Category Archives: Federal News

IRS Issues new Federal Tax Requirements for Fantasy Sports impacting FanDuel and DraftKings beyond the economics of the tax revenue

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing issues with one of the newest gambling fads, daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting.  After many years of legislators realizing how exactly DFS is actually gambling, many took efforts to ban them.  Then, the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, opening the door for states to legalize DFS as they saw fit. Now, the IRS has published its guidelines for the tax liability companies like FanDuel and Draftkings face as a result of their gambling business.  Yahoo Finance reports:

he IRS, in a July 23 internal memo made public on Aug. 7, issued new guidance that amounts to a major shot across the bow at daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators DraftKings and FanDuel.

The memo, which does not name those companies, concludes that DFS contest entry fees count as wagers, and thus fall under the existing excise tax on sports betting. The tax is 0.25% of the amount of a wager, or for DFS companies, a contest entry fee. In 2018, as an example, the DFS industry brought in $3.2 billion in fees  (that’s “handle,” not revenue), which would have meant $8 million in IRS excise taxes—significant for an industry that only generated $335 million in revenue that year.

The implications of such regulation actually extend beyond the simple tax revenue that companies owe.  The money owed will add up sure, but it’s the fact that paying the fees means the industry is stipulating that they are, in fact, gambling operations.  Even though it’s rather clear they are, they have long fought this distinction.  Their worry here is that acknowledgement in the tax code to being a gambling business will open them up to other gambling regulations that they would rather avoid clearly.  Yahoo Finance explains:

The companies will surely fight the IRS decision in court, a scenario that will reunite the two business rivals that worked together through 2015 and 2016 as they fought various state attorneys general to argue that their contests are “games of skill” rather than chance.

The companies won’t challenge the IRS merely because they want to avoid paying the taxes, but also because they have to challenge it on a reputation basis: agreeing to pay the taxes could amount to a concession that they do accept unauthorized wagers, which could open up the companies to additional legal penalties.

Back in 2015, as ESPN reported a former assistant U.S. attorney sent the IRS a letter about his belief that DFS companies “are clearly engaged in betting or wagering for purposes of the wagering excise tax.” If the IRS prevails, it would cost the two companies tens of millions of dollars—especially if a tax court decides the decision applies retroactively.

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As states like Florida end Greyhound Racing, a new Federal Bill has been filed

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing situation in Florida regarding greyhound racing and the most recent ban of live races by Florida voters.  Several states have made similar efforts to end an industry that many view as problematic in the area of animal treatment and rights and unnecessary as a gambling device.  Calls have come for a more uniform, federal solution, and the first step in such a journey is now underway.  As an online source reports:

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., introduced House Resolution 7826 on July 29. The bill, also called the Greyhound Protection Act, would amend the Wire Act to prohibit gambling on commercial greyhound races. The bill would also prohibit gambling on open-field coursing where greyhounds and sighthounds are judged on their ability to chase down hares.

“Greyhound racing is cruel and must end,” Cardenas said in a statement. “My bill allows for a sensible wind-down of an already-declining industry that will ultimately outlaw greyhound racing. As a longtime animal welfare advocate, I am committed to always speaking up for the voiceless.”

U.S. Rep. Carenas takes the position that the industry is on its way out naturally, so he wants to establish a method for phasing the industry out in a way that is not only advantageous for the animals, but those in the industry as well.  The online source continues:

“Greyhound racing will soon end in the United States, and this bill allows for a managed phase-out of the activity to enable planning to provide homes for the dogs and certainty for the owners, workers, and breeders in the industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Greyhound racing is dying, and it’s best to manage the shutdown of the industry to allow for a soft landing for the people and the animals involved.”

GREY2K noted that greyhound racing is quickly losing the race for relevance in the 21st century. Gulf Greyhound Park, the last greyhound track in Texas, shut down last month. The Birmingham Race Course, Alabama’s last remaining track, closed in April. Southland Casino Racing in Arkansas, a Delaware North-owned property, announced last October that greyhound racing would be phased out by 2022.

In 2018, an amendment to the Florida Constitution was passed ending greyhound racing by the end of 2019, shutting down 11 racetracks in the state. The amendment was notable because Florida was the first state to legalize greyhound racing in 1931. 

“Momentum is building for a national phase out of greyhound racing,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K. “Since the end of the legislative session dog racing has ended in two more states, and West Virginia will soon be the last state to sanction the activity. According to state records, more than 9,000 greyhound injuries have been reported at Mardi Gras and Wheeling since 2008, including 3,254 dogs that suffered broken bones and 420 greyhounds that died. Greyhounds also  endure lives of confinement, and some dogs are trained by being given small animals to tear apart.”

