The New York Times reported today that Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker have come to an agreement with the U.S. government to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for illegal online gambling and fraud. Now, Full Tilt Poker had effectively set up a ponzi scheme, taking money from players and putting it in their pockets. Players saw the money in their accounts and Full Tilt said that they could withdraw it at any time, but it seems that was not the case.
These settlements seem fair since both companies certainly broke the law, but there is a bigger question lurking beneath them: what exactly is the problem with online gambling?
I know opponents of it point to the ease of access and the social problems it could create. But not just do I not think that is a valid reason for banning it, I don’t even think the reason holds up under scrutiny.
Opponents to online gambling are generally the same opponents of gambling in general. They have a strong dislike for it, believing it causes a vast array of social problems including the destruction of family values. This may well be the case, but it is also an extremely paternalistic point of view. Many Americans enjoy gambling and do so responsibly. Ever since the rise of Las Vegas in the early 1930s, gambling has been an accepted, if sometimes looked down upon, part of life.
The question then becomes whether online gambling poses such a greater risk to society than in-person gambling that it should be banned. On this, the answer is unequivocally no: online gambling may in fact pose less of a risk to society than its brick-and-mortar counterpart. Continue reading “Legalize Online Gambling”