PokerPulse Blogs -- UIGEA Carve Out for poker/sports betting?

LegalAtPokerPulse comments on the notion of a poker/sports betting carve-out in the UIGEA. Could it happen?

The question put to the LegalAtPokerPulse Editor:

I'd also be interested in your opinion of comments regarding a poker exemption from the UIGEA (something other than the ppa's prepared statements) and how you feel California should go about introducing online poker- should they start it up on their own? hire a proven company? pros and cons etc. Plus do you think these opt outs for sports betting in the various bills helps the poker cause or would you rather they just legalize gambling?

Editor's response on the notion of poker/sports betting carve-outs:

Whether a prohibited act is a game of skill or chance is immaterial. The only question, in my view, is whether the act is prohibited under the federal U.S. Wire Act. As we've seen from the recent Party Poker 'settlement,' (more here for annotated particulars), the relevant statute does not distinguish conduct in the ways you suggest. If the U.S. says it's prohibited gambling - unlike recent gambles in the derivatives market, say -  the Wire Act seems to be the U.S. Attorney's weapon of choice. And why not? It works. Thanks to the Wire Act, Anurag Dikshit will 'donate' to the U.S. Treasury a total of $300 million, which will no doubt go toward bailing out more of Wall Street's non-criminals. So at the end of the day, unless Prohibition 2.0 statutory reform addresses the definition of prohibited conduct in the Wire Act, operators worldwide who accept U.S. bets will be vulnerable to U.S. prosecution and the disgorgement of what the U.S. considers proceeds of crime. As we've seen from a variety of these cases, the U.S. is not at all fussy about where the operation originates or the law pursuant to the industry in that country, nor indeed where the operator's assets are held. More on the increasing appetite of the U.S. for law enforcement beyond its borders here.  Yes, and let's not forget about the infamous U.S. Ker-Frisbie rule in which a U.S. court need not concern itself with how a foreign national may have 'made his way' to court. As Omar of The Wire series might have put it, it's all good.
Should it matter whether gambling is a game of skill or chance?
It certainly didn't to the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel adjudicating Antigua's dispute with the U.S. over Prohibition 2.0. The panel's concern in that case was whether the U.S. was doing to others as it would have others do unto it and certainly as it was doing unto itself. The answer there was no. That's why Antigua won. Unfortunately, what Pokerpulse refers to colloquially as the GATS-slash settlements - trade concessions in services negotiated as compensation when the U.S. imperially slashed gambling from that agreement - pretty much closed the file on challenges like Antigua's. Whether a certain form of gambling involves a game of skill or chance will do nothing to prompt a repeal of Prohibition 2.0, in my view. What might be effective, though, is a post-Antigua international grudge match of sorts, and there appears to be one in the works. European operators, apparently, find private 'settlements' such as Dikshit's, extracted by the U.S. post-GATS-slash and, some would argue, in retaliation to the GATS-slash settlements, well, excessive. I understand the UK's Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has the ear of EU trade officials and has armed its membership with some pretty big international trade law guns in Brussels to press its suit. More at our forum. This threat coupled with the sudden, urgent need by the U.S. for new business opportunities, is more likely, in my view, to motivate U.S. legislative reform. That and President Obama's admission that like a number of his predecessors he, too, enjoys a game of poker.  
On Harvard, Dershowitz and the case for poker as a valuable learning tool:
Yes, it's certainly compelling when the intelligentsia from one of America's most celebrated law schools sets up a society within those hallowed halls to highlight poker's role in teaching patience, strategy and money management, and in improving cognitive skills (more here). Pokerpulse was so impressed that we include at our  Gambler's Study Guide - Best Bets for Success an excerpt of The Economist's excellent story of Dec. 22/07 about the value of poker as a learning tool. As you can see from the link, there is plenty of support for the idea. How differently might the housing bubble have evolved if derivatives traders had been highly-skilled, experienced poker players, one wonders?






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