PokerPulse - history of past weekly best stories!!
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August 15, 2008

Free pass for Kahnawake?. That's again the big question, especially after revelations of longtime, ongoing U.S. investigations of Bodog and former CEO Calvin Ayre, who recently transferred ownership of the company to the Morris Mohawk group. Pundits at the time suggested the transfer provided Bodog with virtual immunity from prosecution, allowing Mohawks to continue soliciting billions of dollars in wagers tax- and regulation-free. We're not so sure. Several months ago, PokerPulse asked Canada's justice minister whether Mohawks have been secretly granted exclusive control of Internet gambling in that country and if so how so. View the minister's reply and our subsequent e-mail to Quebec's attorney general here.

 

June 28, 2008

Special relationship now a loaded dice. We were pleased as punch to see an opinion piece in The Times recently taking issue against the U.S. over its hypocritical prosecution of foreign Internet gambling firms and executives while the its own industry continues to profit unabated. 'Remarkably,' the writer states, 'U.S. companies are developing equivalent businesses in the UK and elsewhere in Europe on eqal terms with UK and European businesses.' View a link to the piece here and add your comments.

In other U.S. prosecutions of foreign nationals this week, media magnate Conrad Black continued his losing streak on the fraud case that put him behind bars in Florida. Lord Black lost his bid to appeal. View highlights of the scathing judgment written by Richard Posner, J. for the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court here.

 

June 14, 2008

Sometimes the victim really did go crazy. In Baku's STILL infamous Bailov Prison, once again Stalin preferred the company of rogues to revolutionaries. He was 'always seen in the company of cutthroats, blackmailers, robbers and the gunslingers - the Mauserists.' Sometimes the criminal prisoners raided the politicals, but the Georgian criminals, probably organized by Stalin, served as their bodyguards. In power, he shocked his comrades by promoting criminals in the NKVD, but he had used criminals all his life. The two groups came together to bet on prison games such as wrestling competitions and louse-racing, but there was another more cryptic game the boys enjoyed. More about 'Madness' and other Mortal Gambles.

 

June 07, 2008

ANOTHER cheating scandal at Kahnawake: This one may run into millions according to industry observers, casting still further doubt over the maverick Mohawks' Internet gambling regulatory scheme operating outside Canadian law. Is it time to shut down MIT once and for all or will Canada move to allow ALL Canadians a chance to profit from the industry, which continues to grow even in the U.S. despite America's remote gambling ban currently under fire worldwide? More on the story and one of the experts who helped create MIT's 'regulatory' scheme here.

 

June 01, 2008

Feel the heat!. Pressure is mounting against the U.S. - inside AND out - to re-think the remote gambling ban. While Antigua has been in Washington trying for a final settlement to avoid arbitration - NEVER good for either party, as we saw in December, 2007 - Barney Frank's bill to halt enforcement has gathered momentum, and the investigation by European trade officials into discriminatory U.S. trade practices looks increasingly as if it will lead to a full-scale, super-sized, Antigua-style WTO challenge. More at our U.S. forum.

 

February 09, 2008

The Four-Part, Four-Flusher Fantasy.. That's literally how PokerPulse describes the bizarre accounting applied by a panel of three WTO arbitrators recently to Antigua's claim for lost gambling revenues to $21 million - down considerably from the original figure of $3.4 billion determined slowly and painfully by a legion of dull, number-crunching actuaries. Sadly, the panelist we call the Lone Ranger couldn't make the team see sense, so Antigua's fight for right continues here into 2008. It ain''t over 'til the fat lady sings. The decision also warns that ALL sites still taking U.S. bets are open to U.S. prosecution, which means asset seizure and no payout of winnings!. So how come some sites seem more equal than others? WHO'S NEXT on DoJ's list? View two or three of our best guesses here. And in case anyone's worried, it would take a LOT more than the mere cocktail puff IP slaves are blowing like burst balloons over the Caribbean as if to preclude the island nation from enjoing the benefit of its double-win - AS IF!