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UPDATE: Court Strikes Down DOJ’s Wire Act Ruling – Appeal Likely to Follow

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Department of Justice’s Wire Act interpretation as it relates to online gambling. Prior to the Obama Administration, the Wire Act was always interpreted to apply to all online gambling. During the Obama Administration, the DOJ decided the wire act only applied to sports betting, thereby legalizing all other forms of online gambling. Its been argued that their decision wasn’t grounded in the plain language and clear intent of Congress when the act was passed in the 1960’s. Never the less, it opened the floodgates to online gambling. Recently, the DOJ produced a memorandum that said they planned to reinterpret the wire act to apply to all gambling as it was for so many years prior. Naturally many groups opposed the ruling and the DOJ delayed its enforcement to allow time for the court process to take place. Now, the first ruling has been made and unsurprisingly, it upholds the Obama Administrations ruling. An online source reports:

In a memo dated June 12, 2019, US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen instructed all US attorneys to hold off on implementing the Wire Act opinion until the end of the calendar year. The last date given had been June 14, 2019, but the decision by the US District Court last week makes any enforcement of that Wire Act opinion illegal as it pertains to any forms of gambling other than sports betting.

[E]veryone will wait to see if the DOJ decides to appeal that decision or let it stand. It is unlikely that the DOJ will not appeal, as even Judge Barbadoro fully expected the case to head to the US Supreme Court, as noted during the oral arguments phase.

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New Jersey Plans to Sue the DOJ over Online Gambling Ruling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of the DOJ’s handling of the Wire Act as it pertains to gambling over both the Obama and Trump Administration. Most recently, the DOJ announced they had gone back to the long standing interpretation of the wire act that makes all forms of online gambling, not just sports gambling as the Obama Administration claimed, are illegal. This has understandably prompted a reaction from those that have decided to promote gambling in the online space. One of the more vocal states in regard to sports and online gambling has been New Jersey and they plan to sue the DOJ if they don’t reverse their stance. An online source reports:

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney has asked the Department of Justice to rescind its new opinion on the Wire Act. And if the DOJ does not, Sweeney has indicated NJ will go to court.

Sweeney’s letter to Rosenstein followed up on his statement days after the OLC opinion was made public in which he called on Lesniak, an attorney who served in the New Jersey legislature for 40 years, to come out of retirement to help protect the online gambling and sports betting industries that he helped bring to the state.

Lesniak then wrote a letter to Sweeney outlining how New Jersey could fight the opinion, and Sweeney used some of that language verbatim in his letter to the deputy attorney general.

Lesniak, who reactivated his license to practice law in the state of New Jersey on Monday, tells Online Poker Report that he plans to wait 30 days for new *US Attorney General Bob Barr* to get up to speed on the issue before filing the complaint requested by Sweeney.

The odds seem slim that the DOJ will resend their ruling. They aren’t taking a radical stance and they are simply going back to the clear intent of Congress that stood for so many years before the Obama Administration opened the flood gates of gambling by reversing the original intent. They have also been hinting at his position change for a while, so it truly seems unlikely that they would reverse their position based on New Jersey’s position. Time will tell if they follow through, but it seems likely that they will file a motion in court. 

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Military Personnel to be Screened for Problem Gambling under new Trump Directive

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the concerns of gambling in the military. The Department of Defense actually operates gambling facilities where service personnel gamble on slot machines. A few years ago Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushed an amendment to study the issues of problem gambling saying, “If the military is going to operate gambling facilities that bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, it also needs to ensure there is adequate prevention, treatment, and financial counseling available for service members struggling with gambling addictions.” She explained that over 36,000 service members fit the definition of problem gamblers. Now the Trump Administration has passed an initiative to screen for problem gambling during service member’s medical examinations. An online source explains: 

Members of America’s armed forces will now have to undergo screening for gambling addiction thanks to a new provision contained within the *National Defence Authorisation Act* that was signed into law by *President Trump* this week.

Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report 115-874 requires the Department of Defence (DoD) to incorporate medical screening questions specific to gambling disorder in the next annual periodic health assessment conducted by the Department as well as in the Health Related Behaviours Surveys of Active-Duty and reserve component service members.

NCPG executive director *Keith Whyte* said: “Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians. Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behaviour.”

He added: “NCPG strongly believes military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, responsible gaming and recovery services. With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families.

 

 

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New Sports Betting Bill Introduced in America

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing efforts to see sports gambling expanded in the U.S. The most recent string of events has been the New Jersey legislators and Governor fighting an ongoing battle to bring sports gambling to their state. Federal Law basically prevents sports betting with the exception of a few locations that were grandfathered, namely Las Vegas. All attempts to subvert the law by New Jersey have failed, so now their approach is to move beyond individual state efforts by looking to a Federal solutions. As the discussions of sports betting continues to grow among the major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MLB, New Jersey believes they are in a better position for a broad sweeping Federal gambling expansion effort. An online source explains:

“With casinos in Atlantic City closing at an alarming rate and gambling revenue in decline for a number of years New Jersey Representatives Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone have introduced new legislation to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and eventually across the nation.

Pallone’s proposed legislation would exempt the state from the federal prohibition on sports betting. LoBiondo’s law would introduce a four-year opportunity window which would allow every US state to introduce legislation for professional and amateur sports betting.”

Time will tell if these new efforts prove fruitful, but the fact that the major sports leagues are increasing their level of dialog on the subject, is not a good sign for those hoping to limit the impact of gambling in their jurisdictions.

