I play poker for a living. I am good at it, I enjoy it and I provide a good living for my family.
I have come to Washington today with a simple message for some of my conservative friends: Cut spending and create jobs.
They should like this message because this is the message that they have pushed since President Obama took office two years ago.
I have a specific way that they can cut spending and create American jobs: They can stop spending money enforcing a misguided law to crack down on Internet poker. And if they change that law to allow Internet poker sites to be licensed here in the United States, they will create American jobs.
I don’t know how many jobs this would create in the United States, but I do know that now all of these jobs are in other countries. In fact, according to a recent study, more than 30,000 jobs have been created in the European Union because those countries have chosen to regulate this growing industry.
Some people have a religious belief that playing poker is immoral. It’s fine for them to have that belief. This is America. People can have any belief that they want. But pushing those religious beliefs on the rest of us is wrong.
Millions of Americans love to play poker. They love to play poker with friends, in poker tournaments or online.
Poker tournaments get great ratings on television. People are fascinated by the strategy, by the skill and sometimes by the luck that comes with high-stakes poker.
Despite that fact, the government spends millions of dollars enforcing a law that burdens banks and treats poker players as if they were criminals.
Poker players are not criminals. They are good, hard-working, red-blooded Americans who are enjoying a game that helped to make America what it is today.
Any law restricting freedoms ought to be reviewed. Instead of taking freedom away from citizens, our government should be in the business of protecting and expanding freedom.
Last November, the American people sent a pretty clear message that they wanted Congress to cut spending and create jobs. I am here in Washington to make sure that Congress hears that message loud and clear.
You can cut spending and create jobs, and all you have to do is give freedom back to poker players.
Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event World Champion, and has over $7 million in career tournament earnings. He has been a full- and part-time professional poker player for over a dozen years. Prior to becoming a full-time pro, Greg was a biotechnology patent attorney for twelve years, spending the last half of his legal career as in-house counsel for Pfizer. Greg is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Poker Players Alliance (www.theppa.org), a grassroots advocacy group representing the rights of poker players.