 

Janury 26, 2008

But PokerPlayer claims U.S. Internet gamblers are NOT at risk ... .
Yes, here's an excerpt from the offending column by I. Nelson Rose, which appeared Jan. 7/08: Although Prohibition 2.0 scared the bejesus out of publicly-traded poker companies, it actually does only two things: It creates one new crime, being a gambling business that accepts money for unlawful Internet gambling transactions, and requires new regulations for payment processors. What it doesn't do is make it a crime to play poker on the Internet. It doesn't directly restrict players from sending or receiving money. It doesn't spell out what forms of gambling are "unlawful." Specifically, it does not do what the federal Department of Justice ("DOJ") wanted, which was to "clarify" that the Wire Act covers Internet casinos, lotteries and poker. The new felony it creates is greatly limited. Only gambling businesses can be convicted, not players.
The folly of this analysis is two-fold:
1. It fails to take account of the risk U.S. prosecution of an Internet gambling site poses to winners hoping to collect their winnings. Quite simply, you probably won't or you won't for a very long time if DoJ freezes/seizes company assets it considers to be the proceeds of crime.
2. Can you trust recent assurances the U.S. will prosecute ONLY site operators - NOT American gamblers? As noted in America's OUCH! case again in the arbitration report released pre-Christmas/07, DoJ as recently as 1998 indeed encouraged Antigua to establish its Internet gambling business. As Ilsa told the Nazi general offering her conditional immunity in Casablanca, "We know what your promises are worth."
More at our Selecting an online room page.

 

December 15, 2007

Cups UP to PartyGaming's home team this week for braving Arctic gales in the Frostback capital to defend Canada's access to remote gambling services -- services which, ironically, Canadians are not (yet!) permitted to provide. CEO Mitch Garber along with the Montreal trade lawyer who chairs Party's international affairs division PLUS a former RCMP commish now with the company headed en masse to a Senate review of a piece of criminal law reform that attracted little media attention though it might have spelled the end of Internet gambling in Canada. More on the story here and check out the PartyGaming poker product here.

 

November 17, 2007

Bring on the girls! PokerPulse doffs its poker visor this week to the women, who have quietly become Internet gambling's best advocates. Most notably, we credit poker champ Annie Duke and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who both gave especially eloquent testimony in favor of U.S. regulation before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. It was also clear from the proceedings that U.S. Ambassador Susan Schwab has succeeded in persuading even a number of anti-gambling officials against the dangers of recklessly disregarding hard-won trade agreements. Even U.S. Attorney 'Hellcat' Hanaway had good news for the industry. Her explanation that although providing Internet gambling services within the U.S. is a crime, the act itself of gambling online by U.S. residents is not, will no doubt keep operators in the market and industry lawyers in billable hours for some time. More on the story here.

 

October 27, 2007

World's Craziest Poker Game. Or at least Eastern Europe's. Could there be a game to beat the dark one described in Liquidation, a novel by Hungarian Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz, we wonder? You be the judge this week at the Roll & Shuffle here.

 

October 6, 2007

NEW! PokerPulse Graph Charting the Sky-high Cost of U.S. Protectionism. UK gambling firms recently upped the ante in the GATS-slash compensation negotiations with the U.S. over Internet gambling prohibitions, setting the figure at an estimated $100 billion. Now add this to the combined $7 billion Antigua is claiming for GATS-breach and GATS-slash. Then there are the other six WTO nations preparing to belly up to the bowl. Pressure is clearly mounting on the U.S. to reverse the ban, a once remote possibility that may be more likely as the House reviews new UIGEA regulations that could make enforcement a logistical as well as a political nightmare. How much will a closed market cost America in real U.S. dollars? Follow the numbers as we track developments in these highly-charged negotiations beginning this week here.

 

September 29, 2007

How long, hesitation blues. How long will it take for Antigua and seven other WTO nations to finally settle over U.S. Internet gambling prohibitions? Not as long as you might think. Take our fast-track PokerPulse tour of the process to see where the dispute is today and how arbitration deadlines keep settlements from stalling. On that same front, U.S. trade ambassador Sue Schwab may be an unexpected ally of Internet gambling, according to a profile in this week's Fortune. Apparently, Schwab has been an active supporter of the WTO process and has gone up against labor-sensitive Democrats repeatedly to keep the U.S. door open to business. Could she be the dark horse to save the industry?

 

September 22, 2007

Surrounded. The U.S. concluded another dark week in its increasingly futile bid to protect domestic gambling from foreign competitors. According to Newsweek International, moguls from Hollywood and Silicon Valley are in Washington urging trade officials to cut a deal with Antigua to prevent bootlegging before the next WTO deadline. Too late! Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Washington-based iMEGA is in federal court to restrain DoJ from enforcing UIGEA, an afterthought in the Safe Port bill so riddled with holes it looks more like a Swiss cheese. Then there are the exit-GATS compensation claims now thought to total as much as $100 billion U.S. Better days, Mister Whiskers.

