Monday May 21, 2012 : U.S. PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO POKER PLAYER PETITION (Update)
Eight months on it's better late than never….but there are few fireworks in the White House response.
Remember all the enthusiasm around a petition for the legalization of online poker aimed at the White House?
It would not be surprising if it has faded in your memory….that was all of eight months ago. On Friday, with little fanfare, one of the President's men responded on the White House website, but there was little to grab the imagination or encourage celebration in what he had to say.
The Deputy Director of the National Economic Council (and he's a presidential special assistant on economics, too), Brian Deese was brief in responding to the petition, which was signed by thousands of hopeful poker players across the USA last year.
This is what he had to say:
"Thank you for taking the time to participate in the "We the People" petition process. We launched this online tool as a way of hearing directly from you, and are pleased to see that it has been effective in soliciting your feedback. We understand your interest in the petition to support the legalization of online poker, and appreciate the opportunity to share President Obama's concerns about this issue.
"The Administration understands that many Americans engage in paid online poker games for entertainment purposes. Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers, but online gambling that is not authorized by state law may also violate federal statutes.
"The rapid and anonymous nature of the internet distinguishes online games from onsite games, such as those in casinos, and creates distinct challenges. For example, there are many means of technologically circumventing restrictions on online gambling that can allow individuals from countries where gambling is illegal — or even minors — to play using real currency. Online games also have greater potential for fraud because gambling websites are much cheaper and easier to establish than on-site locations, and like telemarketing scams, can appear and disappear overnight. Finally, online gambling can be used in money laundering schemes because of the volume, speed, anonymity, and international reach made possible by internet transactions. The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.
"Thank you once again for signing the online petition. We appreciate hearing your opinions and look forward to hearing from you again soon."
That seems to leave the legalization ball in the states' court, confirming the astonishing about-turn on the Wire Act that the Department of Justice announced in December last year, an event that has given added stimulation to the legalization debate in America.
The tone of the third paragraph is less encouraging, and could be seen as too casually dismissing the current state of anti-money laundering, underage gambling and fraud prevention technology deployed by the online industry.
However, at least the paragraph ends with a rather bland commitment that the Obama administration will keep an open mind on the issue.
Our perception is that this response does little to practically take the will of the petitioners forward.
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance activist group, probably summed up the industry view when he commented:
"The best response is for Congress to put a [legalization] bill on the president's desk that protects consumers, restores personal freedom and raises much needed revenue."
InfoPowa readers who would like to make their feelings known regarding the presidential response can give feedback here: