Friday May 2,2014 : ONLINE GAMBLING OPPONENT TRIED TO SELL SOFTWARE TO REMOTE GAMING ASSOCIATION
Old emails could prove embarrassing for Adelson ally.
James Thackston, a Florida-based software engineer who for the last nine years has pushed his anti-online gambling views forward in the political and media environment, could be embarrassed by four-year-old emails that have surfaced this week.
Thackston's emphasis has been on what he sees as the money laundering potential for criminals and terrorists in online gambling, although he has delved into collusion in online poker as well.
He has in the past set up a website with advice on how to defeat online poker operator precautions against money laundering – a publication he subsequently took down after consultation with the FBI, and he has on a number of occasions given evidence to political bodies like the House Financial Services Committee.
The software engineer's views have been given some credibility by the FBI, and he has communicated with various state regulators at different times with generally negative perspectives of online gambling.
Thackston's work has been used in the scare tactics deployed by the anti-online gambling faction pursuing land casino Sheldon Adelson's agenda of seeking a ban on the genre in the United States.
His assertion that it is possible to launder money undetected through online poker websites is now confronted by the allegation – supported by emails from 2010 – that he tried to sell anti-money laundering software to a major European online gambling trade association.
The expose was launched by Rick Muny of the Poker Players Alliance, who used social media channels to reveal that back in 2010 Thackston approached the Remote Gambling Association in an attempt to sell his self-developed software solution for a money laundering practice he had declared was undetectable and uncontrollable on internet poker gambling sites.
Muny didn't explain why he did not expose this apparent conflict of views at the time, but he now asks whether Thackston propounded his theories on money laundering in online poker in order to extort sales of his software solution from operators.
The PPA exec referenced Thackston's website Politics of Poker.com in his expose, noting that it presented the argument that due to money laundering vulnerability, online poker cannot be successfully regulated.
Muny then presented emails showing Thackston's approach to the RGA, which were interpreted as a threat to generate more money laundering publicity if the Thackston software was not purchased.
The software engineer is alleged to have claimed that his software product was effective in bolstering defences against money laundering, and that it had the potential to boost revenues for online operators by between $500 million and $1.8 billion.
Muny scathingly characterises the software as "…a vaporware offer, of no real impact or value."
The PPA vice president says that RGA chief exec Clive Hawkswood refused to buckle to the Thackston offer, and advised him to present his evidence of money laundering to the authorities. In his response to the software engineer, Hawkswood obliquely referenced the attempt to pressure a sale, commenting:
"Unfortunately, and hopefully this was not the intent, your e mail employs some of the language that the industry has previously come across in what would generally be described as attempts to extort money."
Muny comments: "There’s no evidence that Thackston ever complied with that request [to contact the authorities or allow the RGA to do it for him], instead choosing to drop his PoliticsOfPoker.com domain, redoubling his attacks on online poker and selectively approaching US legislators predisposed to wanting to take action against online gambling and gambling in general.
"It also puts the lie to the very domain name Thackston chose when he relaunched his efforts at undetectablelaundering.com, since even by Thackston’s own earlier claims, such laundering attempts wouldn’t be undetectable after all."
The publication Flushdraw carries a full report on the issue, and reproduces the incriminating emails, here:
Muny didn't rest there, however; on Wednesday he reportedly published further evidence against Thackston, revealing that the software engineer had corresponded with Caesars Entertainment executives.
The California Gambler reports that the exchange with Caesars suggests that Thackston was trying to work with pro-online gambling bodies as long as there was a profit for him in it. Thackston is alleged to have pleaded:
“Finally, please understand that my intentions have always been to help the industry and never to harm Harrah’s or any other gaming company. Poverty has forced me to seek a new path [in taking an anti-online gambling stance]."