Written on 4/23/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Anthony Aperman :
Department of Justice indictment of major online poker sites impacts 10 million Americans
In an op-ed article in the Washington Post this week, former US Senator Alphonse D'Amato, the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, makes the point that talking about the legalization of online poker in the United States is misrepresenting the issue…online poker is already legal.
In a reaction to the latest federal attack on internet poker, D'Amato compares the ferocity of the enforcement activities, which included domain seizures, with the Wikileaks alleged terrorism issue, where the domain was left standing.
"Ten million Americans who play poker on the Internet are not able to do so – and they are angry about it," writes D'Amato. "Only after players protested did the Department of Justice agree to allow access to money deposited in personal accounts on these Web sites."
The PPA played a key role in motivating those protests, which reportedly involved over 65 000 Americans complaining to their political representatives and the media in the days immediately following Black Friday.
D'Amato goes on to point out that internet poker does not violate any federal law or the laws of most states.
"The highest court that has ruled on the issue – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in the 2002 In Re: MasterCard decision – stated that the 1961 Wire Act, anti-gambling legalization routinely cited by the Justice Department to malign online poker, applied only to online sports betting," he writes.
"Most federal and state laws define gambling as games of chance. But poker is a game where a player’s success is predominantly determined by that player’s skill. Although the Department of Justice continues to insist that Internet poker is a game of chance, the law – and any poker player’s experience – just doesn’t support that contention."
Revealing that games of poker are played by politicians in Congress, D'Amato stresses that it is not illegal for an individual to play poker on the internet.
"It is unfathomable that policymakers would tell adults that they cannot enjoy a game of Texas hold ’em – in which the player’s ability has direct impact on the outcome – in the privacy of their homes on computers and Internet connections they pay for," the article continues.
"Yet these same lawmakers think it’s perfectly fine for folks to bet on horses or play the lottery, two forms of gambling not remotely in players’ control.
"Why the Justice Department feels it can roll the dice and pick one form of gaming to ban over another is beyond me, and it is beyond the millions of Americans who are being denied their hobby and, for professional players, their livelihood."
The former Senator writes that if he were still an elected official he would acknowledge that it is time to clarify federal law.
"Online poker is legal. Congress should license and regulate Internet poker and allow Americans to play the game they love on trusted, safe online Web sites without fear that the FBI will come knocking."
D’Amato opines that the [US Attorney’s Office for the] Southern District of New York has overreached in spectacular fashion [in its pursuit of online poker companies] and should be reined in.
"Congress should hold the administration accountable for this outrageous affront to individual freedom and quickly pass legalization that would codify once and for all the right of Americans to play the greatest American game," he concludes.