I’m not a big fan of online gambling, particularly poker. I think it preys on weak, addictive personalities and all too often can destroy innocent lives. And my feelings are shared by the U.S. government which has made online poker illegal. But not everyone agrees with either me or the U.S. government about banning Internet gambling. Richard “Skip” Bronson, for example, the co-founder and chairman of U.S. Digital Gaming (USDG), a company that provides a suite of technologies for legal online gambling, is – not surprisingly, given USDG’s products – a leading advocate of legalizing online poker. Bronson wants to change the law and transform online poker from what he says is a murky offshore business into a highly regulated industry.
One way or the other, Bronson told me when he joined me on Skype, online poker is eventually going to legalized. This inevitability, he explained, is due to the bankruptcy of many U.S. states and their desperate need to collect tax revenue from online gambling. Even in states like Nevada where casinos are critical to the local economy, Bronson told me, online poker is attractive because it can be used to drive business to brick-and-mortar gambling establishments. And this is a good thing, Bronson insists, because it will make online poker not only “safer” but will also guarantee the privacy of gamblers’ data.
So is Bronson right? Is the legalization of online poker inevitable in America? And, if so, is allowing consenting adults to play online poker a good thing?