Anybody who doesn’t know that the United States Government has it out for the online poker industry probably also thinks that “Are You Being Served?” is the cornerstone of the BBC’s comedy lineup. This has ruffled the feathers of poker players and poker pros alike. Some online poker sites have defiantly stayed open in spite of Ward Cleaverish attitude toward Texas Hold’em that many elected officials have cultivated. If the U.S. House and Senate decide to acting like a circular firing squad, and pull the trigger on enforcement this summer, PokerStars and FullTilt will be probably leading the horde of poker players that will be chucking British tea and elected officials into Boston Harbor (or any other convenient body of water). Unfortunately the credit card companies aren’t nearly as brave.
It is rare in a capitalist society to see a business enthusiastically saying no to billions of dollars. This is a testament to just how scared Visa and Mastercard are of Obama administration and their Chicago thug tactics. Texas hold’em is worth a fortune in interest and service fees to the credit card companies. If their executives had anything that even resembled a spine, they would be doing what PokerStars has done, and consulted the best lawyers available. In this particular case, the lawyers have said that the holdem site is on perfectly stable legal ground, and PokerStars is almost daring the U.S. Government to stop them.
There are many in the credit card business who probably don’t think that the ban on internet gaming is right. Especially when there is an exception in the law that allows people to bet on horse races online. If they had an ounce of courage they would realize that the Supreme Court had just handed them the club to beat the politicians with. A high court decision states that corporations can throw an unlimited amount of money into political advertisements. The credit card companies should round up a bunch of affable poker pros, and take the case of online holdem right to the people. In the 2010 mid-term elections, incumbent politicians (especially those with a D after their names) are about as popular as syphilis. They don’t need one more company with deep pockets attacking them for the next 10 months. The threat alone would probably be enough to get them to either back off the enforcement of the law, or amend the law to extend the horse racing exception to online poker. We will never know because Visa and Mastercard have simply backed away. I know taking on the law is tough, but sometimes you just have to man-up and grow a set.