 

September 08, 2007

You PLAY, the Busher PAYS! Real-time counts of the high cost to the U.S. of its remote gambling prohibitions are starting to come in ... for this year, at least, though details on the exit-GATS compensation claims by seven countries in addition to Antigua are still just a trickle. Plot your own graph or track the numbers along with PokerPulse under America's OUCH! case.

 

August 18, 2007

London Calling. Antigua's not fussed by the delay in including its operators among the first cut of Britain's infamous White List announced this week. Islanders, who have been regulating the industry for 10 years now, expect to pass muster easily by month's end.

Should I stay or should I go? Rock along with the Clash classic as we puzzle our way through China's one-eye-open, one-eye-closed online gaming policy. Click here at our Asia/Pacific Rim forum for our fully-annotated PokerPulse compilation of news, law and business analysis explaining the best way in to China's super-size market.

 

August 11, 2007

Land of the Land of the Long White Cloud casting shadow of protectionism. Christchurch Casino was forced to sell its Antigua-based Internet gambling operations, KiwiCasino, recently under pressure by New Zealand's Internal Affairs Dept. and that country's Internet gambling prohibitions... prohibitions that nevertheless permit a thriving domestic industry. More on the prohibitions and the local carve-outs at our Pacific Rim/Asia forum.

 

July 28, 2007

America's 'OUCH!' case: If the forum this week on Internet gambling at Washington's Cato Institute is anything to go by, Antigua finally may have found its mark. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) declined even to send a representative to the discussion, and both panel and audience questions focused almost exclusively on the huge compensation sought by eight WTO countries, including the Euopean Communities, over the U.S. decision to breach GATS rather than settle with Antigua. Watch the discussion or read our take on it at our Caribbean forum.

Ostensible deferral. Neteller resumed public trading this week after signing a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), a sort of contract of forebearance with the U.S. Justice Dept. in which DOJ foregoes prosecution, at least for now, in exchange for - gulp! - a signed confession of guilt. Expanding the use of DPA agreements was the brainwave of a former Deputy Attorney General. It's a decision that has met with considerable criticism from the white-collar bar. Find out why DPAs would be unlikely to survive a legal challenge in other common law countries at our Canadian forum.

 

July 21, 2007

Has the U.S. finally gone bananas over Internet gambling? An expert on Caribbean affairs told us there is no relationship between huge WTO compensation claims announced recently after the U.S. decision to attempt a withdrawal of gambling services from GATS, and USTR's latest bid to re-open the bananas dispute with Europe. Nevertheless, EC and CARICOM nations, all strong supporters of Antigua in the Cross-Border Betting Dispute with the U.S., will be heavily impacted by the review. More on the story at our Caribbean Forum.

 

July 07, 2007

Rock the Casbah. Eight countries, including economic heavyweights Japan, Canada and the European Communities (EC), were reported this week to have served formal notice that they'll be cashing in big-time on U.S. protectionism in gambling. It's a spectacular move that must be rocking Washington trade officials to their collective foundation. WTO rules allow members to claim future damages - even if they have no stake whatsoever in Internet gambling - if the U.S. follows through on its stated intention to break the GATS treaty in order to remove gambling from the agreement. It's a high price to pay for a closed market -- too high, according to a number of U.S. entertainment giants poised to enter the market if the U.S. House Finance Committee votes yes to a bill proposed by chair Barney Frank. More on the bill at our U.S. Forum. More on the mounting cost of international compensation if it doesn't pass at our Caribbean Forum.

 

June 02, 2007

ALL ABOARD America's Gravy Train. Antigua has called on all 150 World Trade Organization (WTO) nations to stake a SUPER-SIZED claim against the recent U.S. proposal to break GATS rather than re-open its market to remote gambling services. It's a decision that could cost the U.S. Treasury $ millions - probably $ billions. More on the story, including our own Spongebob Squarepants spoof of the hurdles involved in withdrawing from GATS, at our Bikini Bottom, er, Caribbean forum.

 

May 12, 2007

A U.S.-led Gambling Jamboree! That's the likeliest outcome of the U.S. Trade Representative's latest super-sized combat manoeuver in the Cross-Border Betting Dispute with Antigua. Deputy USTR John Veroneau announced May 4/07 that rather than opening its market to remote gambling services, the U.S. will re-negotiate the GATS agreement.Yeah, right. Why not while you're at it move the Rocky Mountains one foot east? More on the impossible odds Uncle Sam faces in invoking Article XXI plus a hint of the tidy profits to be made if he succeeds - and not just by Antigua - at our Caribbean forum.

