Poker is an American institution and playing it online should be legalized, according to best-selling author Ben Mezrich, whose latest book tells of the dark side of the beloved card game.
"Online poker definitely should be legal. Poker is a game of skill," Mezrich told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"It's hypocritical that we can walk into a supermarket and buy scratch tickets which is clearly a game of luck, but you can't play poker which is more of a sport than anything.
"It should be legal, it will be. It's in three states already and eventually it'll get all across the country.''
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Mezrich — whose book about Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg became the hit film "The Social Network'' — is author of "Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire—and How It All Came Crashing Down,"
published by William Morrow.
"It's a story of a group of college kids from the University of Montana who essentially launched the online poker world, moved their frat to Costa Rica … [and] built a million-dollar-a-day business," Mezrich said.
"Then the U.S. government decided that online poker should be illegal, shut the whole thing down and now they're fugitives. One of them is on the run in Antigua, another one went to jail and the whole industry disappeared."
Mezrich said there's no question the industry needs to be regulated.
"There has to be age limits … and that there should be ways to control it so that people aren't just putting all their money into it, just like any form of gambling," he said.
"But poker, it's a national pastime. The World Series of Poker is a huge TV event with a $10 million dollar prize. College kids, adults, soccer moms... everyone plays poker now.
"You can go on Facebook and play Farmville and buy fake little things for your farm and we're okay with that, but we're not okay with someone playing cards, and that to me seems ridiculous."
Speaking of Facebook, Mezrich believes Zuckerberg was smart in taking the online social website public, despite the fact its price has seesawed.
"Zuckerberg is a genius and his goal is this revolution in the social world and changing the world through Facebook," Mezrich said.
"I don't think it's about money for him, I don't think it ever was about money and so far things are moving in the right direction for Facebook. It's just getting bigger and bigger and bigger."
Mezrich's book about Zuckerberg, "The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal,"
tells how the Harvard University student hacked the school's computers and crashed the campus network, and after being nearly expelled, was inspired to create Facebook.
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