Monday, November 23, 2015

Musings – DFS, Sexism, and the Internet

Over the last year or two I have consciously made an effort to “follow” those on Twitter who have something useful to say about the poker playing community. My list is not exhaustive but I think it is representative and I believe I am getting a fairly well-rounded view of the issues that impact poker players. Also, selfishly, I often post links to this blog on Twitter with new articles in hopes of attracting readers, new and old.

Over the past few weeks the number of posts in my twitter feed on Daily Fantasy Sports and the recurring theme of sexism in poker have been astounding. Everyone has had a go at these two issues, and in the typical manner of commentary on the World Wide Web, the comments run from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily Fantasy Sports in general and FanDuel
and DraftKings in particular have enjoyed a free ride as far as the government and other regulators are concerned. It’s not that no one noticed two or three years ago when these mega sites first started attracting players. It’s that the money they were generating was inconsequential. Once the money swelled, the risk of being targeted and investigated increased dramatically. 

The fact that a DraftKings’ employee won a hefty pool prize on FanDuel after allegations of leaked information was only the straw that broke the camel’s back. Within the space of two weeks state AGs and gambling commission big wigs started to swoop in for their share of the pot.

Up to this point what is going on in Nevada and Massachusetts makes most sense to me. What is going on in New York reeks of paternalism and publicity grabbing.

Nevada, as we all know, has a refined respect for gambling. They tolerate all sorts of wagering although they do not encourage state-wide or national lotteries for obvious reasons. Their standpoint in a nutshell is if you want to operate in NV get a license. Period! End of story! Get approved like every other new iteration of a game of chance (or skill, if you prefer) and you can do business here as long as we (the state) get our cut.

The MA Attorney General, Maura Tracy Healey, not known as a friend of gambling, recently took the middle road on DFS. Her take is let’s sit down and draw up some regulations and then you can take wagers in MA. Her initial proposal will probably be regarded by the big DFS companies as a negotiating position. I do not see any way that FanDuel or DraftKings would agree to limiting their clientele to 21 year olds and older or cutting all college sports out of the mix.

New York, on the other hand, is way off base in my opinion. I live in a state that tolerates (encourages might be a better word) horse racing, both flats and harness racing, lotteries of every stripe, Native American casinos, racinos, charity Bingo and charity poker games, and now four fledgling casinos in the offing. Skewering the DFS sites on the grounds that they violate gambling statutes is a travesty. New York is far beyond upholding a constitutional provision preventing gambling in the state when there are so many exceptions that NY is soon to become a gambling mecca. The AG, and the state he represents, wants a piece of the pie. Why not be honest about it instead of manufacturing this huge affront. In the end, when all the financial pieces have been shared equitably, DFS will operate in NY and many other places too.

Sexism in the Poker Community

I have addressed the issue of poor treatment of women in the poker community before in this blog. It’s a topic that keeps coming up because it does not go away. That leads me to believe that this is not so much a poker issue as a social issue that is far more wide-spread than the poker table.

The current gaggle of presidential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, either address the issues of gender inequality and seek ways to eradicate them or avoid the issues altogether and even try to clamp down further on what women can and cannot do in an otherwise free society like ours. Gender inequality is not going away any time soon and, just as racism persists in the USA even after major legislative efforts to erase it, sexism will not be regulated away by Congress or by poker room rules. The changes that need to take place are not changes that happen on paper. They are changes that happen inside individual human beings. You can rest assured that men at a poker table who disrespect women are the same men that disrespect their wives, daughters, girlfriends and mothers. When those attitudes away from the poker table change then it will be safer for women to play poker without fear of being abused. Sad but true!!!

The Internet

And finally what about the Internet! We have arrived at a point where most of us cannot do without it! The era of using our cell phones for just about everything from paying bills, to scheduling a trip, to sending a greeting card, and adjusting the heat in our home has arrived and each day more industries go by the wayside because people have been replaced by data ( i.e. the travel agency, the people who make phone books, and maybe soon the newspaper and magazines, and so many more things). I’m not saying this is all bad. As a matter of fact, much of it is good, very good.

What is of some concern, however, are places on the web where people get to express an opinion – twitter, facebook, any comment section in any internet post.

The digital generation is a generation that grew up, learned even, that opinions are sacrosanct! If it’s my opinion there is nothing you can say to undermine it. I am entitled to my views. Well, guess what. You’re not, especially if they are hurtful, stupid, mean, cowardly, obscene, racist, sexist, ageist, or any other distasteful comment designed to cut deeply and twist the blade. What happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Why not express an opinion on a topic without besmirching the character of the person on the other end?

My guess is that any open comment area on the internet takes about three or four generations of comments before someone says something stupid or hurtful. The idea of an intelligent airing of opinions going on until everyone has had a chance to voice their responsible point of view is unheard of. This is not a legacy that we should be leaving behind. Let’s clean it up, people. Let’s revive the cult of civility and treat each other with respect.

'Nuf said!

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