Barney Frank Calls Online Poker Crackdown an Incredible Waste of Time
Weighing in on the mess that is the fallout from Black Friday was U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who gave his two cents on the indictments of the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. In an interview with The Hill, Frank labeled the actions by the Department of Justice “an incredible waste of resources.”
If you like poker references, then Frank’s interview with The Hill is right up your alley. The longtime Representative from Massachusetts told the Capitol Hill news outlet that the Department of Justice’s crackdown merely amounted to “protecting the public from the scourge of inside straights.”
Frank has been one of the champions of the movement to legalize and regulate internet gambling in the United States. HR 2267, a bill introduced by Frank that would have brought the industry above board, was approved by the House Financial Services Committee last July by a 2:1 edge, but failed to see any time on the House floor. When the 111th Congress came to an end in January, Frank’s measure fell by the wayside and was declared dead.
Enter HR 1174, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill, which essentially updates HR 2267 with many of the amendments approved during the markup of the legislation last year, features Frank and Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) as co-sponsors. Others who have endorsed the bill include Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Peter King (R-NY).
Easy math will tell you that of the four Congressmen backing HR 1174, two are Democrats and two are Republicans.
Let’s get back to Frank’s take on the Federal indictments. He explained to The Hill, “Go after the people responsible for empty houses, not full houses. I’m not saying violate the law, but to give this priority in law enforcement over some other things I think is a terrible idea and I think the administration is wrong on this.”
Charges levied on Friday by the Department of Justice included conspiracy to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), violating the UIGEA, operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
Were the Department of Justice’s actions inevitable given the passage of the UIGEA five years ago? Was it just a matter of time before a crackdown of this magnitude occurred? For the answer to that question, Poker News Daily sought out Joe Brennan, Chairman of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, or iMEGA.
Brennan focused on the degree of fraud that was allegedly committed: “When you look at how overt the fraud is alleged to be when it comes to not only recoding transactions, but also going allegedly so far as to co-op banks, you’d have to say that the sites were working on borrowed time. The only thing that I would say surprised me was the allegations about the bank in Utah.”
In the case of SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, Federal prosecutors contend that Chad Elie, a payment processor, approached John Campos, Vice Chairman of the Board and part owner of the bank. According to the indictment, “Campos allegedly agreed to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment in SunFirst by Elie and an associate, which would give them a more than 30% ownership stake in the bank.”
Despite the deck seemingly being stacked against players, Frank added that the Republican Party may soon lighten its stance on internet gambling. “I know the GOP is under a lot of pressure to back off on this,” he told The Hill.
Read the entire article in The Hill.
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