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Eric Holder Stole My Money Claims Poker Player

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jun/12/2009
Eric Holder

A writer on the Daily Kos has lashed out at President Obama's Department of Justice Head, Eric Holder, accusing him of stealing his and up to $30 million in money belonging to fellow American poker players.

From the Daily Kos:

"Let me make it perfectly clear that there is no federal law banning Americans from playing online poker for money.  There are only two states, Washington and Kentucky, that have prohibited their residents from partaking."

The problem of course is that the DOJ sees things differently.  They are not viewing monies seized as belonging to online poker players, but rather monies used "against the policy of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act", which makes it illegal for banks to transfer funds used for online gambling transactions.  Contrary to what the Poker Players Alliance has told its members, online poker is NOT exempt from this law. 

While the financial institutions have until the end of this year to have in place a system of preventing such transactions, the DOJ can notify banks of suspect funds transfers in the meantime.

Interestingly enough, the DOJ has been more inclined to cite an antiquated 1962 "Wire Act" most often applied to sports betting.

Siding with the PPA is the World Trade Organization (WTO), which found in favor of tiny Antigua in its case against the United States as it pertains to online gambling and "protectionism". 

"The U.S. ban on offshore Internet gambling payments is illegal, the World Trade Organization said yesterday, upholding a decision that allowed for sanctions.

"The WTO said the United States ignored the previous ruling, which challenged the U.S. ban on payments to gambling Web sites while allowing bets on its own soil."

Likewise, the European Union (EU) has stressed the WTO decision, insisting that the US Government is unjustified in going after what it deems as "foreign" Internet gambling enterprises.  The problem here is that a number of EU countries have taken a similar stance to that of the United States.  Furthermore, the actual targets of this seizure appear to be two intermediary companies based inside the US.   The DOJ has focused significant attention on payment processing companies operating, at least partially, within the States.  To date, no "poker only" payment processors were targets (the recent seizure has only affected Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars clients).

Having been involved in this industry for nearly 12 years now, I can honestly say that the DOJ inevitably sees things differently.  The seizures were, in all likelihood, part of an ongoing investigation of the processor(s) in question.  And while it is not illegal to play poker or bet sports in some jurisdictions, the DOJ considers the movement of said funds across state lines as "illegal". 

Law enforcement agencies across the US have better things to do than trying to shut down online poker rooms.  The problem is, the DOJ can't just sit back idle and watch as millions of dollars move in and out of the US without proper policing.

The PPA, The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA.org) and a few other groups are working to get online gambling regulated.  It is not regulated as of yet, and, until that happens, we'll continue to see actions similar to those taken by the DOJ last week. 

On that note, the poker players have not done anything wrong here.  This seizure should have zero effect on whether a customer gets paid or not.  A slight delay in redirecting funds is to be expected under the circumstances, but withholding said funds until this matter is resolved would be outrageous and is not expected.  Full Tilt Poker is already claiming to be reimbursing customers who requested funds via the targeted processor.   PokerStars is expected to follow suit shortly. 

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher 

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