US Debt Crisis Could Save Online Poker

by | Published: Friday, August 19th, 2011

With the current economic turmoil being felt across the United States and indeed most of the world it’s hard to fathom the situation being good for anyone, least of all online poker.

It’s an industry that relies on customers having a free flowing bank account and sufficient funds to healthily support their hobby, or in some cases their career.

However while it may seem like all doom and gloom on Wall Street and around the Whitehouse, this situation could actually be beneficial for online poker.

At the end of the day the situation is that President Obama needs to find more money, a lot more money.

In fact over the coming decade the United States government needs to find almost one and a half trillion in new revenue or spending cuts.

That’s a monumental ask at the best of times, let alone given that they are also trying to do so without levies to income tax thresholds.

That’s where online poker comes in, it gives the Government a unique opportunity to create a whole new revenue stream that as yet doesn’t exist.

The plan quite simply would be to legalise the industry while their own measure son it which give them a much needed boost of funds.

It seems like the logical outcome but once again it will come down to the Republicans and the Democrats putting aside their party lines to do what’s best for the country.

As yet it’s something that hasn’t happened but according to Senate majority leader Harry Reid there is hope yet.

The Nevada based senator gave an optimistic outlook when questioned about the future of online poker saying that it, “will get done”.

It’s given a renewed sense of confidence to the Poker Players Alliance with executive director John Pappas saying they will at least take the first step.

“I think there’s a very good chance we’re going to get in the discussion,” he said.

“Whether it makes it into the final recommendation is the question.”

As it stands the Government is working under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the agreement reached earlier in the month which raised the debt ceiling level allowing the country to accrue even more debt.

The fact is that the Government has a massive task on their hands and the legalisation of online poker one way or another actually isn’t an area of high importance.

They need to find a number of ways to increase to decrease the debt in the treasury and online poker will simply be one aspect of sweeping reforms.

That’s probably a good thing for the poker industry as it certainly limits the amount of blunt opposition it can receive due to the fact doing nothing on the broader scope is no longer an option.

The tough thing here though is the fact that the committee needs to come to a majority agreement.

That’s not going to be easy given the six and six makeup between republicans and democrats.

It would be almost impossible to see a single member breaking party lines due to the fact the selected members were chosen due to the fierce loyalty to their leader.

That means it would need to be a complete bipartisan agreement, history tells us that’s far from a smooth process.

In the end then these are the people who will likely decide the fate of online poker.

The 12 members are Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Democratic Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Republican Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Fred Upton (Mich.).

These politicians have been far from supportive of online poker in the past, but that’s no the be all and end all given the different context that things will be viewed through now.

That being said it looks like some individuals could be more crucial than others.

“The people holding the cards I think will be Kyl and Reid,” Pappas said.

“Even though Reid is not on the commission, he appointed people who are. If Kyl and Reid can compromise on a deal to include online poker, I think it can happen. It’s handing Congress revenue without raising taxes, which is exactly what they’re looking for.”

Kyl wrote on his website earlier in 2011 that he would be willing to debate the legalisation of online poker providing that certain areas of the unlawful gambling enforcement act were strengthened.

Will these developments may be a cause for optimism among the online poker world they are far from being giant steps in the right direction.

As yet the committee doesn’t even has a start date and there’s no way to tell how high on the priority list they determine this proposal to be.

It’s a complex issue given the government would also need to work out how they would tax the industry, how much money they’d make form the industry and how they would go about implementing and enforcing their controls.

The Poker Players Alliance is attempting to cease this new opportunity as best they can with calls for players to petition all the members of the committee as well as their own political representatives.


“If we’re able to get a lot of PPA members tuned up to contact members of the committee and say to include online poker, I think when it comes up in their discussions that it will be much more palatable to them than if they go into this without any understanding that there are a bunch of people out there who care about this,” Pappas said.

“We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket but, if we’re looking at something between now and the end of the year, this is our best shot.”

While any decision on online poker websites hosted in the United States will still be months away, that doesn’t mean you need to wait that long to start playing yourself.

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