PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville vs CA’s Anti-Gambling Coalition

Every coin has two sides, just like every major issue can be viewed with two very different lights. In the case of online poker regulation, you have your advocates who support a safe, government mandated environment, and your opposition, who sees it as nothing more than a undesirable expansion of gambling.

In California, the topic of online poker regulation has been widely debated for years now. Legislation has been proposed, discussed and shot down for close to a decade, and the situation doesn’t appear to be getting much better anytime soon as several influential groups have very different opinions on how it should be done, or whether it should be done at all.

Poker Pro Jason Somerville supports Online Poker RegulationJason Somerville, an American professional poker player who’s spent years advocating the growth and development of online poker via his immensely popular JCarverPoker Twitch channel, gained a sponsorship deal with the world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, based on his indubitable skills and commitment to the game’s development. Now, he’s going to bat for PokerStars and other advocates of regulation in California.

On Tuesday, August 9, Jason Somerville appeared on CNBC‘s “Power Lunch”, where he debated the ongoing issue of online poker regulation against Reverend James Butler, Executive Director of the state’s foremost anti-gaming group, the California Coalition Against Gambling (CCAG).

Support for Online Poker Regulation

In support of pending legislation, the bulk of Somerville’s argument rested on the shoulder of an unregulated, offshore market that offers no safety net for American poker players. Without regulation, US players have no other alternative then to visit these unregulated websites, where they are constantly at risk of losing any funds they deposit or win.

I personally have lost tens of thousands of dollars on unregulated online poker sites that have just vanished in the middle of the night,” Somerville said.

He went on to explain that regulation and taxation of online poker would eliminate such issues entirely by giving US players a safe, secure environment subject to strict licensing requirements and consumer protections. Somerville asserted his belief that the government should be responsible for providing such an environment for their people.

Opposing Arguments from CCAG

Rev James Butler, California Coalition Against GamblingButler flipped the coin completely, arguing that regulation of online poker would make a bad situation worse. He, and the CCAG, are of the opinion that legalizing the activity would create more problems that it would solve.

Butler declared that the only way to responsibly handle the situation and create a safe environment is to enforce a prohibition against online poker, enforcing stricter laws that make it illegal for Americans to access unregulated offshore gambling sites.

What happens when you take that much money out of the service economy, the retail economy, the manufacturing economy and put it in a sector that does not have the same economic multipliers?” argued Butler.

Reality of the Current Situation

According to supporters of online poker regulation, Butler’s argument that online poker will take away from the economy is unfounded.

The fact is, it’s already taking away from the economy because all dollars are moving offshore. Prohibition would only cost taxpayers more money to enforce it. Regulation, on the other hand, would come with licensing fees and taxation, bringing that money back on shore and into the government’s coffers where it can be used to fund problem gambling prevention and treatment, among other important projects.

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