Chairman of the Poker Players alliance (PPA) and former U.S. Senator Alphonse D’Amato has unleashed a scathing report on the current attitude towards online poker by the United States Department of Justice. His article, which was published this week in the Washington Post, rendered the current debate on the question of online poker’s legality obsolete. According to D’Amato, online poker is already legal in the States.
“Ten million Americans who play poker on the Internet are not able to do so – and they are angry about it” says D’Amato, adding “only after players protested did the Department of Justice agree to allow access to money deposited in personal accounts on these Web sites.”
“The highest court that has ruled on the issue – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in the 2002 In Re: MasterCard decision – stated that the 1961 Wire Act, anti-gambling legislation routinely cited by the Justice Department to malign online poker, applied only to online sports betting.” Should his arguments prove true, this would mean that online poker is not only legal, but does not currently violate the federal laws in the majority of American States.
D’Amato presents his evidence in the details of the wording which, he argues, exempt online poker from being classed as a game composed purely of gambling. “Most federal and state laws define gambling as games of chance. But poker is a game where a player’s success is predominantly determined by that player’s skill. Although the Department of Justice continues to insist that Internet poker is a game of chance, the law – and any poker player’s experience – just doesn’t support that contention.”
D’Amato also argued that poker is a game regularly enjoyed by many American Congressmen, and that it is not illegal for an individual to play in exactly the same manner online. “It is unfathomable that policy-makers would
tell adults that they cannot enjoy a game of Texas Hold’em – in which the player’s ability has direct impact on the outcome – in the privacy of their homes on computers and Internet connections they pay for” he stated. ”Yet these same lawmakers think it’s perfectly fine for folks to bet on horses or play the lottery, two forms of gambling not remotely in player’s control… Why the Justice Department feels it can roll the dice & pick one form of gaming to ban over another is beyond me, and it is beyond the millions of Americans who are being denied their hobby and, for professional players, their livelihood.”
D’Amato also stressed that, were he still in office, he would push for a legal clarification, which should have happened in the States a long time ago. “Online poker is legal. Congress should license and regulate Internet poker and allow Americans to play the game they love on trusted, safe online Web sites without fear that the FBI will come knocking.” He also voiced his belief that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has grossly over-reached itself in this matter, and should be reigned in. D’Amato equated the seizure of the PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absoulte Poker domains to the allegations of terrorism which were recently held against Wikileaks. ”Congress should hold the administration accountable for this outrageous affront to individual freedom and quickly pass legislation that would codify once and for all the right of Americans to play the greatest American game.”
The Poker Players Alliance is responsible for staging and motivating large-scale protests across the United States in order to demand the rights of Americans to play online poker. Those in the UK who wish to show their support can sign up the the PPA’s Facebook group here http://www.facebook.com/theppa.