The shift towards legalisation of online poker in the United States is fascinating to watch, albeit somewhat glacial at times. There are many ups and downs in this process of bringing online poker to individual states.
Just after the introduction of UIGEA many people believed that California was going to be the first to provide a regulated environment permitting online poker within the state. Unfortunately, this as yet has not come to pass and now with Washington DC being the most recent to trip up in their attempt to legalise online poker. However, the train keeps rolling and other states have picked up on the reality that online gaming is a potential winner for any state.
Most recently in this ongoing saga saw Commonwealth of Massachusetts Representative Dan Winslow file an amendment to provide the introduction on legalised online poker within Massachusetts. As a side note, there is a certain irony in how Representative Winslow’s proposal was introduced when one considers how UIGEA came to pass.
One of the fundamental arguments for the legalisation of online poker revolves around the definition of the game. Broadly speaking, games of chance are frowned upon, where as games of skill are permitted. So the question is; what type of game is poker? There will always be an element of chance within the game of poker, but this does not detract from the overall fact that poker is a game of skill. Were it not a game of skill, then we would not have people who make a very healthy living playing poker, and contributing a significant amount in tax.
Poker is a game of skill. Fact. Choices are made based primarily upon mathematical calculations, plus a small element of what might be. Those skilled in the game can make good returns on their initial investment. Those not so skilled can lose their stake. This is just the same as trading on the stock market, but we wouldn’t dream of closing down Wall Street.
Representative Winslow correctly observes that state-regulated online poker provides confidence for the players, job creation in the high-tech sector and much needed revenue for the state. Whether Massachusetts manages to pass the legislation and become the first state to legalise online poker, or they are a runner up in this race, we’ll have to wait until 2012 to see. To see another state throw its hat into the ring is most welcome, since it will be the residents of the state who stand to benefit from such a law.