More on the Barton Bill

In my opinion, the Barton Bill leaves a lot to be desired in terms of regulating online gaming in the US, but I support it for one simple reason – it’s a step in the right direction.
Having laws that are consistent and make logical sense should be a goal of any society. Laws that aren’t logically congruent create confusion and unpredictability. For example, if you know that it is illegal in most situations to punch someone in the face, slice them with a sword, or shoot them with a gun, you can infer that it is likely also illegal to stab them with a knife. Most people can arrive at that conclusion easily because it is consistent and makes logical sense. In most societies of which I am aware around the world (including the US and all 50 states), that is the way laws and rules and regulations and the like are constructed.
Gambling is often defined as risking something of value for the possibility of winning a prize, the outcome of which is based to some degree on chance. (For the sake of this discussion I am lumping poker into the large bucket of activities that fall within that definition. I’ll save the argument of whether poker should typically be lumped in with other forms of gambling for another day.) In the US, laws that apply to “gambling” are not logically consistent, and therefore are not constructed in a way that benefits society.
Some activities that are closely analogous with the risks associated with playing poker, such as day trading or farming, are not only legal – they are well regarded and encouraged. Participation in lotteries and raffles is also often well regarded and encouraged, even though they are forms of gambling typically with the worst odds and involve the least amount of skill. Poker, on the other hand, which requires aptitude in math, sociology, critical thinking, attention to detail and many other areas that are highly regarded, remains frowned upon by the law (although it is widely accepted in mainstream America). These elements are all logically inconsistent, and it should be a goal of ours as Americans to move our laws in a more sensible direction. While not ideal, I believe the Barton Bill is the first step in a journey of a thousand miles toward that destination, and that’s why I support it.

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