The Commerce Casino in California, the largest poker room in the U.S., and a mecca for west coast poker enthusiasts, recently stated its opposition to H.R. 2267, Rep. Barney Frank’s legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker. I have two main reactions to this stance. First, a business has every right to, in fact is designed to, do what is in its best economic interest. Second, opposing the legislation is short-sighted.
I’m assuming that the Commerce Casino stance is premised on a belief that more people playing online will mean fewer people in its establishment. Which translates to less rake and concessions. In other words, less revenue. If this was true, the Commerce’s position would be correct. But I do not believe it to be true. Legalizing online poker will expand the pie. Its tide will rise all boats. Or whatever metaphor you prefer. Legalization likely will result in more people interested in and playing poker than are now. Initially, most of these new players will be online — that is the intention of the law after all. But as we all know, even the staunchest of online poker advocates dabble in live poker from time to time. So, if more people are playing poker online, it stands to reason that eventually (and probably soon) there should be an increase in live players as well. Being the largest poker room in the country, and in California to boot, the Commerce should receive a significant portion of the increased action. To vote against legalizing online poker is myopic.
It is myopic for another reason. Commerce regulars are revolting against the casino’s stance and threatening to boycott the poker room. Apparently, live poker players enjoy online poker as well (who knew!). Or at least commiserate with their online compatriots. The Commerce’s stance is costing it business even before online poker is legalized.
Poker is one community. Regardless of whether you prefer online or live. It’s similar to how Democrats and Republicans are all Americans. Our similarities are greater than our differences. Poker has been under attack for some time. All poker players should stand united. Doing so will help all. (I mean, can you just imagine the influx of fresh meat for the Commerce Casino sharks? It might be like 2003-05 –the Golden Age — all over again.)
**FYI — I will be on vacation next week. I’ll try to post while away, but do not yet know if I will have internet access. If I don’t, I will post soon after my return as I know you will be chomping at the bit. Have a great Labor Day!