If you play on offshore, unregulated online poker sites, the terrorist win. At least that is the message conveyed by Pennsylvania iGaming champion Rep. John Payne. A week ago, WGAL News 8 posted a report about internet gaming could become part of the Pennsylvania state budget.
As part of their report, they spoke with Rep. Payne and he asked where does the money go when you lose. He suggested both China and ISIS as possible destination for funds lost by online poker players. In one sentence, he demonized an entire industry that includes sites such as PokerStars that are looking to legally enter the regulated marketplace.
Isn’t It Time to Retire the Terrorist Under the Bed Theories?
While it is popular for some politicians to throw around China and ISIS as fearful buzz words, it is a tactic that has gotten stale and become transparent to anyone actually paying attention to the issues.
When has there been a single documented instance where online poker funds were being sent from unregulated online poker sites to ISIS, China or any other terrorist organization. It seems that such transactions would have been leaked at some point over the last 15 years.
Is such a scenario as Payne suggests possible? Of course it is possible but where is the proof? Show us evidence that these activities are happening instead of just playing on the fears of Americans that are already hyper-sensitive to the “terrorist next door.”
Greed Not Terrorism is What Drives Unscrupulous Operators
Since the dawn of online poker, almost every time there has been an online poker scandal we can point to a person or group of people that were motivated purely by greed. Russ Hamilton is considered a despicable human being, but he didn’t take his million that he stole from players and make bombs.
Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer and company were not a part of any Chinese plot to overthrow America. They wanted to make as much money as they could and severely mismanaged Full Tilt Poker. Even Lock Poker is rumored to have been driven out of business primarily by the greed of one person.
Do we really think that Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth or any of the major online poker pros affiliated with online poker sites pre-Black Friday were a part of a terrorist organization? Quit laughing! That was supposed to be a serious question, but it is so laughable one cannot help but chuckle.
Focus on Protecting Players and Stay Away from Fear Mongering
Anti-iPoker lobbyists such as Sheldon Adelson use fear mongering as a way to try to persuade individuals over to their side. When their positions are challenged, most of their points crumble due to a lack of evidence.
When lawmakers use similar tactics to try to forward iGaming regulation, they risk the same as we have zero proof that online poker is currently being used to fund terrorism. If that proof exists, bring it to light and then we can discuss intelligently.
Otherwise, leave the fear mongering to those that have no other option to defend their point of view. Supporters of regulation understand the benefits and how it protects players. Those are the topics we should focus on and leave the conspiracy theories to Jesse Venutura.