Chris Ferguson (#100 on our list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business) and other poker pros are in Washington D.C. this week to sweet talk members of Congress into lifting a three-year-old ban against online gambling in the U.S. If their cajoling works, Internet gambling may play a hand in stimulating the economy and raking in billions of tax dollars.
Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs published a report predicting that the U.S. would eventually legalize Internet gambling, in part because an online poker and casino market could rake in up to $12 billion in revenue—a sizeable amount considering that online games in the U.S. generated only $6.6 billion in 2007, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
That also means there's potential for plenty of tax money. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers says the U.S. could raise nearly $52 billion in revenue over the next decade by legalizing—and taxing—Internet gambling.
It's that prospect that's helped the Poker Players Alliance secure an unlikely ally: Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the Housing Financial Services Committee. "Can we please not call poker gambling?," Frank reportedly told the audience at this year's World Series of Poker. "Online gambling is illegal because those **** in D.C. can't figure out a fool-proof way to tax the bejesus out of it. Yet..."
In May, Frank—who, according to the Boston Globe, doesn't play poker or blackjack and has never tried a slot machine—spearheaded a bill calling for the overhaul of The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.