FairPlay USA members pen pro-online gaming op-ed

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Feb 17, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

On Friday, former Pennsylvania Governor and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge wrote an editorial for the Washington Examiner along with former FBI Director Louis Freeh to make the case for online gaming legislation at the federal level.

The two men are not simply spouting off across ideological lines; they are both part of the Board of Advisors for the pro-online gaming advocacy group FairPlay USA, which has been at the forefront of the recent debate regarding online gaming legislation, including online poker, and have been reviewing this issue for some time.

In the editorial, the pair makes the case that antiquated laws and new laws with vague wording only exacerbate the problem. Ridge and Freeh call for “clarity and enforcement” when it comes to online gaming laws. Having resumes that include Homeland Security Secretary and FBI Director gives the two men a unique perspective of the issue from a law enforcement standpoint –as well as giving far more weight to their words in Washington DC.

The main point of emphasis in the article is that despite efforts by the US Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies, there are some 1,700 offshore online poker sites bringing in some $4 billion to $6 billion annually, and up until last year most of these sites were active in the United States.

Not only were these sites operating in the US, in direct violation of the outdated and poorly-worded laws that were in place, but they offered little in the way of safeguards against “fraud, underage gambling and money laundering.”

The pair also bolsters their case by citing the calls for legislation by a number of national law enforcement groups and agencies like the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of District Attorneys and the National Association of Police Organizations. The article also claims that “Organizations ranging from nationally recognized Internet child and consumer protection advocates to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are also advocating for a federal solution to the issue of Internet gambling.”

Instead of calling for Congress to act (which would likely just lead to more legislation with vague language) Ridge and Freeh offer up a blueprint for action, citing four points of contention that must be addressed by Congress in order to make online poker a safe, fair, legal, and regulated industry:

“First, modernize and strengthen the Wire Act, as well as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 to eliminate illegal Internet gambling and unambiguously define related crimes.

“Provide federal law enforcement agencies with additional tools to crack down on rogue operators and empower those agencies to shut down illegal sites, working with financial institutions to stop illegal gambling.

“Protect the rights of states to determine what forms of gambling are legal within their borders, by giving them the authority to accept or prohibit online poker and mandate geo-location tools to block consumers in prohibited jurisdictions.

“Finally, establish a strict and uniform gambling regulatory framework for licensing and enforcement of online poker only in jurisdictions that choose to accept the activity with state-of-the-art technology and strong regulations.”

You can read the entire op-ed by Tom Ridge and Louis Freeh at the Washington Examiner

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