May 4, 2006

Washington State Criminalizes Poker

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Land of the free?

Thirty years ago, when I was 16, I realized that in 30 years, when my generation was running things, they would open up all the jails and let out the pot smokers, since we all knew it was safer than either tobacco or alcohol and simply evil to lock people up who hadn’t harmed anyone except perhaps themselves. Today, 80% of Americans are against imprisoning pot smokers and yet we still have more people in prison than the Soviet Union did under Stalin. Apparently 30 years wasn’t enough.

Meanwhile, while all poker players’ eyes are on Washington’s annual failed effort to ban Internet gambling, the other Washington, my home State, quietly passed a law banning Internet gambling and specifically including poker. While they were at it, they made it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


Poker is legal in Washington State. We have always had card rooms and now we have big Indian megacasinos. Yet under the pretext that unregulated gambling is a social evil, they have made it a felony to play online poker in the privacy of your own home. Mind you, this bill was passed unanimously in the State Senate and almost that in the House.

What are they thinking?

I am seriously concerned about the future of this country. Why is the government so preoccupied with legislating morality? Do they really believe they can do good? When has it ever worked in history? Or have every single one of them been bought off by Indian gaming hoping to stifle competition?

It’s been a bad week.