On Tuesday, the financial website Fortune published an article written by Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman in which he expounds upon his desire for online poker to be completely legal and fully regulated in the United States.
In the piece, Loveman said that the recent indictments of 11 people involved in online poker, including the founders of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker, may actually be the catalyst that is needed to speed up pro-poker legislation.
“The question we face isn’t ‘Will there be online poker?'” he began. “Millions of Americans have already answered that question through their regular play, and the latest indictments won’t change that. In fact, less than 24 hours after the three poker sites were closed, other foreign operators began filling the void.”
“Instead, the question is this: ‘Should we seize the moment to legalize online poker, permit a safe and legitimate industry in the U.S., and bring those jobs and revenues home?’ Unequivocally, the answer is yes.”
After making the frequently used comparison to the Prohibition of the 1920s, Loveman began to outline his view of regulation:
“The goals of legislation are simple: let Americans play online poker in the privacy of their homes and create jobs and revenues here in America. Only Federal legislation can accomplish that, by creating a well-regulated system of online poker. And only Federal legislation can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games.”
Loveman then laid out what he feels needs to be included in any online poker bill. The first batch of requirements relates to preventing criminal activity: tight oversight by a regulatory body; technology to curb fraud, identity theft, and cheating; and control of financial transactions to prevent money laundering.
He then addressed consumer protection, again saying that the top-of-the-line technology already used in other industries is needed to combat underage gambling. Additionally, a system should be in place to allow for control, such as loss limits, deposit limits, and self-exclusion. To further assist problem gamblers, legislation should include “unprecedented Federal funding” for problem gambling services.
Finally, the Caesars Entertainment CEO addressed what should be included in Federal legislation to aid law enforcement. As many people already desire, the law should be clear as to what is legal and what is illegal, and penalties should be defined.
“In short,” he followed, “this bill should recognize the reality of the world we live in, protect the interests of law-abiding citizens who want to play a little poker from the privacy of their homes, create thousands of new jobs, and produce millions of dollars in new economic activity. And it should acknowledge that as a game of skill, poker deserves to be treated differently than other forms of gambling.”
Reactions in the online poker community have been mixed. On the TwoPlusTwo forums, one commenter wrote, “You can tell he is a genius business man and fortunately he/Caesars were backing online poker pre-Black Friday, which to me means he is serious about getting ipoker legalized. Really great person/company to have in our corner.”
A skeptic responded, “This guy isn’t really ‘in our corner.’ He’s in the corner of wanting to make [lots] of money. The best we can hope for at the moment is that it coincidentally takes online poker the direction we want it to go.”
Others were more critical, accusing Caesars Entertainment and the other American brick-and-mortar gambling companies of pushing for the indictments simply to get the major competition out of the way in preparation for the day when online poker is fully legalized and regulated in the United States.
Caesars owns and operates the World Series of Poker (WSOP), which draws a portion of its players from online satellites. While there will still be plenty of players from outside of the U.S. qualifying online, there will be very few from the United States, resulting in a possible decline in this year’s WSOP registration numbers.