Poker as a Revenue Source for Governments

By: Rose kelin

Even in the 21st century, many shortsighted governments continue anti-gaming (and thus anti-poker) policies for no discernable reason other than habit, and lump poker in with ‘house’ games like roulette. Their knee-jerk arguments hearken back to a day when going and having a flutter was thought to be a one-way ticket to hell.

Today, folks know this isn’t the case, but government policies haven’t followed suit. In the UK, USA and many capitals throughout Europe, the people’s representatives haven’t realised that poker is not only an enjoyable and largely harmless activity, but it can also fill government coffers as well. In a classic case of governments overstepping their bounds, they miss out on billions of dollars – in return for which they get to tell grown, free-thinking adults what they can and can’t do with their hard-earned money.

While the UK and USA are acting like their money will never run out, at least one country is starting to get smart: Bulgaria. Officials from that nation recently gathered to brainstorm how Bulgaria can incorporate gaming into its tourism strategy, and how to find a ‘middle ground’ on online gaming.

“Gambling tourism is a resource Bulgaria has not exploited. A national gambling development programme needs to be drawn up as part of the tourism industry,” said Deputy Finance Minister Atanas Kunchev. It’s not rocket science – you promote what you have, whether it’s climate, beaches, culture or gaming. With a possible recession looming and many governments drowning in red ink, as they say in poker: “Don’t leave money on the table.”

Around the felt, that means don’t miss bets that you would have won. In government, it means don’t miss out on revenue that you could easily have had. And in the UK, that should mean giving people what they want. You don’t put a ridiculous 15 percent tax on poker websites, because no one will locate here. Thus, you get zip. A light tax would have brought job-creating websites here to be regulated and taxed. The UIGEA in the U.S. is the same type of mistake. Despite running a huge deficit, the Bush Administration is fighting online gaming in a big way.

Nothing these governments did stopped people from gaming on the Internet – all they did was miss out on billions in tax revenue that could have been used for the common good. And you can add the recent nixing of the ‘super casino’ to this list of mistakes.

There are fewer and fewer well-paying jobs around these days. We don’t need governments to protect us morally. We can do that ourselves, thank you. What we need governments to do is help protect us financially. And you don’t do that by leaving money on the table. For further

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