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NFL Declares War on Poker

Dan BooneSenior Analyst IApril 23, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on during Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.—Ambrose Bierce

Mark Twain once wrote that nothing needs reforming more then other people's habits.

And the NFL wants to reform your online habits.

The NFL, always a bright beacon of morals in a blighted land, has decided to self-righteously step into the public morals debate. The NFL does not want a bill allowing online gambling, that is a current bill legalizing poker, to pass.

The NFL behemoth is so against people playing online poker that they have hired a high priced Washington Lobbyist, opened a DC office, and set up a PAC Donation committee to help its noble cause.

So that's where ticket increase money goes. That's why the stadium beers are nine bucks and the exhibition games are full priced flops. Perhaps that explains the PSL's. The league needs just craves some spare change to pay some politicos for favors.

Nah, the PSL's are pure greed. Nothing more nothing less.

But give it to Roger Goodell, a senator's son, who knows the Beltway better then the ball field. And he does not want folks wagering on the internet on his football games.

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The NFL has thrown its vast wealth and political power into the anti-poker fray.

The old battle cry, of course, is to maintain the integrity of the game. Online Poker will be the straw that breaks the NFL camel's back. Corruption will take hold across our fair land and shame our national game.

But the battle to set the public morals has made some mighty strange bedfellows for the NFL.

Fearing that the evils of online gaming are sapping its failing strength in a fading economy, the NFL has found a strong moral ally in North American and Native American tribal casinos.

Both casino organizations throw a lot of money, and junkets, at the politicos trying desperately block online gaming.

Online poker is, of course, a severe threat to the core values of America.

A sleeper cell buried on the internet.

And everyone knows the boys in Vegas and Atlantic City have always been men highly concerned with the moral makeup of American society...

The last gambling threat to so shake the foundations of the NFL were likely the frogmen who took Baltimore Colts/LA Rams owner Robert Irsay for his last swim or maybe the bookies that took San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie Debartolo's weekly massive 49er bets.

The politicians agree. The integrity of the scared game itself is at stake. It's time for a stand.

It's time for Johnny Unitas to go for six and the cover and skip the easy three and the win.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a friend of the casino boys in Vegas, fights immoral online poker with one hand, and with the other, lobbies hard for a tax payer built Vegas Mob Museum.

The long awaited Vegas Mob Museum!

No poker on the computer in your basement, boys, but for $15, we will show the kids where Bugsy Siegal's brains were scattered in Vegas. Frank Costello says keep your mind off the showgirls, kids.

How about the real story of Tony "the Ant" Spilotro and the Stardust and Circus Circus? Child, did you ever hear of a man monikered Mad Sam DeStefano?

Look kids: This is where the bomb lifted Lefty Rothenstein out of his car. This is the very seat that saved him.  Want to sit on it for a $5 picture?

Put in $5, press the play button, and hear the sad song of Sonny Liston.

Charming, eh?

Maybe.

I'd go to it. It certainly is no worse, morally, then online poker. But neither should be monitored or made by the government.

The old ale soaked scribe at the bar once scribbled that the government that governs best governs least.

Another odd NFL poker ban pal is the Christian Coalition.

The congressman most concerned about the effect of poker and football betting on the morals of America is the honorable Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, via Massachusetts.

Congressman Goodlatte, a member of the Christian Coalition, loves his cyber security task force, perhaps because they give him a secret Dick Tracey badge or watch. The congressman is a powerful member of the Agriculture Committee.

Oddly enough, he can combine his pair of politico power toys.

See, Senator Goodlatte also loves the slaughter of horses, but he denounces online poker as a threat to the very soul of America.

I guess he missed Gable and Monroe in The Misfits.

Goodlatte, after securing lots of donations from casino owners and their ilk, raged against internet gambling.

The same folks that sent Senator Bob piles of cash also have a vested interest in some racetracks and thoroughbred operations around the nation.

Some of those folks like selling their used up race horses to slaughter. Some of these same folks also do not want gaming competition for their casinos. Some of those same folks still have some skim and swag to spend to set their agenda.

So Senator Bob also became a key player in supporting horse slaughterhouses around the United States. He actually personally blocked a law banning slaughtering horses, while still leading the fight against internet poker.

