Just fired off this email to Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Boscola, who is an opponent of iGaming (to my knowledge, based on quick Google):
My name is Brian Hastings; I grew up in Hanover Township, PA, am moving to Philadelphia soon, and my girlfriend was born and raised in Easton and her parents still live there and do lots of work in the community. I am a pretty well-known poker professional, with 3 WSOP bracelets to my name. I used to play online poker also, but now I’m no longer allowed to do so in my home country/state. I’d be very interested in hearing your oppositions on iGaming/iPoker and having a conversation about the topic. From my point of view, the USA is a nation founded on a platform of individual freedoms. Taking away the freedom to play online poker from my home country has previously led me down a path of moving abroad to continue my career, then becoming depressed about the whole situation and spending several years in a dysthmic state of mind. I’m better now and lucky enough to no longer rely on online poker as my primary source of income, but many fellow professionals are currently in this tough situation and, quite frankly, it’s ruining their lives.
Also, I have an economics degree from Cornell University. I understand the need for new revenue sources so the state government has more money to spend on all sorts of causes. I would assume your main concerns are to protect individuals from themselves, since gambling addiction is a real thing and online gambling can be addictive (I agree with those points). I would counter argue that iGaming sites can be set up with protections (i.e. self-exclusion option, strict deposit limits within small time frame, responsible gaming banner ads) that would help this problem. I would further argue that the stock market can be an equally addictive form of gambling, but sites like E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, etc are perfectly free and legal. And also, gambling addicts have plenty of other ways to get their fix, whether lottery tickets, land based casinos, finding a local bookie, you name it. Gambling addiction is a serious problem and should be treated as such, but I think with proper regulation iGaming sites could potentially even be a net positive in terms of helping to treat gambling addicts.
I certainly hope religion is not a factor in your argument. America was founded on the principles of “separation of church and state”. Religion has no business in the political process. I do understand that you have to cater to your constituents, but those who oppose iGaming based on religious reasons can be educated. Also, in some cases, they may be the same people buying lottery tickets and going to the local casino.
Anyway, sorry for length, I’m obviously passionate about this subject. Hope to talk soon, thanks for your time.
Will keep readers updated on her response. If you didn’t know, I’m moving to Philadelphia in September with my girlfriend, Sonya. We both grew up in PA and then went away to college and afterward, and are just now coming back to our home state. I have many plans that don’t involve online poker, but I’d still love to be able to play some in the comfort of my own home on a site that I can trust. Many others share my desire. Hopefully we can make a difference.