After receiving a petition scripted by the Poker Players Alliance approximately eight months ago, the Obama administration recently issued a response prepared by Brian Deese, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. While Deese’s response acknowledges that the legal status of certain Internet gambling activities, including online poker, “is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located,” his reply fails to address the main points discussed in the original petition.
In the petition the Poker Players Alliance submitted on September 22 of last year, the group details the potential benefits that the legalization and regulation of web-based poker at the national level may have for poker players, the population at large and the federal government. The petition specifically describes the potential that federal legislation would have to protect underage individuals and “those with excessive gaming habits,” to create much-needed jobs, and to generate tax revenue “without raising taxes.” It also cites horse racing websites operated in the United States as proof that “online betting sites can be successfully regulated” and that “it is time to allow online poker the same opportunity.”
Despite the potential benefits laid out by the Poker Players Alliance, the White House’s response to the PPA’s petition discusses the possible dangers of online gambling in its third paragraph, which reads:
“The rapid and anonymous nature of the internet distinguishes online games from onsite games, such as those in casinos, and creates distinct challenges. For example, there are many means of technologically circumventing restrictions on online gambling that can allow individuals from countries where gambling is illegal — or even minors — to play using real currency. Online games also have greater potential for fraud because gambling websites are much cheaper and easier to establish than on-site locations, and like telemarketing scams, can appear and disappear overnight. Finally, online gambling can be used in money laundering schemes because of the volume, speed, anonymity, and international reach made possible by internet transactions. The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.”
Even with the White House expressing its concern with online gambling, John Pappas, the Executive Director of the PPA seemed pleased with the response crafted by Deese when Poker News quoted him as saying, “Today’s petition response is promising in the respect that each of the issues raised by the White House can be and will be addressed by U.S. regulation of the industry. The best response is for Congress to put a bill on the president’s desk that protects consumers, restores personal freedom and raises much needed revenue.”
On its website, Whitehouse.gov, the Obama administration is giving people the chance to provide feedback regarding its response to the PPA’s petition and the others that were submitted as part of the administration’s “We the People” program. People will have the chance to give their opinion about whether the White House’s response to a particular petition was “helpful” and whether it “adequately addressed the concerns in the petition,” among other things.