Saturday, April 16, 2011

This table is now closed!

We can all breathe a deep sigh of relief as our government is hard at work keeping us safe from the scourge of online poker.

On Friday, los federales effectively shut down three online poker sites after unsealing indictments alleging bank fraud and money laundering on the part of the executives at PokerStarts, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

The indictments allege that the sites circumvented a 2006 law forbidding US financial institutions from handling transactions for online gambling sites -- most of which are owned and operated outside the United States. The US government is seeking more that $3 billion in money laundering penalties and

Now let's be clear on this, no US-based financial institution lost any money as a result of the alleged fraud. Money passed through the banks on its way to customers and owners of the online poker sites. The only folks who lost money were the players themselves.

Our military forces are stuck in a quagmire in the Middle East (didn't see that coming, did you?). TSA employees are groping 6-year-olds (and parents just stand there and watch). The government's heading for a shutdown because lawmakers are realizing there just isn't enough money that can be whacked from the budget (unless someone looks under the mattress at the Pentagon). Unemployment remains high and the rising cost of fuel is threatening to put a damper on the economic recovery. Schools are laying off teachers and the Fourth and Sixth Amendments are under assault daily.

But at least we don't have to worry about people playing poker on their computers.

In the meantime you can still play government-sponsored lotteries that transfer money from the poor to state treasuries. You can still bet on the ponies and the dogs at your local horse or greyhound track. You can even go to legal casinos across the country and burn your money at the slot machines. But no online poker.

That online gambling is bad and the government never could figure out a way to get its hands on the money.

And ultimately, that's what this was all about. It was a giant cash grab by los federales. Meanwhile, the people who cooked the books with the mortgage lenders and banks are still out enjoying cocktails after work with nary a fear of getting pinched by the feds. But going after those crooks would require the government to admit that their regulators were either incompetent or in on the swindle from the get-go.

Almost like watching somone backdoor a flush to top the set you made on the flop.

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