Monday, September 11, 2006

A Little Bit Of Political Action

A letter I sent to Maria Cantwell (D), US Senator for the State of Washington:

Ms. Cantwell,

As an opponent of civil liberty infringement, I am appalled at the recent passage of HR 4411 in July. Although I am gracious that the representative of my district, Mr. McDermott, stood with me in opposition of this ludicrous bill, it saddens me to see a bill as hypocritical as this one receive so much support. It is my understanding that this bill will soon be presented to you, and as a soon-to-be registered voter in the state of Washington, I strongly encourage you to see past the number of outrageous lies and right-wing propaganda disguised as "support" for this bill and cast a vote in opposition of this bill.

As an online poker player, I cringe at the thought that I live in a state that views my previous hobby as a crime equivalent to sexual misconduct with a child. Unforunately, I moved to Washington as the bill here was already in the late stages of becoming passed, so I did not have much of a chance to fight it. Although the bill passed by the House rightfully does not treat my actions of playing poker on the internet as harshly as my local government does, it nevertheless carries the same message; the action of playing poker online is wrong. This statement is completely hypocritcal, considering those that support this statement fail to recognize online horse racing and online gambling via state-supported lotteries as an equally damaging form of gambling, if not even more damaging (assuming that we even determine gambling to be "damaging"). Perhaps the real force behind this issue is that the ones that are truly benefiting from the massive support of online gambling reside in countries outside the U.S. Whether the argument is made from a moral standpoint or from a financial standpoint, I urge you to examine this bill for what it really is; a misguided and hypocritical attempt to unjustly infringe on every American's civil liberty while protecting the interests of already established online gambling institutions.

Representatives in the House that supported the bill have cited this bill as necessary to protect families and households from the evils of online poker. They mention how easy it is for an underage gambler to obtain a credit card, sign up to play online poker, and lose potentially thousands of dollars. They mention how millons of dollars are being sent to overseas accounts, putting Americans at risk of bank account fraud. They mention how the instant access aspect of online poker puts millions of Americans at risk of becoming addicted to gambling. What they fail to mention is that this bill does nothing to protect Americans from falling victim to these same scenarios at the online gambling establishments that would remain legal after passage of this bill. This bill does nothing to prevent a 16 year old from becoming addicted to online horse betting, or from losing thousands of dollars to online lotteries. And it is definitely not out of the realm of possibility to assume that some other form of money transfer will emerge if the current methods are deemed illegal, which would still keep the risk of account fraud a possibility.

Ask any online poker player, any of the roughly 27 million of us in the United States, and you will hear one singular response: regulation. Regulation is the solution to all of these problems. Imagine the additional revenue our government stands to make from even the smallest amount of online gambling taxation. Imagine how much better protection American citzens will have if the institutions they visit are being governed by the laws of United States instead of the laws of Antigua.

The risks and pitfalls of gambling will exist whether or not it is facilitated by the internet. Online gamblers will either move to the next online opportunity or simply take their business to any number of local casinos. What bill is in place to prevent American citizens from falling victim to these same evils at a casino? This bill does nothing to prevent gambling addiction, it does nothing to reinstill "proper" family values, it does nothing to prevent bank account fraud, and it does nothing but overstep the boundaries of the United States Government.

I hope you are able to see this bill for what it really is and I encourage you to continue your support for civil liberties by casting a vote in opposition of this bill.

Matt Clarich


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