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Poker profs support online poker legalisation

Discussion in 'Casinomeister's Poker Room' started by jetset, Oct 23, 2007.

    Oct 23, 2007
  1. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service

    Top Harvard Law School professors have taken up the cause - legalisation of online poker.

    Influential academics at Harvard are questioning the approach of the US Administration to online poker amid concerns that important legal principles - and the freedom of the Internet - are at stake.

    The Boston Herald started the week with an article on the critical opinions of two top Harvard Law School professors who have taken up the legalisation of poker cause.

    Professor Charles Nesson has become an outspoken advocate on behalf of online poker, blasting last years Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act crackdown, which banned online gambling financial transactions in the United States.

    Nesson has teamed up with some of his law students to form the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, which held inaugural sessions last week (see previous InfoPowa report).

    Meanwhile, Professor Alan Dershowitz is helping defend an unidentified online entrepreneur facing charges related to an offshore sports betting site with which he was involved.

    Important legal principles are at stake, the two men say - though they both also admit to being avid poker fans. And theyre not alone in their interest. Harvard Law this year offered its first-ever course in gaming law.

    The idea of Internet freedom is a core notion of modern political freedom, Nesson said. The law professor first became interested in the game in 1981. On sabbatical, he was programming his new IBM computer, which came with a version of poker - five-card draw, jacks or better. As he tinkered with his computer, he got a close look at the bluffing algorithm and became entranced with the elegance of the game.

    When online poker emerged years later, the Harvard professor became a fan of that too, enjoying both the challenge and the convenience. And he found himself affronted when poker and other forms of online gaming were banned last year in the United States after what he derides as a midnight vote in Congress.

    Nesson contends that poker is a game of skill, not chance. Given that, poker tournaments, including online play, should be legalised, he feels.

    Dershowitz is also a devoted poker fan. He plays in the summer with Larry David of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame and he jokes that he knows its a game of skill since he is frequently bested by better players.

    Like Nesson, Dershowitz contends that, under the same game of skill theory, online sports betting should be legalised. It is a belief he is now putting into practice as he tries to keep out of prison an executive charged with running an online sports betting business.

    Its certainly not a game of chance, Dershowitz said. It is ridiculous to call either poker or sports betting a game of chance.

    The professors contend the ban passed by Congress last year is on shaky legal ground. In fact, the tiny Caribbean island nation of Antigua, home to a number of off-shore Internet gaming companies, has already successfully challenged the online gaming ban at the World Trade Organisation.

    Nesson said his interest in poker extends beyond the game itself and the controversies surrounding Internet gaming.

    Its really the poker way of thinking that is the most deeply intriguing thing to me, Nesson said.

    The essence of poker is this business of seeing from the other persons point of view. You have to figure out just where to stop.

    He believes the game of poker can be a great teaching tool by helping instill important analytical skills. Its so much the part of what legal thinking is about, he said.

    In fact, Nesson offers some unconventional advice to his students.

    If they want to do something useful in their outside time, they should play poker, he said.
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