tells me is right. I may not be the most visible or vocal person around, but I'm not going to stay on the sidelines all the time any more. You know, if I have some extra time on my hands because there aren't as many poker games for me to play, I just might use that time to make my voice heard, and write a few of those letters to the people who are supposed to represent, and promote, my interests in our governmental bodies.
For now, I have joined the Poker Players Alliance, who I hope will work diligently to convince the powers that be that poker should be omitted from the list of on-line games subject to this new law. I will try to become better informed about what is being decided in our next election. I must admit, the governor's race here in Texas scares me, because none of the candidates strikes me as someone I would want running the state where I live. And I will play poker, somehow, somewhere. I cashed out of PartyPoker when they announced that they would stop allowing US residents to play for real money on their site. I moved the money I had there to PokerStars, and will use it on that site until and unless Stars decides to bar us at their door. I will play the fake money games when the urge strikes. I would love to get some like-minded players together and play some private or semi-private play money tournaments, for the fun and camaraderie of it. Maybe I will clean up my house and start a home game. Maybe I will make another trip to Oklahoma and play in one of the Native American casinos up there. Poker is too much fun for me to give it up completely.
I will see you at a poker table someplace, sometime, hopefully with the blessing of the numbskulls who are trying to keep us away from it - or else, the blessing of their replacements.