Written On 4/27/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Emily Apontif :
But Loveman insists on a federal solution, and it only embraces poker
Achieving wide coverage that included major newspapers, CNN Money, Fortune magazine and Associated Press articles this week was an op-ed article written by Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman, supporting the idea of legalised online poker in the USA through the federal rather than individual state route.
The piece was prompted by the recent enforcement actions against major online poker sites, which Loveman sees as an opportunity for the United States to fully
legalise and regulate the $6 billion industry…but the tone of the article suggests that he's focused particularly on internet poker.
“Only federal legalization can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games,” Loveman wrote.
Loveman appears to share the controversial US Department of Justice view that internet poker is expressly illegal in the United States, asserting: "Online poker is currently illegal in the U.S. and, as a result, the $6 billion industry has developed overseas, catering to the wishes of millions of Americans playing from their homes in Ohio, California, Mississippi and every other state. That's crazy."
But the land gambling executive points out that legal actions against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker won’t change whether millions of Americans want to play online poker.
“Instead, the question is this: Should we seize the moment to legalize online poker, permit a safe and legitimate industry in the U.S., and bring these jobs and revenues home?” Loveman wrote.
“Unequivocally, the answer is yes.”
Associated Press noted that Caesars has long espoused the need to regulate and tax online gambling, and that Loveman’s comments are the first public statements about the indictments from the company that owns the World Series of Poker.
In his piece, Loveman compares the current US market enforcement moves to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, saying adults are being hamstrung by a law keeping them from activities they consider appropriate.
“Business is being diverted from legitimate, respected companies that employ thousands of people to fly-by-night, underground (and in this case, foreign) operations,” Loveman said in his article, titled "Online Poker – Legalize It.”
"Just like Prohibition, consumers lose all of the protections that come with a government-regulated onshore business. And millions of otherwise law-abiding adult Americans are hamstrung by a law they disrespect and consider to be a barrier to a perfectly appropriate activity," he warns.
Loveman claims that the latest Department of Justice actions have created a unique opportunity to "…bring thousands of jobs home to America, to generate revenues that benefit Americans rather than foreign companies and to bring clarity to the current ambiguous set of federal laws.”
And he recommends: “We should seize the moment."
He adds: "The question we face isn't "will there be online poker?" Millions of Americans have already answered that question through their regular play, and the latest indictments won't change that. In fact, less than 24 hours after the three poker sites were closed, other foreign operators began filling the void."
Turning to the mechanics of regulation, Loveman emphasises the need for a federal solution, saying: "Unfortunately, however well-intentioned it may be, state level legalization will not adequately address the problems that currently exist.
"The goals of legalization are simple: let Americans play online poker in the privacy of their homes, and create jobs and revenues here in America. Only federal legalization can accomplish that, by creating a well-regulated system of online poker. And only federal legalization can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games."
Loveman goes on to detail the generally accepted requirements for sound regulation, covering fair gaming, problem gambling and under-age precautions, financial probity, measures to guard against criminal involvement, money laundering and cheating, and shielding the privacy of players.
"In short, this bill should recognize the reality of the world we live in….And it should acknowledge that as a game of skill, poker deserves to be treated differently than other forms of gambling," Loveman opines.
He optimistically concludes: "One day, we'll look back at 2011 and laugh at the folly of a ban on Internet poker — just like we now think about Prohibition. The sooner that day comes, the better."