President, Poker Players Alliance
As USA TODAY properly noted in its editorial on Internet gambling, prohibitions don’t work (“How to counter online bets,” Editorial, Monday).
Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that seeks to ban online poker and other forms of Internet gambling, while making exceptions for horse racing and online lotteries, will not effectively deter youth gambling or prevent compulsive gambling. In fact, such an approach would only exacerbate these problems.
Whether Americans deem 18 or 21 as the appropriate age to gamble varies from state to state, making federal licensing and industry regulation in the USA the only way to enforce a single standard. Technologies to enforce age compliance are commercially viable, and they’re capable of restricting poker on the Internet to the appropriate age.
In addition, taxing online poker can raise significant revenue. An economic analysis commissioned by our organization revealed that if the government were to regulate and tax the Internet poker industry, it has the potential to raise more than $3.3 billion in annual revenue for the federal government and $1 billion more for state coffers. Some of this money could be wisely spent on public education about the dangers of youth gambling and programs to treat problem gamblers.
No matter how you feel about Internet gambling, or the appropriate age for gambling, the most reasonable way to address concerns is through regulation, not prohibition.
Michael Bolcerek, president
Poker Players Alliance