 

April 28, 2007

Hesitation Blues. House Finance Committee Chair Barney Frank was in the headlines this week with a welcome bid to re-open the super-sized U.S. Internet gambling market, but it comes at a price that critics say smacks ' of more protectionism, the issue that brought a shame-faced U.S. Trade Representative before a WTO compliance review panel recently. Antigua and its lawyers were - not surprisingly - the most vocal enthusiasts of Frank's new bill, maybe because earlier this month WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy was in the Caribbean, assuring Antigua and other trade officials that yes, the U.S. will indeed comply with trade obligations toward remote gambling operators...but when? More on the bill and Lamy at our U.S. forum.

 

April 21, 2007

Friends of Antigua in high places. Former Canadian Tory Justice Minister Doug Lewis is in court this week with CBC over a story from 2001 that Lewis was running an illegal Internet gambling site. CBC reporter Sasa Petricic insists he was able to log on to Lewis' Antigua-operated site, Tropical Casino, and place a bet using a Canadian address and Canadian funds. Lewis' lawyer says Petricic's bet was "caught" within 20 minutes and that he was given a full refund, but CBC claims the money represented actual winnings. More on the lawsuit and Lewis, one of Canada's most outspoken I-gaming enthusiasts, at our Canadian legal forum.

 

April 14, 2007

Something's coming. Some have called Asia the online gambling industry's prize while others have criticized that assertion, citing radically different customs and living arrangements as impossible obstacles to overcome. Earlier this month, there were reports of a crackdown by China on Internet gambling despite its pro-Antigua role in the recent WTO compliance review, and despite recent assurances by a top government legal adviser that UK-style regulation is coming soon to the Chinese territory of Macau. One thing's certain, Macau now outstrips Vegas as the international casino capital with revenues exceeding $7 billion from its 22 casinos in 2006. Does this mean China is becoming more open to gambling generally? Get the jump on gambling in Macau, including its successful anti-terror, anti-crime strategy, at our Pacific Rim forum.

 

March 31, 2007

No dice! The World Trade Organization (WTO) finally released its long-awaited report March 30/07 on the U.S. response to previous rulings strongly favoring Antigua in the Cross-Border Betting Dispute. Not surprisingly, the report concludes that the U.S. has not complied despite ample opportunity to do so. It also disentangles the twisted logic in the U.S. assertion that it's been in compliance all along. Both Japan and the European Communities (EC) as third parties echoed the review panel with strong submissions in support of the tiny island nation. Will mounting pressure from the international community re-open the U.S. gambling market to foreign service providers? After this report, an optimistic maybe. More on the compliance report and the betting dispute at our Carribean Forum.

 

March 17, 2007

How reliable is the proposal to repeal October's Internet gambling ban announced recently by a self-described 'left-handed gay Jew'? Very, especially since he's chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Find out more about Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, a Harvard law grad who supports medical marijuana, and the bill that could re-open the U.S. I-gambling market at our U.S. forum.

 

March 3, 2007

Our interest in Lord Crossharbour and his spouse (referred to recently in Vanity Fair as Lord and very Crossharbour) was the result of an inquiry we began several years ago to find out how easy or difficult it might be for the U.S. to prosecute foreign Internet gambling operators and, in the (then!) remote possibility such an event were to occur, what charges might be preferred. What we found was a disturbingly smooth path made even easier first, by the dizzying array of treaties and statutes enacted worldwide post 9/11 to combat terrorism, and second, by an unprecedented expansion of wire fraud that overturned hundreds of years of common law. Today the charge is so common, no U.S. prosecution seems complete without it. Don't miss our four-part series tracking the evolution of the long arm of U.S. wire fraud.

 

February 24, 2007

While we're waiting for the WTO compliance report on U.S. I-gaming prohibitions expected in March, we thought we'd check in with our socially enlightened neighbors in Scandinavia, who are again at the forefront of Internet gambling studies. Norway is updating a 2002 study to include the Internet and its impact on the gambling habits of Norwegians, who bet at least NOK 4 billion in 2005, a figure that has roughly doubled since 2003. What's prompting the study, we wonder? Why now? Is Norway planning to regulate the online industry as Britain has and as Sweden seems to be in the process of doing after a recent study in that country challenging protectionism in the gambling sector? More on both initiatives at our European Union forum.

 

February 17, 2007

For years, we have followed wildly spriralling electronic information trails that have so far failed to establish any link between Internet gambling and terrorism. It's a different story when it comes to brick and mortar casinos, it seems. IBM software genius Jeff Jonas has found a way to bridge the gap between surveillance info and casino crime that's made Sin City an international leader in security. The best news is, you couldn't ask for a better argument in favor of a fully legal, fully regulated U.S. Internet gambling industry. More on the story at our U.S. forum.