And what would the the restless ghost of Colonel Mosby think of a carpet-bagging Yankee promoting horse killing and poker slaying in his home state of Old Virginia?

Goodlatte, in these trying economic times, is a man with serious issues on his brain and in his billfold. I mean, in this terrifying economic tempest, it's good to know a stern man of morals in Washington is bravely fighting to stop poker and start horse slaughterhouses.

Someday, likely outside a seedy second rate casino with a run down sleazy track, someone might build a bird shit-stained statue of the moral law maker.

Then sacrifice a healthly horse under it.

Still, the good senator has formed an odd alliance with the NFL, the Christian Coalition, Casino Owners, Donald Trump, Donald Trump's hair, and the gambling tribes of North America.

Who would have thought the linear descendants of Francis Lightfoot Lee, Cotton Mather, Elmer Layden, George Halas,Tecumseh, Neamathla, PT Barnum, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and a dead, dyed, rotting raccoon (the closest thing I could think of for Trump's hair) would join hands to battle online poker?

Granted, greed unites, politics have no relation to morals and, of course, the covetous are always in want, but that's still a strange brew to be passing the peace pipe and moaning about the loose morals of online gaming, or of anything for that matter.

Other politicos, with, apparently, not much else on their plate, have also stepped into the fray.

Iowa republican Jim Leach called online gaming "a double-whammy for society. It is so seductively habit-forming that individuals can in short order lose their homes and jobs and, indeed, their families and futures. And the effects on individuals redound into society."

At first I though Senator Leach meant crack cocaine or the stock market. Somehow I did not know internet poker or a football bet threatened the very fabric of the republic.

Currently, banks must regulate credit card transactions to assure that the money is not being used for online gambling.

Banks can't even regulate the billions of bailout bucks they have ravenously gobbled up, and now they are the online gaming morals cops?

And really, don't banks have enough to worry about besides bets on poker or football? 

Sure, sweet Sir J. Allen Stanford, that crooked Texas banker man, stuck a lot of banks in Antigua. Offshore banks that handle a lot of poker and gambling action.

But is that gambling action worse then Wall Street speculation? Surely, Sir J. Allen Stanford dealt with some shady characters with Slavic accents, but perhaps Sir J. Allen will learn the meaning, at long last, of buy the ticket, take the ride.

Why not say good-bye to all that nonsense and legalize it and tax it.

States are desperate for revenue. What's the difference between betting on a horse or a numbers drawing and wagering on football or poker, except that your odds are better?

Sports gambling is accepted throughout Europe, Asia, and exotic Canada.

Why must Americans cling to Puritan morals and make it illegal? Why must we protect the cash flow of a cartel of special interests groups, Vegas, Atlantic City, tribal casinos, the NFL, and corrupt politicians?

Why not legalize it and tax it?

And why outrage over poker, which is the quiescent American pastime?

And why does Roger Goodell care if I play online poker? Why must the NFL interfere with our lives? Why is it using fan generated money against its fan base?

Presidents as diverse as US Grant, Warren Harding, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Barack Obama enjoyed poker.

At the funeral of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, jokes were made about his fondness for his monthly poker games and gambling with the other Supremos and select DC insiders.

The states run various lotteries, rip off tickets, race tracks, casinos, slot parlors, dice games, and keno.

All are worse bets then wagering on sports or playing poker.

Betting lines of NFL games are published in papers nationwide.  Betting on NFL games is mentioned on most NFL pregame shows and on countless Web sites.

Poker and football betting are two of the most popular American pastimes. Well, they were anyway, when folks still had jobs.

Each year the Super Bowl is the most highly wagered on event nationwide.

Why not make it all legal?

And again, why doesn't the NFL and Goodell mind their own damn business about people's private poker habits?

Why doesn't a revenue starved state take a wild leap and legalize sports betting?

Delaware: I'm talking to you.

What's Goodell gonna do to Delaware, anyway? Take away its NFL Sunday Ticket? Invade and vandalize it with his Visigoth-like Cincinnati Bengals?

Or will the NFL just be outraged?

Folks are very good at outrage these days. But can't they find something else to be outraged about than poker?

And can't Roger Goodell find something better to do with his time and the fan's money?

But most of all, Mister Goodell, why don't you mind your own damn business?

Hypocrisy: Prejudice with a halo.—Bierce, still lost in Old Mexico.


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