This is from Andrew Cohen, who “won a Murrow Award as one of the nation’s leading legal analysts and commentators.” This statement, in defense of the prosecution of the owners of online poker sites, will call that award into question:
Friedersdorf’s lament about the current demise of three major online poker sites is easier to address. Just because something is wildly popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is victimless. And just because criminal conduct doesn’t affect everyone doesn’t mean it affects no one. There are plenty of victims of (allegedly) illegal online poker, starting with the desperately-short-of-cash federal and state governments which are deprived of all the taxable revenue ($3 billion, say the feds) from the now-suspected operations.
The government is the victim of illegal online poker because it is deprived of the revenue it might otherwise get. But of course, the only reason it is deprived of that revenue is because it chooses to prosecute online poker instead of explicitly legalizing and regulating it. The online poker sites have all but gotten down on their knees and begged the U.S. government to make online poker explicitly legal, regulated — and yes, taxed. They want to locate in the United States and be regulated here and taxed here because they know that it will build confidence for American players to deposit their money. So the “victim” here is actually the perpetrator.
And just ask casino and horse racing executives what they think of the way online poker operators have taken advantage of Congressional fecklessness on the topic.
Well sure, because any business that can’t count on the government to stamp out their competition is obviously a victim, right? Just ask the horse and buggy industry what they think of the way the government didn’t make cars illegal in order to preserve their monopoly. Who did this guy screw to win an award for legal commentary?