 

February 10, 2007

The judge seems as baffled as we are by BetOnSports' expensive decision to give trial in St. Louis a miss. In our search to understand the defendants' apparently bizarre legal strategy, we came across a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court in which petitioners are claiming the U.S. breached their rights as foreign nationals. If they succeed, the case could radically alter the course of U.S. prosecutions of foreign nationals - maybe even the one involving BOS. Learn more about this unexpected test case plus a few tips from a human rights organization on trials in absentia at our European Union forum.

 

February 3, 2007

Is Europe preparing to challenge U.S. Internet gambling restrictions similar to Antigua's Cross-Border Betting Dispute at the WTO? It sure looks that way from comments made this week by two EU commissioners, Charlie McCreevey and Peter Mandelson, concerning U.S. protectionism in the gambling sector. We also note the European Parliament's decision in October to re-open talks on gambling despite an earlier decision to exclude it from the Service Directive. Coincidence or have industry leaders been meeting secretly with trade officials to press their case? Find more on this story, including the official link on how to petition the EU to protect Internet gambling, at our EU forum.

 

January 27, 2007

U.S. prosecution of two Canadian Neteller founders over Internet gambling has raised hackles worldwide but most notably among The Globe and Mail's ultra-conservative editorial board. A Jan. 19th editorial called it "a crusade that seems to involve arresting law-abiding citizens of other countries and threatening them with long prison terms." Read an excerpt at our Caribbean Forum, including links to the new WTO Discussion Forum, where PokerPulse leads the debate on Internet gambling. Post your views today.

 

January 20, 2007

Two former Neteller directors were detained by U.S. authorities this week over charges related to the promotion of Internet gambling believed, at least by New York District Attorney Michael Garcia, to have been illegal in 2004 when the company went public. According to a Neteller press release, the Isle of Man company had no communication with U.S. Justice officials regarding the legality of its business within the U.S. Coincidentally, Neteller is regulated by the Financial Services Authority in Britain, a key player in the European Communities, which is likely to be a vocal Antigua supporter in the WTO's upcoming review of U.S. gambling prohibitions. More on the story, including the latest U.S. money laundering threat assessment, at our Canadian forum.

 

January 13, 2007

The biggest surprise in this week's headlines was not the BetonSports motion to dismiss the company's indictment but rather that it's taken the industry this long to use Antigua's double victory at the WTO as a defence against U.S. Internet gambling prohibitions. More on this latest legal development, including links to the attorneys who are leading the charge, at our European Union forum.

 

January 6, 2007

The biggest surprise in this week's headlines was not the BetonSports motion to dismiss the company's indictment but rather that it's taken the industry this long to use Antigua's double victory at the WTO as a defence against U.S. Internet gambling prohibitions. More on this latest legal development, including links to the attorneys who are leading the charge, at our European Union forum.

 

December 31, 2006

Canada's two most famous window-washers, the LeBlanc brothers, made their biggest score ever when they took their winnings to Tax Court recently. Chief Justice Don Bowman ruled Dec. 21/06 that their multi-million-dollar winnings from Ontario sports lotteries are tax free. The court found that betting on sports lotteries is just too risky to be considered a business. Find out why at our You Asked Us forum.

 

December 24, 2006

Antigua was dealt another blow this week in the form of a still one more delay at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where it's challenging U.S. protectionism in the gambling sector. Industry watchers now have to wait until the end of March for the compliance review panel's report. More on the story here. Good thing Bodog owner, Canadian billionaire Calvin Ayre, announced last week that he's moving his company to Antigua with plans to film a feature-length movie there. It was a welcome boost for the tiny tropical island nation forced to watch helplessly as its fledgling gambling industry washed away in the tide of recent U.S. anti-I-gaming measures. More on Bodog's move here.

 

December 16, 2006

Calvin Ayre, Bodog's Canadian billionaire owner, is moving his company to Antigua and even plans to film a feature-length movie there. Quite a boost for the tiny tropical island nation, which has stood by watching helplessly as its fledgling Internet gambling industry began to wash away in a storm of U.S. prohibitions that resulted in the ironically titled SAFE Port bill this fall. Antigua and industry watchers await word from a WTO compliance review panel expected to rule in early February on U.S. protectionism in the gambling sector. But submissions from third parties, including the EC, Japan and China, may be available online as early as Dec. 22. More on the story here.
 
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