When Government Gets Into Our Online Lives
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 19, 2011
As many of you know, I love playing poker. I love going to the casino when I can and I love playing online as well at Pokerstars. One of the best things about playing online was that I didn’t have to have any money to play, and if I played well I could actually earn real money, which I did if you remember the post where I compared blogging to poker.
Recently I won my way into what’s called a satellite tournament which gave me another nice opportunity to win money, and relatively big money. It wasn’t scheduled to start until May, which shows you how big a deal it is because smaller tournaments start pretty much days after you win your way into one. However, I’m not going to get a chance to play now.
That’s because the U.S. government, via the FBI, did a major raid last week and basically froze the accounts of 3 major online poker sites, as well as confiscated their domain names. Immediately afterwards the site I play at banned all U.S. players from participating in anything that could earn them real money. In essence, even if they were free games that gave you a shot at earning money but you weren’t going to earn any money at that time, they banned you from those games as well, which kind of makes sense since we’re not allowed to earn money from them, but it’s irksome.
Frankly, I’m not saying the government was wrong in this big bust they did because these companies found a way around U.S. laws in tricking credit card companies to process payments geared towards getting around the law. What I’m mad at is that the law was passed in the first place.
In essence, the law was attached as a rider to a bigger law in 2006 that was to help protect our borders at waterways. Since we’re still conscious of terrorism at all ports (except at Mexican borders, but I digress) there wasn’t a politician that wanted to be seen as not voting for this bill. This is how government works in this country unfortunately; things get added to good bills all the time that make no sense and aren’t fair, and then it’s left up to someone to make a major decision as to what’s more important at the time.
I think this all stinks, yet it shows that the U.S. government isn’t all that far removed from other governments we heard about over the past few months that have tried to stifle the internet so that “rebels” could tell the world what was going on in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, China and Iran. Many people said at the time that the U.S. could never do such a thing and wouldn’t even try doing something like that; it hadn’t occurred to me at the time that they already had, just in a small dose.
So, until this law is changed, it looks like I won’t be playing poker online anymore. I never paid for any of it, but that’s not the point. With the government confiscating their domain name it pretty much emasculates much of the online game in all ways. And it’s not that I didn’t play some games that were totally free for “play money”; one would think I’d still enjoy that.
But not having the option to take a chance, to see what I’m made of in competing for actual money… something about that has sapped the steam out of my wanting to play online right now. There’s an action committee that’s being spearheaded by a former senator, oddly enough someone who probably would have voted for the bill when he was a senator because it would have made his particular constituency happy. It’s so funny that Republicans say they want to leave people alone and get government out of our hair, and in this case they decided to make the government the ultimate police in protecting those poor souls that had no control over themselves and spent themselves bankrupt.
Yeah, I’m irked; it stinks. And this type of thing should have us all looking over our shoulders; what will the government take away from us next?