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Forbes on Obama and Internet Poker: Plays Like Nixon, Bullies Like Bush

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/13/2011
Obama and Internet Poker:

Forbes.com Daniel Freedman compared US President Barack Obama to both Richard Nixon and George W. Bush when it comes to his poker love/hate relationship.  Sure we sort of know Obama loves to play poker, although not as much as golf (or at least it’s not highly publicized).  Still, it is under his administration that online poker has been nearly dismantled in the US following the April 15 indictments of three major Web cardrooms:  PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and UB.com. 

Granted, the three companies are alleged to have engaged in bank fraud and money laundering activities by disguising transactions for gambling as purchases for dog food and golf balls.  That is obviously a serious crime that could place the nation in jeopardy if, for example, terrorists were engaging in the same activity.  We would be remiss in pointing out the irony that PokerStars was born on September 11, 2011. 

Freedman writes:

Nixon’s love of poker is well documented: He reportedly financed his first campaign with poker winnings, and after reacting badly to losing a hand he was famously reprimanded by fellow poker player, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who told him: “Any guy who hollers over a $40 pot has no business being president.”

Many other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson, were poker players too.

On March 4, 1946, Truman played poker with Winston Churchill till 2:30am while they traveled together to Fulton, Missouri, where Britain’s wartime leader was due to give his historic “Iron Curtain” speech.

What about President Obama? In the Chicago Senate he played in a regular poker game with Republicans and Democrats every Wednesday evening (they started at 7:00pm and often went to 2:00 am). And during the 2008 campaign he listed being “a pretty good poker player” as a “hidden talent.”

Freedman noted that the law leading up to the online poker industry having to “bluff” such transactions, was signed by George W. Bush, and pretty much enforced under Obama’s administration. 

The law, and make sure you follow this, made it illegal for financial institutions to process transactions for online gaming sites, but not illegal for U.S. citizens to play online. After U.S. based sites closed down, foreign companies filled the void for a few years until the April move. Now, if U.S. citizens want to enjoy an American game (poker was developed in the Wild West) on the Internet (also developed in the U.S.) they can only do it in foreign countries.

Regardless of the true motivation behind the April 15 indictments, poker fell victim and that can’t bode well for a nation that has long embraced the game. 

It’s unlikely that history will think much of the Obama Justice Department’s 2011 attack on poker players either.

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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