As part of my new job I read a half dozen daily e-mail news letters to stay up to speed on what's going on in the worlds of technology, the web, advertising and online media. One of the newsletters I skim a few times a week is Mashable.
On Sunday Mashable had an article about the shutdown of Pokerstars, Fulltilt, and Absolute Poker part of which was a poll. More interesting than the poll results was the question - "Should online gambling be illegal."
This is a much different question that should online *poker* be illegal. Even though this is an online poker story and series of events, Mashable has done what so many other news outlets have done in the past and lump poker together with other forms of wagering.
So should online gambling be illegal? Probably. Games of chance that have totally fixed odds (meaning they're always the same not 'The Fix is in!' - actually the fix is in and everyone knows it) and little or no chance for the player to affect the outcome do not belong on the Internet. Those are my personal feelings, but frankly I can't back them up with logic.
If you want to be a total fuck head and play online craps it really shouldn't be up to the federal government to make that decision for you. They're not trying to save you from buying a TV that costs as much as a months pay or buying some sweet rims for that 86' Buick Skylark.
You can go spend $5,000 on Superbowl tickets for a game that lasts 3 hours and most people would think that it's fine if you want to spend your money that way. But most of those same people would think you were totally nuts if you went to a casino and lost $5,000 even if it took you a week. To them it doesn't matter if you had a great time. All that matters is that they know that gambling is bad and wrong and you shouldn't do it because that's been beaten into their brain from the time they were 5 years old.
Should wagering on games of skill online be illegal? Absolutely not! (If you'd like to argue that poker is a game of chance and not a game of skill, just don't - you're wrong). Don't tell me what I can and can't spend my money on. If I want to piss it all away, that's up to me.
I'm in favor of any game with any element of skill being played for money online. I'm talking everything from Chess to Hearts to board games. I'd love to play a winner take all game of Monopoly for $5 every now and then.
Now some of you might say Monopoly is a game of chance. I would disagree there, but would say there's room for debate. I tend to think that anything that involves decisions and certainly negotiation of trades means it's a skill game with an element of short term luck. Think about it this way, do you think you could beat an average 10 year old more times than not?
So what was the exact poll at Mashable and what were the results?
Yes, it's now a victimless crime and people will do it anyway - 2,888 votes (53%)
No, it makes it too easy for people to become addicted to gambling - 793 votes (15%)
Maybe, if it's tightly regulated to prevent cheating and fraud - 1,727 votes (32%)
I have to say that this poll is garbage because they didn't ask the right question and they put to many qualifiers in the answers. Can't I think no without the reason being my concern for gambling addicts? Can't I think maybe without my only concern being cheating and fraud?
What's interesting is that despite what the average American might think online poker on the sites that were just shut down was EXTREMELY regulated to prevent cheating and fraud. Now players will be shifting to other less reputable sites which are less regulated and more dangerous.
Even with my complaints I'd like to note that only 15% of people said flat out no.
What do you think? Leave me some comments if you have an opinion.