Jason Somerville has taken the fight for regulated poker in the US to CNBC with an appearance on the network’s Power Lunch program.
Appearing on the show alongside anti-online poker advocate Rev. James Butler, Somerville spoke candidly about the industry and gave the mainstream media an insight into what many of us already know.
The debate started with host Tyler Mathisen asking Butler why he thought California’s potential move into the regulated poker realm is a bad idea.
As expected, the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion member did his best to paint the idea of regulation in a negative light.
Picking up on what he believes is the economic fallacy surrounding online gambling, Butler explained that states could actually lose money by legalized the industry.
“The studies indicate that there is a three to one loss for states and governments that use gambling as an economic resource,” Butler said.
When asked how that’s possible, Butler elaborated.
“That occurs through the social and economic cost of increases in crime, unemployment, welfare, homelessness and bankruptcy to name just a few,” explained Butler.
When pressed on whether online poker really does have an impact on crime rates, Butler stuck to his position.
“They have found a correlation between increases in any type of gambling, Internet gambling included, with some of these negative consequences,” Butler responded.
Although Butler didn’t explain who “they” were or what the data actually showed with regards to these “correlations,” he remained confident in his answer.
Showing he had done his research on the subject, Mathisen brought Somerville into the discussion by pointing out that the US is in a minority when it comes to its stance against online poker.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans are already playing online poker, but they’re playing on unsafe, unregulated sites where they don’t know if the games are square and they don’t know if their money is safe,” said Somerville.
As you’d expect, Somerville took a moment to promote his sponsor’s efforts during his defense of the industry by explaining how PokerStars is pushing for regulation in a bid to make the industry safer for everyone.
Coming back at Somerville, Butler simply said that if the government really wants to protect players then it would simply enforce UIGEA and shutdown all sites regardless of whether people want to play or not.
Fortunately, the show’s hosts fired back with some commonsense by asking where we should be drawing the line when it comes to telling people what they can and can’t do with their own money.
Overall, Somerville did a fine job of representing the community, but how the general republic responds to the debate will probably be determined by their preexisting ideas of the industry.