Dumb Question Time

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007, 6:18 pm

As the title of this post announces, I have a dumb question–Could an online poker site run a commercial arguing why online poker should be legalized? Like, could PokerStars, Full Tilt, UltimateBet, etc get together and, say, buy a 60-second commercial during the Super Bowl? Would that be legal? Would the network run it?

Could this be an effective way to get the legalize-poker message out there to the 50 million Americans who allegedly play the game? The Super Bowl is the biggest wagering day of the year and it’s typically the most-watched event of the year. And some people pay more attention to the commercials than the game itself. How about a 60-second spot where, oh, Howard Lederer and Greg Raymer and Annie Duke (each representing a different site) pitch this idea to the American public. They could:

  • explain the underhanded way the UIGEA was passed
  • point out the hypocrisy of those who say that online poker is detrimental to society, as lotteries and horse racing were exempted
  • point out that people with gambling problems are those most likely to try to circumvent the laws (and therefore are most likely to be exploited by unscrupulous operators)
  • say that most people play poker for fun, be it online or with friends or family
  • that poker players aren’t criminals, and that they shouldn’t be treated as such
  • that the ban on poker is merely another attempt by the government to dictate how you should live your life
  • explain that if poker was legalized, regulated, and taxed it would allow the government to protect players from shady sites, provide aid to those with gambling problems, and raise billions in tax revenue

I’m sure I’m missing some important points here, but would this be legal? Perhaps “legal” is the wrong word here, thanks to the twilight zone we find ourselves in. Would a network show something like this? They broadcast poker 24/7, but I don’t know if they (or, more importantly, the FCC) would let it see the light of day.

Like I said, it may be a dumb question. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

UPDATE: I should say that I posted this in lieu of a much-longer piece about the whole Neteller arrest awfulness and how we’re all about to jump in the handbag for our trip to Hell. Instead of just wondering how bad things are going to get I’m trying to think of ways to make things better. Extravagant, fanciful things.

UPDATE UPDATE: Neteller will no longer service US customers, so far as gambling transactions go. So, that blows. That’s about all I can say about that. No, it also sucks. It sucks and it blows.

Anticipating today’s bad news, my UltimateBet overlords have announced a 100% bonus up to $650 for players who make a deposit using methods other than Neteller. Fight the good fight.

UPDATE AGAIN: DoubleAs makes a couple of points that I cravenly didn’t bring up earlier in this post. Namely, shouldn’t the WTO get involved here? The two men arrested didn’t do anything illegal in their own country, nor did they have any relationship with Neteller besides being shareholders. Neteller is, after all, a publicly-traded company. As Amy Calistri mentioned in one of her PokerNews pieces, if MGM did something naughty, could majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian find himself surrounded by FBI agents? This assumes a universe where billionaires go to prison. And a government that cares about the rule of law.

Also, isn’t the field wide-open for someone to step in and take over for Neteller? As Scott says, you just need to live in a country that won’t extradite you and choose not to visit our fair country. One would think some manner of drug lord or cartel or plutocrat would look upon this as an ideal way of diversifying their portfolio. Much preferable to a publicly traded company like Neteller. Prohibition at work.

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7 Responses to “Dumb Question Time”

  1. Ryan Says:

    I don’t think this is a dumb question at all, and I’m looking forward to the responses from the smart kids in the class.

  2. The Litvak Says:

    Would it be legal? Yes, it would be legal for a corporation to pay for an ad arguing that something illegal should be made legal.

    Would the network run it? I don’t know– I’m a lawyer, not an ad exec. My guess is that a tasteful ad with a very high price tag will show anywhere, anytime.

    Would there be better ways to spend money to promote the same end? Okay, you didn’t ask, but the answer is probably “yes.”

    Lobbyists are the people who lobby members of Congress. The Super Bowl ad, on the other hand, is where you get people who’ve already heard of your company to think it’s really cool. Also, there are places to advertise to the people who already agree with you– and what you’d need to do is mobilize those people, not convince everyone who watches the Super Bowl that you’re right.

  3. Drizztdj Says:

    I don’t understand why Neteller shut down if the two shareholders and EX-employees no longer worked for the company and didn’t when the “investigation/sting operation” took place.

    But now I’m free to blow my bankroll on TooDrunkToCall in the #5 race at Aqueduct!

  4. jjok Says:

    I think my question would be why should the WTO get involved? If they do, they should be questioning the law, more than the arrests.

    I personally don’t think these guys did anything wrong, but if neteller knowingly allowed US citizens to perform acts that are deemed illegal by US law (which Neteller did), then members of neteller should be held liable if they step foot in this country…….

    I am hugely disgusted by the passing of this law……

  5. Darcy Says:

    Here’s my dumb question: would the ad be funny?

  6. Jack Says:

    I’m a poker fan and I think that there shouldn’t be a problem to allow online poker comapnies to buy commercial time during big events like the Super Bowl. On the contrary, I think it is a good idea. Even online casino companies such as casino 888 advertise their logo on soccer teams’ shirts in the premier and the spanish leauge.

  7. mickey Says:

    The online gambling sites have been making billions. The DOJ hasn’t bothered the lowly individual players; it’s working on eliminating the competition to our friendly American casinos, who have probably been hard at work developing their own software to launch U.S.-based online casinos. And who knows what financial processors will be able to step in where NETeller has been blocked? Could be any of our banks, at some later date.

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