Bad Week for the Anti-Online Gambling Movement

Posted By Steve Ruddock on May 1, 2014

If you’re an opponent of online gambling than the last week is certainly one you would like to forget, as the anti-online gambling movement has suffered setback after setback.

California hearing got the ball rolling

It all started during last week’s California online poker hearing Andy Abboud from the Las Vegas Sands Corp was allowed to address the committee, and while Abboud is seen as a VIP, it didn’t seem like his testimony had the slightest impact on the committee, and in fact appeared to be little more than a formality.

After Abboud’s now well practiced spiel, which includes his trusty cell phone prop he was asked several questions by the committee, including how he and Sheldon Adelson can square their current stance with the fact that they offer online gambling on their property.

Abboud’s response was that if it were up to “his boss” they wouldn’t offer it. Abboud also had extremely weak responses as to why Adelson and Las Vegas Sands didn’t fight against Nevada and New Jersey’s online gambling laws.

Abboud’s paper thin arguments being torn to shreds in California was only one part of the anti-online gambling movement’s bad week, as they came down with a terminal “case of the Monday’s” this week.

McAfee implies regulation helps thwart money laundering

The first Monday morning hiccup was the release of a somewhat vague report by McAfee which seems to indicate that any threat of money laundering via online gambling sites can be solved through regulation.

The author of the report later spoke to Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, explaining how his words were being twisted.

The author, Raj Samani told Stutz, “the small U.S.-based regulated Internet gaming operations ‘are just a drop of water in the ocean’ when looking at the realm of the online wagering universe.” Perhaps more disconcerting for the anti-online gambling crowd was his next statement, where he stated, “Cybercriminals in the U.S., he said, look to unregulated websites in foreign jurisdictions, to launder money.”

James Thackston’s snake oil

The final show to drop on Monday occurred in the evening when Vice President of Player Relations for the Poker players Alliance revealed an E-Mail from 2010 in which James Thackston (he of the online poker is a colluder’s paradise) which clearly shows Thackston trying to hock his software to the Remote Gambling Authority, and using language that the RGA called “extortive” in their response.

Here is part of the E-Mail exchange from 2010 between the two, with James Thackston’s “requests” and the RGA spokesman’s intimation of extortion highlighted:

From: Jim Thackston To Mr. Waxman and J. Sandman

… In the interest of alerting players to the cheating threat, we will soon distribute both the video links and software source code to the database.

We would like the opportunity to discuss this comprehensive solution with your European supporters who are compliant with US gambling and financial laws before we release the software source code or send the email messages.

If I receive a favorable response before the 26th, we will suspend all distribution.

*******************************

From: Clive Hawkswood to James Thackston

…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…

Read the full e-mail exchange here

On Wednesday Muny followed up his previous “pokerleaks” e-mail dump with even more evidence of Thackston’s apparent duplicity, revealing several correspondences between him and Caesars executives, once again showing Thackston attempting to work with pro-online gambling forces, so long as it is for profit.

In Thackston’s own words, he joined the anti-online gambling crowd:

“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.”

Coalition of Republican and Libertarian groups speak out

Monday also saw the a letter signed by 10 separate conservative groups that was sent to the House Judiciary Committee go public, appearing in publications ranging from the extremely conservative Breitbart to the more moderate The Hill.

The letter focuses on the proposed legislation being an overreach by the federal government, and bluntly states, “as we have seen in the past, a ban will not stop online gambling.”

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Chairmen Goodlatte and Leahy, and Ranking Members Conyers and Grassley,

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are writing to express our deep concerns about the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (HR 4301), which would institute a de facto ban on internet gaming in all 50 states. The legislation is a broad overreach by the federal government over matters traditionally reserved for the states. H.R. 4301 will reverse current law in many states and drastically increase the federal government’s regulatory power. As we have seen in the past, a ban will not stop online gambling. Prohibiting states from legalizing and regulating the practice only ensures that it will be pushed back into the shadows where crime can flourish with little oversight. In this black market, where virtually all sites are operated from abroad, consumers have little to no protection from predatory behavior.

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that this bill allows the federal government to take a heavy hand in regulating the Internet, opening the door for increased Internet regulation in the future. By banning a select form of Internet commerce, the federal government is setting a troubling precedent and providing fodder to those who would like to see increased Internet regulation in the future. We fear that H.R. 4301 will begin a dangerous process of internet censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by calculated international infringers while constraining the actions of private individuals and companies in the United States.

H.R. 4301 also creates carve-outs that exempt certain special interests from the federal government’s reach. This amounts to the federal government picking winners and losers –choosing select industries or private-sector businesses to succeed at the expense of others, which is at odds with free-market competition.

In total, H.R. 4301 is an inappropriate and unnecessary use of federal powers that infringes on the rights of individuals and states. We applaud you for standing against this government overreach and preserving the principles of federalism and free-market competition that underscore American democracy.

Sincerely,

Joe Jansen – Alliance for Freedom
Michelle Minton – Competitive Enterprise Institute
Matt Kibbe – FreedomWorks
Andrew Langer – Institute for Liberty
Eli Lehrer – R Street Institute
Steve Pociask – American Consumer Institute
Coley Jackson – Freedom Action
Carrie Lukas – Independent Women’s Forum
Tom Giovanetti – Institute for Policy Innovation
David Williams – Taxpayer Protection Alliance

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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