Posts Tagged ‘Feinstein’

Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

 Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

It has been a while since we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) about trying to ban online poker in the United States, so I suppose it was about time for him to try to revive his dead horse. Last week, Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Wire Act clarification issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2011, a decision which would effectively make online gambling completely illegal in the U.S.

As readers may remember, the Wire Act was designed more than 55 years ago to curtail organized crime by making sports betting over phone lines illegal. For whatever reason, decades later, the Department of Justice interpreted it to include all gambling over the internet. In late 2011, the OLC clarified that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, thus officially opening the door for states to launch their own online gambling industries.

Sen. Graham has introduced billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) multiple times, trying to get the OLC’s ruling reversed, but it largely hasn’t been taken too seriously by lawmakers. Thus, it’s time for another approach.
As one would expect, the letter is mostly bullshit. For example, one paragraph states:

The DOJ opinion had the practical effect of repealing legislation Congress carefully and thoughtfully enacted in 2006 to ban internet gambling – legislation developed over seven years and crafted based on assurances from DOJ at that time that internet gambling was barred by the Wire Act and other federal criminal laws.

I’m not going to bother parsing every word, but suffice to say that the UIGEA – the law referred to there – was not “carefully and thoughtfully enacted.” It was, instead, attached to a must-pass SAFE Port Act and snuck through in the middle of the night with virtually no debate.

The letter goes on to use the “won’t anyone think of the children” scare tactic that we have heard a million times and again cites an old FBI letter that states, “[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes” like money laundering. Of course, that letter is always misrepresented, as the concerns it addresses have to do with unregulated gambling, not legal, properly regulated online gambling.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas skewered the letter in a statement, saying:

If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win “most misleading” in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs. Congress has given express authority to states to regulate igaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore. Moreover, they continue to misrepresent and almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming. I suppose it’s easier to conflate reality with their own bias to continue making the same points, than actually own up to the fact that regulated igaming is responsible public policy.

The PPA posted the entire letter, which can be read here.

The post Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Senator Diane Feinstein Pens Opposition Letter to California Efforts to Regulate Online Poker, Legislators Ignore Her

 Senator Diane Feinstein Pens Opposition Letter to California Efforts to Regulate Online Poker, Legislators Ignore Her

Offering her opinion from a national seat on an issue that the state is trying to figure out (the civics people in the audience will realize how that sounds), California Senator Diane Feinstein recently penned a letter to the California General Assembly in opposition to their efforts to pass effective regulation of online poker. The state body’s response? Passing said legislation out of committee by a unanimous vote.

Feinstein penned her letter to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon in response to Assembly Bill 2863, which had its first hearing in front of the California Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee last week. “I write to strongly oppose legislation that has been introduced in the State Assembly to authorize online poker in California,” Feinstein’s letter begins. “I urge you to consider the potential widespread harmful implications of online gambling, particularly for young people in California.”

The senior Senator from California continues on to point out a study from BioMed Central, a for-profit scientific (online) publisher from the United Kingdom, regarding online gaming and youth participation. In that study, researchers Tara Elton-Marshall, Scott Leatherdale and Nigel Turner posited that “youth are gambling online despite restrictions” (they don’t note that they probably are smoking, drinking and other activities as well despite restrictions), which is enough for Feinstein to conclude that it has to be stopped. She goes on to tie in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s out-of-date research on the subject from the early 2000s and states that “mechanisms” can “conceal the location of players” from the online gaming sites.

Where Feinstein really goes off the reservation is on the activities of “Black Friday.” Despite having paid nearly $ 1 billion in fines over the 2011 indictment of founder Isai Scheinberg (whom Feinstein talks about as if she’s never heard of him) and being cleared of any charges, Feinstein brings up PokerStars, saying they “provide a ready avenue for money laundering and other possible offenses.” She also states they are harmful to children, but doesn’t go into detail, and insinuates that the new ownership of PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, isn’t trustworthy either.

From all appearances, the letter Feinstein sent to the California legislators sounds like a lobbyist from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling wrote it. The letter contains all of the fingerprints of arguments that have been used by the minions of the CSIG – and have been thoroughly refuted by repeated demonstrations of geolocation technology and identification verification – and pretty much no individual thought from the Senator herself.

So what was the reply from the California Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee? In an 18-0 vote, AB 2863 – despite still-significant differences between many of the various parties involved in the case – was passed, sending it along to the California Assembly for consideration and potentially a vote. One of the most powerful voices in demonstrating that regulation was necessary was the Poker Player Alliance’s Executive Director, John Pappas.

During his testimony in front of the committee, Pappas related the history of unregulated rooms that had suddenly shut down, leaving thousands of U. S. players in the lurch. “Lock Poker last April shut down and took millions in player deposits,” Pappas noted. “Because there is no regulatory oversight, there is nothing the players can do to get their money back.”

Pappas’ testimony, while not the only key point in advocating for regulation of the online poker industry, was probably the most powerful to the committee members. Before the bill can move to the Assembly and, perhaps, the California Senate, the differing factions have to find a common ground to solidly put in the bill. Despite the moves by Pappas and the drive from the Assembly committee, they cannot force the factions into a deal.

While many are optimistic about passage in 2016, there is the stark reality that the discussions have been going on for almost a decade on this subject. As such, it would be best for online poker players to temper their excitement over this issue as there are some powerful players – including a sitting U. S. Senator – who could still impact the decision.

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