If you’re an online gambling affiliate, you know what we’re talking about. If you’re just a player who likes a hand of poker or blackjack once in while, read on and learn why the USA government is the pot calling the kettle black.
In recent weeks, starting with the seizure of PokerStars.com, AbsolutePoker.com/UltimateBet.com, and FullTiltPoker.com in May, the online USA facing online gambling industry has been in complete turmoil, unsure of what’s going to happen next or whose website might get commandeered by the government. Professional poker players who made thousands of dollars playing online are now out of a job. USA customers loyal to offshore gambling casinos and sportsbooks are also seeing tough times: some outfits have stopped accepting USA players altogether and have turned their attention to Europe while others simply closed and got out of Dodge.
The USA government’s unprecedented actions would make sense if ANY and ALL forms of online gambling were banned in the USA. Further, if there was an express law against online gambling, seizing websites breaking this law would make sense. The problem is, the 2006 UIGEA only makes processing payments to offshore gambling operations illegal, not the actual businesses themselves. The USA would be clearly overstepping its jurisdiction if it started closing casinos in Costa Rica or Antigua; but this doesn’t matter since the government’s fear tactics have already scared a number of online gaming companies out of the business.
So where’s the hypocrisy? Look no further than Washington D.C. itself and neighboring state Kentucky. Anyone involved in the gaming industry most certainly remembers Kentucky governor Steve Beshear’s blitzkrieg against online gambling domain names, believing that the owners of each domain name represented businesses that were stealing money from the Kentucky economy. As a result, many offshore gaming companies were put on the defensive while lawyers went to court in Kentucky to reclaim their domain names, thanks in part to the efforts of the IMEGA advocacy group. The case itself is still in legal limbo while Kentucky officials plan an appeal to a higher court.
Now imagine if a court in Iran ruled that CNN was promoting the agenda of the “infidels”: could it summon owners to Tehran and strip them of their domain name? Probably not, but this is what kind of legal precedent is being set with Kentucky’s actions.
Just recently, Washington DC has made overtures towards starting the nation’s first legal online casino and poker room. For those outside the United States, Washington DC is not a state: it is simply a place where the federal government operates independent from the interests of any other governing body. Citizens of the District live much like any other American and are allowed to vote, own property, and get a D.C. driver’s license. The district’s Attorney General and a forward thinking group of politicians believe Washington could make as much as $13 million over the next four years if the plan is approved. Logistics are still in the works. Concerns voiced by opponents include the usual smattering of proper age verification, problem gambling prevention, and the denigration of societal values.
Funny eh? The capital building is a stone’s throw from the DC municipal government offices, and yet online gambling could realistically be offered in the District of Columbia VERY soon! Watch out fellow Senators, we hear John McCain has a MEAN poker face!
Next we move to Kentucky, the blue grass state and home of Churchill Downs, the location of the annual Kentucky Derby. Suffice to say, Kentucky is the home of American horse racing, with thousands of foals sired every year and hundreds training to compete in well over 150 races across the country. Governor Beshear used Kentucky’s horse racing legacy as a means to leverage his outspoken position against online gambling, effectively subpoenaing every domain name owner that was “stealing money from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Whether or not an online gambling business in Antigua is “stealing” from Kentucky is questionable, let alone a bit overzealous to say the least. Meanwhile, Kentucky recently allowed a business group to open TwinSpires.com, the nation’s first, fully legal online racebook. Customers from around the nation can join TwinSpires.com and deposit funds much like any offshore racebook. Then, they have access to nearly every horse race in the country, with betting action offered year round at various different tracks.
It’s interesting that Beshear hasn’t shut TwinSpires.com down. It’s “online gambling”, right? Oh, we forgot: this business essentially helps pay Beshear’s salary, supplying tax revenue to the state. In this case, online gambling is OK.
To be clear, we’re not against the TwinSpires.com horse racebook model or any other form of legal USA gambling be it poker, casino, or sports betting. The problem lies with two faced politicians who are stuck in the past and allow their own greed to govern their decision making.
It’s good that Kentucky and Washington D.C. are moving forward towards the creation of a national online gambling industry, but it’s also unfortunate that these efforts come at the expense of legal offshore businesses operating in other countries who are not subject to any USA law whatsoever.
Face it lawmakers: you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. USA online gambling either becomes legal and competitive with offshore businesses, or you continue to lie and collect a paycheck making a mockery of sovereign nations that legally license and regulate online casinos, poker rooms, or sportsbooks.
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