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PPA urges players and operators to counter move against online gambling.
Las Vegas Sands mogul Sheldon Adelson's attempt to use state Attorneys General to push for an internet gambling ban is gaining traction, and the Poker Players Alliance has renewed its plea to pro-online gambling parties to counter the campaign.
The Washington DC publication The Hill reported over the weekend that at least 10 state attorneys general have signed a letter to congressional leaders and the House and Senate Judiciary committees asking Congress to declare online gaming illegal.
The AG's drive is believed to have been triggered by Adelson's earlier presentation to the Republican Attorneys General Association urging AGs to join his campaign to revamp the Wire Act in such a way as to impose a ban on most forms of online gambling.
The group of ten AGs thus far supporting the Adelson drive by writing to Congress with their concerns about online gambling is spearheaded by the Attorneys General from Missouri, Chris Koster, Nebraska, Jon Bruning, and South Carolina, Alan Wilson.
The PPA says that other AGs known to have signed the letter to Congress include Tom Horne of Arizona, David Louie of Hawaii, Bill Schuette of Michigan, Tim Fox of Montana, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Marty Jackley of South Dakota and Peter Michael of Wyoming.
Besides reassembling old and in places inaccurate arguments on underage and problem gambling and criminal activity, the letter claims:
“Given the inherently interstate nature of Internet gambling transactions, we anticipate that it will become increasingly difficult to effectively regulate such conduct as additional jurisdictions consider legalizing Internet gambling.”
John Pappas, executive director of the PPA, told The Hill Friday that Adelson is pushing Congress to pass legislation that would add language to the Wire Act explicitly prohibiting online gambling.
“Having the Attorneys General letter would be a component of getting a sponsor for that bill,” Pappas said, adding that if influential states signed up, the letter could be important.
However, he noted that significant players like California, Illinois and Massachusetts are instead considering legalising online gambling.
Pappas also drew attention to states' rights and the potential for creating a "complete legal quagmire” that the AG's letter could represent for states that have already embarked on the legalisation road - Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
The PPA exec characterised the letter as a curious tactic for state officials who claim to support the right of states to make laws for their own people. He pointed out that the AGs who have signed the letter are effectively asking Congress to preemptively ban states from legalising online gambling within their own borders.
A spokesman for Texas Representative Joe Barton, who has a federal online-poker-only legalisation bill in the Congressional system, said that work on the bill continued because it was the only way to ensure a uniform set of laws for US-wide online poker.
“One of the main goals of the Poker Freedom Act is to protect players from a patchwork [of] regulations that varies by jurisdiction and could open the door to fraud,” the Barton spokesman said.
In addition to the Pappas responses to The Hill, the Poker Players Alliance has renewed its appeal for players and other interested parties to communicate with their political representatives.
Pappas said that so far tweets and letters to Congressmen submitted through the PPA website had topped 20,000 in total, and that appeals to political representatives submitted outside the PPA system had not been included in that number. He commented:
"We're working overtime to make sure the letters don't gain momentum among state AGs. Either AGs are being misled or they don't care what the message is, they're just going to go along with this because they're being asked to by Sheldon Adelson."
A massive response to the Adelson drive was necessary to quickly confront the start of the land casino magnate’s campaign for his Internet Gambling Control Act, a federal draft bill to amend the Wire Act that has yet to gain a congressional sponsor.
"We want them to earn every inch they try to get in this fight," Pappas said. "We don't want them to push any effort that goes unchallenged."
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