The debate around the legitimacy and effects of regulating online poker in the US has heated up over the last few weeks. It follows the now infamous comments on online gaming by Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson.
One of the latest figures to put forward his views on the trend to legalize and regulate the industry is none other than three-time WSOP Gold Bracelet winner Antonio ‘the Magician’ Esfandiari. Esfandiari, who took out fourth spot in the WSOP $111,111 One Drop High Roller event this weekend, put forward his full support for regulation that has been taking place in states like Nevada.
While not directly addressing the debate or Mr Adelson’s comments, the Magician said that online poker services should not be seen as an alternative to live gaming, but rather a complimentary industry.
“I believe online poker creates jobs and it gives people a bigger marketplace. You can play in the comfort of your own home when you’re chilling out with your family or you can go down to the casino when you want to do that. It’s not really taking anything away,” he said.
It is estimated that up to 70 new jobs have been created following the launch of Ultimate Poker in Nevada earlier this year. That may be the tip of the iceberg given that a number of other online poker operators aiming to launch services in the state in the near future. That could help Nevada’s economy, which had an unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent in May.
The Magician also hit back at the argument that the regulation of online poker in the US may result in the increased of so-called ‘problem gamblers’. “You’re talking about a game of skill. I don’t understand how people that promote slot machines could say that online poker creates degenerate gamblers. I don’t get it,” Esfandiari said.