Guest Post: Poker players in Maryland hoping for a chance at fair play

The United States has always been known as one of most sports-loving countries in the world, but the events of 2011 have shown that the nation’s infrastructure is set up to favor some forms of recreational entertainment more than others. American gamblers are all too familiar with this unfortunate truth, but it’s impossible to deny that poker players in Maryland have seen more than their fair share of hard times this year.

Unlike gamblers elsewhere in the US, poker players in Maryland are suffering under a number unique provisions in the state’s gaming laws that specifically disallow monetized poker competitions on the ridiculous basis that that it doesn’t qualify as a sporting activity.

This distinction of offline and online poker as an illegal gambling practice seems particularly strange in light of the state’s endorsement of lotteries, slots, and other casino favorites as sports, and thus legally permissible gambling activities. State gaming regulations are notably inconsistent in this regard; poker fits every possible logical definition of a sporting activity, but it is nevertheless expressly forbidden.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley spent much of 2011 in vocal opposition of federal moves toward nationwide gambling legislation, claiming that national attempts at state-endorsed online casino regulation would necessarily infringes on states’ rights to dictate local gaming laws. Additionally, in a letter addressed to those present at a special Congressional hearing focused on the issue of online gaming, Governor O’Malley attempted to shed light on Maryland’s anti-poker provisions by explaining that the game’s wild popularity could pose a threat to the state’s pre-existing gambling programs, namely the Maryland Lottery and statewide slots competitions.

The anti-poker legislation that Governor O’Malley supports so strongly has also effectively left players seeking reimbursement from providers during the aftermath of Black Friday to their own devices. While it may be easy – and, in many cases, profitable – for lawmakers to dismiss the intricacies of online poker legality as a strictly political concern, millions of innocent poker players haven’t had that luxury.

To add insult to injury, it almost seems as if Maryland policy makers have gone out of their way to punish poker players for participating in their favorite sport. This is certainly the case for a number of jilted online casino players from Maryland who have been repeatedly denied reimbursement of their frozen accounts with poker providers such as Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. Then in June 2011, they were faced with the announcement that the Anne Arundel County Police Department had received some $470,000 in connection with federal Internet gambling and poker investigations.

Although the future of poker in the state of Maryland has yet to be determined, it’s become clear to millions of gamblers that both state and federal gaming legislators have grown resistant to the principles of fair play.

The content was contributed by WWW.POKER.CA.

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Brian Hradsky

The owner of MSB, I created this website while in college and it has never died.

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