Bill Saporito draws the contrast:
…Wall Streeters absolutely love poker. The big tournaments in Vegas are filled with quants, bankers, traders and other Street beasts. Puritan Preet’s raid on Internet poker sites in a country where gambling is legal in all 50 states, where governments are pushing their own lottery games every day, seems a bit contradictory to say the least—and I’m willing to bet that some of Bharara’s staff have played poker. Prosecutors have to have fun, too.
The outlawing of Internet gaming has excluded a potentially large business from the U.S. that could be mined for tax revenues that could help pay off some of the debt S&P is so worried about. The American gambling industry is chomping at the bit to get a piece of this action, which is now consigned to outposts like the Isle of Mann and Antigua. Wynn Resorts already had a deal with PokerStars, but had to walk on it when two of that company’s executives, Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate, neither of whom appears to be an American citizen, were charged with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. Good luck in extraditing them.
Granted, Bharara has to uphold U.S. law, however dumb it is, but who, exactly, is he protecting? The law the poker sites allegedly violated bars Internet gambling not already sanctioned by law. It was pushed by a couple of Republican blue noses and approved only because it was attached to a must-pass Port Security Act in 2006. So much for the Nanny State being a province of Democrats; so much for the Republican/libertarian/conservative conceit that government shouldn’t regulate our personal behavior if it doesn’t harm others. People love poker and they love to gamble. (That does not include me; I have no interest in either, given that gambling implies a negative return on investment. I’d much rather put my money in…stocks and real estate? ) But hasn’t Bharara has now charged more people (11) for running poker sites that people like and that have harmed few, than he has for causing the financial collapse that has harmed all of us?