A New York Times report on confirmation hearings for a member of the new US presidential team foreshadows continued Department of Justice hassles for online gambling in the United States.
Eric Holder is president-elect Obama's choice for the important Attorney General post, and as we indicated in a recent InfoPowa report, this official has a history of lobbying involvement with the vehemently anti-Internet gambling and influential national sports leagues in America – in particular the powerful NFL.
In the confirmation hearings, it was clear that Holder had had earlier discussions with long-time online gambling opponent Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, as the question and answer session at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/us/politics/16text-holder.html?_r=1&pagewanted=65 went like this:
KYL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There seem to be an inordinate number of members of this committee and the finance committee that discussed and talked about the potential for fraud and money- laundering and organized crime. Again, I won't go through all of that.
HOLDER: That's correct, Senator.
KYL: And then we discussed the [UIGEA] regulations that were issued recently, actually, jointly by the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department in consultation with the attorney-general. The regulations primarily try to go at the [online gambling] problem by thwarting the payments for unlawful Internet gambling – in other words, to shut off the cash flow.
And I mentioned the fact that they [supporters of online gambling legalization] were already beginning to spend millions of dollars in an effort to try to undo these regulations somehow and hope that you would – and you indicated you would – oppose efforts to modify or to stop those regulations, and, of course, continue to be vigilant in enforcing those regulations to shut off the flow of cash from this illegal activity. Is that your intention?
HOLDER: Yes, that is my position. That's what I will do.
KYL: Yes, thank you, and I appreciate that very much. And we could talk a lot more about the pernicious nature of Internet gambling, but in view of the time here, let me move on.
ESPN picked up on the New York Times story, commenting: "If the Senate confirms Holder as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, he will be responsible for federal prosecutions throughout the U.S.
"It is possible committee members will ask Holder about his stand on enforcing drug laws against players in light of his past representation of a professional league and its athletes. Holder is still being paid for his NFL work, with $2.5 million in deferred compensation and separation payments coming to him in 2009, according to a financial disclosure statement he filed with the Judiciary Committee in mid-December."
ESPN refers to the transcript of the confirmation hearing, where Kyl inquires of Holder, “The question that I’d ask and wanted just to get confirmed for the record is that you indicated that under your leadership, the Department of Justice would continue to aggressively enforce the law against the forms of internet gambling that DOJ considers illegal.”
Holder responded affirmatively to this, leading ESPN to expand on the issue of legality by examining the confusing situation brought about by legislative "carve-outs" or exceptions in US federal anti-Internet gambling law such as horseracing, state lotteries and fantasy sports.
The U.S. Department of Justice which Holder will effectively lead appears to be out of step with both legislators and the exceptions they created in its continued insistence that all internet gambling, even on horse racing, is illegal.