Obama: Worse Than Bush on Bullshit Gambling Moralizing, Too

Friday, April 15th, 2011

The Obama Justice Department has indicted executives from the three largest online poker sites—Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars—on charges of money laundering and bank fraud.

This is the by far the most serious federal attack on online poker to date. I just checked my Full Tilt account. The site still appears to be up, but it isn’t accepting payments. Or at least it didn’t accept mine. The L.A. Times article linked above says Full Tilt’s website was down with an FBI seizure notice put up in its place. But as of this writing, it appears to be back up.

Good to know where the DOJ’s priorities lie. In this case, it’s preventing millions of people from consensually wagering money in online card games, an exchange that causes no harm to anyone else.

I predict this is going to prove to be a politically foolish move. Poker players are young, wealthy, and tend to be progressive on social issues. Reaction from the Poker Players Alliance here.

Reason on online gambling here.

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57 Responses to “Obama: Worse Than Bush on Bullshit Gambling Moralizing, Too”

  1. #1 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    O yeah, have any of you checked out the Steve Albini poker board thread circa summer 2006? Worth reading for indie music / poker fans and I can probably find the link if anybody is interested.

  2. #2 |  ThinkAnarchy | 

    I was so pissed off about this last night. I just deposited $75 into Full Tilt, seeing as I’m only an occasional online player. The money has still not been withdrawn from my checking account, and after inquiring about it, I was wondering why so many people on forums were saying their deposits were taking months to process. Now it makes perfect sense.

    By the way, thanks government. Harrahs doesn’t give me as much bonus money as online casino’s, nor can I buy into micro tournaments. Full Tilt also does not charge $5 every dealer change simply to sit at the table, plus the rake.

    The only positive I can see coming from this is that more people will consider anarchism, or at the least, libertarianism.

    If I had thousands of dollars in these accounts that are now frozen, or was simply relying on profits from online poker play, I’d likely go postal.

  3. #3 |  André | 

    How hard is it for Obama to realize that it’s none of the government’s fucking business what happens between two consenting adults?

    And as long as the government runs lotteries and collects taxes from brick-and-mortar casinos, they can suck it when it comes to arguing about “protecting compulsive gamblers”.

  4. #4 |  donttread | 

    Once again, a demonstration that having the Democrats in control of the Washington bureaucracy does not even get us the consolation prize of more respect for civil liberties. Republicans are a mixed bag ranging from very good to scary, but Democrats are through and through the party of state control.

  5. #5 |  JOR | 

    Well, whenever there’s Republicans in power you have some libertarians swearing up and down how awful the Republicans are, how we never actually get anything remotely like economic freedom from them, and how the Democrats are a mixed bag but the Republicans are the party of theocracy and etc., etc. Just, really.

    The mistake, as always, is to think that the Democrats or Republicans are really “about” anything other than opposing each other for nominal power. There’s no solid, fixed ideas or policies to either of them. They’re not even exactly tribal entities – rather they’re ever-shifting confederations of ever-changing tribal loyalties. None of this is to say that people who identify with one side or the other are never motivated by ideas or philosophical scruple (for better or worse), only that the sides themselves, broadly speaking, are not defined by such things. More importantly, which of the two is (rather nominally and very temporarily) in charge is not really a deciding factor in the direction the country moves in.

    Repeating once again, Democrats do not support “personal” or “civil” liberties, per se. And Republicans do not support “economic” liberties, per se. For that matter, their policies and goals don’t really fall on either side of other entirely artificial and intellectually futile distinctions libertarians are fond of – be it “individualism” versus “collectivism”, or “positive liberty” versus “negative liberty”, or “capitalism” versus “socialism”, or “public” versus “private” rights and interests, or whatever is being put forward as the Grand Unified Theory of Political Philosophy.

  6. #6 |  DarkEFang | 

    #47 Buddy Hinton –

    “I am basically sympathetic with Mr. Balko on this, and pls don’t take me wrong, but what is the good answer when someone asks: why not channel the gambling impulse into playing stocks?”

    I can play a mini-tournament for $5. I can’t even pay the fee for a stock transaction for that.

  7. #7 |  News Items: Internet Gambling and Agriculture | Cato @ Liberty | 

    […] a better stance on civil liberties from the Obama administration.  To quote my former colleague Radley Balko (language warning): “Good to know where the DOJ’s priorities lie. In this case, it’s […]