Joined: 18 Aug 2004
|Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:06 pm Post subject: Is it legal to stake U.S. residents playing poker online?
|Is it legal to stake U.S. residents playing poker online?
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2005 8:25 AM
Subject: Staking Online Players in the U.S.
Is it legal to "stake" or back players residing in the U.S. that are playing online poker?
Thanks for writing. To answer your question, start with an excerpt from the article, Advertising Liability in the Online Gambling Industry by Lawrence Walters, an attorney with Weston, Garrou, De Witt & Walters:
|...The offense of “aiding and abetting” is defined under Title 18 U.S.C. § 2, which provides in pertinent part: “a) whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.” That offense occurs when a defendant willfully associates himself with the criminal venture and willfully participates in it as something he wished to bring about. In order to be responsible for aiding and abetting, the accused individual must have had general awareness that his role was part of overall improper/illegal activity, and must have knowingly and substantially assisted violating a law. Depending on the specific subsection of the federal aiding and abetting statute utilized by a prosecutor in a criminal case, the government would either be required to prove that another person committed a crime and that the defendant assisted in the commission of such offense or that the defendant willfully caused another person to commit an act which would have been a crime had the defendant committed it himself. In the latter circumstance, the government need not prove that someone else committed any crime.
In order for the government to obtain a conviction for aiding and abetting, it must therefore prove that the defendant aided or abetted another in violating some substantive criminal offense. In other words, aiding and abetting does not occur in a vacuum, but only in relation to some other criminal law violation. Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Malcolm claims that both state and federal laws prohibit online gambling in the United States. However, no specific federal statue is listed as authority for such contention. The most commonly cited basis for claiming that online gambling is illegal in the United States is the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084(b). This law prohibits the transmission of bets in interstate or foreign commerce, with certain exceptions, safe harbors and limitations...(Footnotes omitted)
While this article sets out the issues for advertisers of Internet gambling sites, the aiding and betting material may also be applicable on the facts you outline. See also several other articles on e-gaming by Mr. Walters at his excellent Publications link, especially Online Casino Gambling, A Safe Bet or Risky Business? Full contact information is provided at the site if you wish to pursue your inquiry more fully.
The Wire Act is one of three federal statutes the World Trade Organization (WTO) considered in the recent Internet gambling case between Antigua and the U.S. regarding U.S. trade obligations. We're still combing the appeal decision, which both sides confusingly claim as a victory. It's now a matter for the dispute settlement body to make recommendations based on the appeal. How specific they'll be and what the U.S. will do in terms of compliance is uncertain. In other words, business as usual. We will be posting some analysis of the appeal at this forum. Please check back for updates. (Note: It's up. Click here for more on Antigua's victory and what's next). In the meantime, the excellent Free Jay Cohen site, another excellent source U.S. e-gaming law, was up and running with analysis about five minutes after the decision was released.
We are also following a conference in Washington, D.C. April 15-16 on the effect of international trade decisions on the U.S. internally. The conference is to be attended by a number of state attorneys general. Scroll down at our U.S. forum for more.
Hope this helps.
|Note: We welcome visitors' questions as well as replies from lawyers, which we will happily publish at this forum. Those visitors who are considering entry into the business of Internet gambling are well advised to seek legal counsel before proceeding. To assist our visitors in acquiring appropriate expertise, we would be pleased to hear from practitioners seeking Internet gaming clients. Happily, a quick trawl at Google Feb. 23/05 indicates that experts in this area are not in short supply. View our search results: here. |