The Untouchables

I read a piece on the Seattle Post Intelligencer today that kind of amused me.

The plot revolves around the ‘Seattle Speakeasy Seven’, a gang of wannabe gangsters accused of running an illegal gambling operation in and around Seattle, recently exposed after a 4-year investigation by the city’s vice squad and state gambling officials.

Read the piece and you cannot help but be transported back in time to the 1920’s and the heady days of Prohibition.

Honestly, it could be a scene straight out of Bugsy Malone. For Fat Sam and Knuckles read DK Pan and his trusty sidekick Bill Donnell III. From several delightfully seedy sounding establishments, including a poker room in the now defunct Bit Saloon and a storage facility in ‘Tubs’ (where patrons could previously rent hot tubs by the hour), the wannabe mobsters allegedly ran their dodgy criminal enterprise.

I know this sorry tale revolves around wholly terrestrial activities but I could not help but relate this to the pickle that our North American friends seem to have got themselves into over their somewhat half-hearted ban on online poker.

Have they learned nothing from the Prohibition? In particular the unintended side effect of increasing the grip of criminal gangs who history shows will willingly fill the void created by attempting to ban something that so many of your people do and will continue to do regardless of well intentioned but misguided state intervention.

Never has history better shown that banning stuff that so many of your citizens do anyway is at best futile and at worse dangerous. Don’t ban it – licence it, regulate it, and protect your citizens by pulling the plug on the mobsters.

Allow your citizens the freedom to choose how they spend their leisure time and money. And at the same time stake your claim on all that lost tax revenue that is already out there swilling around just waiting to be put to better use.

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