Anyone who enjoys hearing an outspoken, very knowledgable person sound off on the UIGEA would be highly enriched by surfing over to Hold'em Radio, click on the show vault, and look for the interview featuring Nolan Dalla and Gambler's Book Shop Howard Schwartz, listed as being hosted by Earl Burton but also having a bit of Lou Krieger at the start. It's Dalla, though, that is the raison d'etre for this enthusiastic recommendation. He is, well, one of the ultimate sources for poker knowledge.
In Nolan's own words, he's "a longtime poker insider and Media Director of the World Series of Poker since 2002, [who] recently resigned his position as Director of Communications for PokerStars.com, under legal advisement. Yet he will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to legalize online poker inside the United States and fight for the rights of poker players." In addition to that, he's the author (with Peter Alston), of the excellent One of A Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey 'The Kid' Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player.
I'd sought some quotes from Nolan in connection with a couple of pieces I'd worked on for another site, but new deadlines and a crush of material in this very busy time precluded Nolan's comments from being used for their original purpose. Nonetheless, what Nolan had to say was important, concise, and above all, very knowledgable. Nolan has graciously consented to allow his comments to appear here, and we're all the richer for it.
Me: Nolan, I'm currently working on several stories, and I'd like to get a couple of quotes from you if possible. First, it's quite evident that you believe the UIGEA to be a civil-liberties affront to the American people, although if I am mistaken, please correct me.
Nolan Dalla: *****Correct. Everyone who believes in individual rights should be absolutely outraged by this legislation. The fundamental question we must all ask ourselves in the voting booth is 'what roles does government have in our lives?' The Republican Party was once the party of less government and freedom of the individual. Republicans have abandoned those core principles and now want to impose the far right's moralistic agenda on the rest of society. Oddly enough, we are fighting the Taliban and the forces of totalitarianism abroad, yet there are serious threats to individual liberty within.
Me: Could you offer a concise comment as to how and why you feel that the UIGEA steps far beyond poker, and is such an affront to civil liberties?
Nolan Dalla: This legislation is not about poker. It is not about gambling. It is about freedom. You either believe in the freedom of the individual or you don't. It's as simple as that. You either believe that the individual is more capable of making his and her own decisions, or you prefer the government to do it for you. Which side of this debate do you think most Americans will take? I believe most Americans do not want the government in their living rooms, on their home computers, and looking into their bank records. Our freedoms and rights to privacy are being grossly violated. I urge everyone who shares this view to join the fight. Because that is what it is -- a fight. In the words of Paddy Cheyevsky who wrote "Network," you've got to stand up and say "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more." If you remain silent, you get what you deserve -- a bunch of middle-aged religious zealots making public policy for you.
Me: There is a release today making the rounds, about the FBI, various attorneys general and wrong-headed politicians pushing for much more recording of Internet traffic, lasting up to a year. (The release in question can be accessed here: http://news.com.com/Data+retention+bill+expected+next+week/2100-1028_3-6118283.html?tag=nl) Now, apart from the UIGEA's affects, could you comment as to changes such legislation might bring to the online-poker world?
Nolan Dalla: Absolutely. These are very dangerous times. The other side thinks that in order to protect to U.S. Constitution, they must trample on it. The Federal Government can now lawfully torture people in clear violation of international law, wiretap and invade one's personal privacy, confiscate money and possessions which are believed to be related to criminal activity without due process, and commit other acts under the guide of "national security." Consider the government's claim that online poker is and could be used to fund terrorism activities. Although no such case exists on record, the government has lied to its citizens. Proponents of this legislation have lied about the impacts of online gambling. This is very disturbing because such lies and distortions erode public confidence in government and its institutions. Public confidence in Congress is at an all-time low. I predict that this bill and other infringements on civil liberty will swing enough voters in the November election to change the balance of power in Washington. Oddly enough, this bill might be worth 2-3 percentage points to Democratic candidates and could be a decisive issue which determines the outcome of the mid-term elections. Wouldn't that be justice if the Republicans were to be punished by poker players for their misdeeds?