Maryland’s governor came out against federally regulated online poker this week. His stance is not moral or security driven. It was purely about the dollar, $519 million of them to be exact. Apparently, Governor Martin O’Malley is concerned that federal online poker might interfere with his state’s lottery and racinos that net the state $519 million annually.
Maryland has already been in the online poker news this year. In the picture (taken by Tim Lemke of odenton.patch.com for another article), Anne Arundel County Police are accepting a $470,000 check. This check came from the cooperation of the police department in an online gambling processor bust. This came from a bust that totaled $33 million. So not only is the Maryland governor concerned about their loss of lottery revenue, I am sure he also enjoys his local police departments receiving their share of civil forfeitures which are a hot topic these days.
In my opinion, this is a disgusting display of protectionism. It is not that Maryland is opposed to gambling, they have horse tracks, slot machines and a lottery, they are just afraid of the competition. Typically, poker players do not play slot machines, play the ponies or buy lottery tickets. Maybe some do, but as a whole, poker players are not general gamblers. Governor O’Malley is ignoring the fact that this could also be a benefit to the state, adding to tax revenue. You never know until you try. Expanding gambling into slots benefited the state even though the lottery and horse racing were already there, why can’t online poker do the same? He is ignorant to think his residents are not already playing online poker. Why not receive revenue from it?
There is also a level of arrogance here that is unbelievable. They are certainly entitled to their opinion, but why should the State of Maryland have any control over the other 49 states? Why do they care if other states are opting in or out of regulated online poker? They should only be concerned about what happens within the borders of their state.
Online poker would not be forced upon them, any online poker scenario that has been proposed has opt out clauses. The scenarios for regulation are opt in by default but states can opt out of online poker, opt out by default but states can opt in, or only states with widespread brick and mortar poker will be opted in. Regardless of how online poker passes, no state will be forced to participate.
There is also another disturbing angle. Governor O’Malley is putting money ahead of his state’s and this country’s liberty and internet freedom. I guess in Governor O’Malley’s opinion, if freedom has the potential of hurting Maryland tax revenue, it cannot be allowed.
Governor O’Malley’s protectionist opinion that interferes with personal liberty and censors the internet should have no sway over Congress. In fact, I feel this shows that the governor has not read any of the online poker proposals since he fails to understand his state would be under no obligation to participate. This makes his opinion even more worthless.
Governor O’Malley is part of what is wrong with this country. No person should be putting state revenue ahead of personal liberty and the freedom of Americans to participate in an activity already allowed in an estimated 85 countries just because there is some chance it could hurt his state’s lottery revenue. This whole position is just protectionism, arrogance and ignorance at its best.