Probably. There are, however, some legitimate concerns (I play poker online, but the following works for all online gambling.):
[ol][li]Online poker seems more abstract than actual poker with chips, etc. You just see the same interface and numbers next to names. It doesn’t really feel like you’re dealing with money. As such, some people are more prone to lose greater amounts of money.*[/li]
[li]Fraud is as easy as sitting at a table, opening up AIM, and telling your friends what you have. It’s impossible to stop. I was particularly struck by this when I started playing at a table and realized I was playing with a guy who lived across the hall from me. We could have opened up the door and yelled “I have a flush” or whatever.[/li]
[li]It’s easier to play impulsively. I can sign on and lose all of my money in the time it would take to drive to the nearest casino.[/li]
[li]Kids can play even without benefit of a good fake ID. There is no way to tell whether or not a player is just lying. The sites ask “Are you 18?” and you say “Yes”, whether you can prove that is never an issue.[/li]
[li]Look at point #2, and let that sink in. I immediately thought about how easy cheating would be, and I’m an honest player. There are thousands of unscrupulous players out there who would have jumped at the chance to cheat.[/li]
[li]If legislated, it must be at a federal level. Individual states have little to no ability to impact what is on the internet, whereas the United States has at least some ability to do so.[/ol][/li]
Additionally, online poker sites are generally for ages 18+, whereas casinos are age 21+. This isn’t in the list, since an age limit could be imposed without an outright ban.
From a practical standpoint, it’s impossible to stop online gambling. Many (most?) of these sites are located overseas, including pretty much all of the ones that you see advertised on TV. I believe that PokerStars is run by a legal, publicly traded British company. And unless the Congress wants to cut the fiberoptic lines out of the country, they can’t stop people from playing.
All that said, I’m against the ban, especially when lotteries are legal in very goddamned state I’ve ever been to. There’s a reason why there are professional poker players and not professional lottery players. But those in favor of this ban aren’t just blowing smoke.
- I’d argue that casinos use poker chips instead of cash at the table for the same reason, and having a simple number instead of chips is an extension of that. It was certainly true for me when I started playing.