The American Government wants it. So does its people. Renewable energy -- that which doesn't burn fossil fuels, expected to reach a catastrophic climax of supply, known as Peak Oil, sometime in the near future. When the oil runs out, so does our carbon intensive lifestyle of cheap flights to Cancun, and driving our SUVs everywhere. Canada's tar sands might be an interim solution, but it's not one for mitigating climate change, or animal conservation. We need renewable energy for increasing America's energy security, and some hope, lessening its dependence on foreign oil -- particularly OPEC oil, supplied by countries with not-so democratic societies and political goals.
I had an idea, and after Googling a bit, realized I wasn't the first but I am certain it could work: if American legislators highly taxed online casinos (as they mull over making online poker legal once again), they could make a windfall of earnings that could be dedicated to running pilot plants for new renewable energy technology. America could have enough funds to test and run more biofuel plants for algae, it could fund conservative efforts to increase fuel efficiency like GreenFuel does, and it could also invest in funding innovative ideas that could spark the next revolution in effect creating a tipping point for renewable energy.
Gambling, online or at Vegas, is a vice. But it's an established fact that when there is a will there is a way. Online gambling could create billions of dollars of tax revenues (like cigarettes and booze already does today), instead of putting it in the hands of a few companies that make millions. Some of the best online casino rooms can be found through a number of directories, like this one, and the model could work as thus: any online poker, or online gambling site must be registered with a new program set up by the US Department of Energy. In order for American players to access these sites to play poker, a certain predetermined percentage of all casino earnings must go towards this new renewable energy program. It can be high, as much as 50 percent or more.
This could be replicated in countries around the world.
Taking it to another level, a government can issue tenders for online poker casinos who will play by these rules, and said online casinos will get a special seal of approval. This is also another way for making sure the casinos play fair.
Anyone who places a bet at a casino knows the odds are not in their favor, yet they play anyway for the thrill of the win. Why not give this revenue to better the future?
I personally don't bet at casinos, though I did play slots once on a Christmas holiday in St. Kitts with $20 that my friend's mom gave me. When I was up $10 I cashed out and used my winnings to buy a thank you present to my friend's mom for buying me the lavish holiday. But I have family members who spend hours playing slots online. And more who spend thousands at Casino Rama in Ontario, one of the only places in Canada where gambling is legal.
I say legislate and legalize online poker, if only the environment and our future will benefit from this inevitable vice. I am not alone: a company called Green Bet has already put forth the plan that their casinos would operate to fund green energy. Think about it: Anyone who takes this on could still benefit by the millions. And I am not sure that the players need to know that their losses are going to green energy -- that's a marketing tactic that should be determined. After all: we don't want people at the end of the day to associate losing with solar or wind energy.
Just some food for thought after I read the New York Times article on legislating online poker. I'd bet on this as the Obama Administration flounders over some bad press on its renewable energy policies and practice.
Karin Kloosterman is the founder and editor of Green Prophet, an online sustainable voice for the Middle East.