Don’t forget about live poker

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Somewhere in a plush boardroom in the middle of Washington, D.C., the U.S. Congress “debt supercommittee” is meeting today with an aggressive mandate to save our country from financial peril.

Several congressional watchers say this committee is the best opportunity online poker supporters have had (or perhaps will have) to see the industry recognized and supported by the federal government. When the amount you’re trying to save is not millions, not even billions, but a trillion, any possible revenue source, and especially an expansive one like online poker, is sure to get thoughtful consideration.

But a reader of Ante Up recently wrote us inquiring why all the hubbub in Washington is over online poker. If poker is a game of skill, as we all know it is, why not write a federal law allowing for it to be played not only online, but live, anywhere from sea to shining sea?

Ante Up always has focused on live poker and the great rooms in our country where men and women can look opponents in the eye. So count us among those who would support that idea enthusiastically. But also count us among those who know the odds of legislation like that to be longer than even those facing online poker.

Despite all of this, there is cause of optimism that we’ll see live poker spread from state to state. Massachusetts is determined to legalize casinos and live poker. If that push comes to fruition, Massachusetts will be only the latest domino in the spread of gaming in America. And it’s unlikely to be the last.

We’re never fond of the “times are tough, so let’s legalize gaming” sentiment. We believe it’s entertainment that’s acceptable and desirable regardless of the economic climate, but the reality is movements like this catch fire when times are tough. And times are tough.

So while we doubt we’ll see a federal bill authorizing live poker everywhere, optimism exists that more states will see the fallacy in resisting offering this great game to its residents. We’re in the midst of a “sweet spot” where opposition to poker is literally melting before our eyes. It’s up to each of us to write our state and federal lawmakers to make sure they know this is an opportunity they shouldn’t miss.

We’ll see you at the tables.

— Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long