 

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Florida Gov. Scott urges Congress to oppose online gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing federal and state battles regarding online gambling.  Each year it seems someone in Congress brings forth new online gambling legislation.  So far, none have been successfully passed, but an Obama Administration ruling on the federal Wire Act has opened the door for all kinds of online gambling legislation and discussion.  Earlier this year, Casino Watch Focus reported that the FBI warned of the dangers of money laundering, cheating and fraud.  This year is no different and new legislation and discussions are being advanced.  Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined the dialog and penned a letter to Congress urging them to oppose online gambling and uphold the traditional interpretation of the Wire Act.  The Miami Herald reports:

In a letter to congressional leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the governor urged Congress to clarify that the federal Wire Act bars online state lottery sales and reverse a Department of Justice ruling last year that opened the door to internet gambling.

“Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and be piped into our dens, our living rooms, our workplaces, and even our kids’ bedrooms and dorm rooms is a major decision,’’ the governor wrote in the three-page letter. “We must carefully examine the short and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.”

He urged Congress to “step in now and call a ‘time-out’ by restoring the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act.”

The driving organization behind Gov. Scott and other GOP governors is the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  They have echoed the recent FBI statements and believe it poses a very real and serious threat to families. The Miami Herald continues:

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling warns that if these efforts are allowed, there will be little to no control over who is exposed to gambling. Children and gambling addicts could have unlimited access to games as they play in the comfort of their homes on lap tops and tablets, the group warns, and organized crime and international terrorists could use the enterprises to hide capital and launder money.

“We appreciate you consideration of our views,’’ Scott wrote, “and look forward ot working with you on developing a sensible policy that protects Americans and preserves the traditional role of the states in controlling gambling within their borders.”

A complete version of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s letter is available courtesy of the Miami Herald HERE. For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Federal Online Poker Bill Introduced

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts to legalize online gambling.  Most recently, Rep Peter King introduced a bill to allow a broad range of online gambling.  Other legislators such as Sen. Harry Reid commented that the bill would not likely move through the process and that it undermined poker only efforts.  Now, it appears that a poker only bill is being introduced.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

A Texas congressman and longtime Internet poker advocate introduced legislation Thursday that would allow states and Indian tribes to legalize the activity without fear of federal intervention.

The bill, titled the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, marks the second time Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has tried to push federal Internet poker legislation through Congress. His 2012 attempt stalled.

In interviews after King’s bill surfaced, Barton said his belief was that a poker-only bill had a better chance of passing Congress, rather than full-blown casino wagering.

Barton’s bill would set up a federal system for regulating only online poker. Individual states could opt out of the system, if they wish.

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After Failed Federal Attempts, Online Poker Efforts to Shift from National to State Platforms

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the numerous attempts to legalize online poker, including a recent report explaining that Senator Harry Reid’s latest, yearly-attempt to legalize online poker at the national level, had failed again.  After so many failed attempts at the federal level, it looks like the new goal of the online poker lobbyists will be to focus on passing State legislations. An online source explains:

Ever since the movement for legalized online poker grew out of the threat from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act six years ago, the poker lobby’s focus has been to obtain regulation at the federal level. This focus will change in 2013 as the future of online poker in the U.S. moves to a state-by-state basis.

The proposal last year from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and now former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) would have regulated Internet poker while prohibiting other forms of online gambling to get support from liberals and conservatives. This proposal was the best chance for legislation at the federal level. Reid’s office claims there might still be an opportunity to pass the bill this year, but passage will be difficult without Kyl in office to deliver Republican support. Poker lobbyists aren’t going to completely abandon Capitol Hill, but it’s become clear that their focus is better placed elsewhere.

For those looking to protect families from the dangers of easy access and unsecured online gambling, it would be wise to be wary of local lobbyist efforts, as they have indicated a great deal of money and resources will be spent to win on a these smaller battlegrounds.  The online source continues:

With the PPA’s focus moving to the states, expect to see more grassroots campaigns at the state level in 2013. “We certainly could mimic some of the things we’ve done at the federal level in terms of fly-ins, paid advertisements, letters to the editor, op-eds and media placements in a variety of papers throughout the states from a poker players perspective,” Pappas said. “There are a number of ways to ramp up the grassroots and activity, and we’re considering all of those.”

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New Federal Online Poker Bill Expected to be Filed and Raise Constitutional Concerns

Casino Watch Focus reported many times on the failed attempts of the federal legislature to pass a bill to remove UIGEA and fully allow online gambling at the federal level.  Most attempts have been lead by Senator Harry Reid. A new bill is once again being introduced by Sen. Reid and Les Bernal of Stop Predatory gambling provides a summary of the bill: 

A draft of the online poker bill that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) plan to introduce was released this week. The bill, known as the “Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012” would legalize online poker at the federal level, a step that became possible last December when the U.S. Department of Justice released an opinion stating that the Wire Act does not apply to online poker.

The bill provides an opt-in structure, in which states have to affirmatively choose to participate in the online poker program. A state would be considered to have opted in if it has passed a law legalizing online poker. Thus far, only Nevada and Delaware have passed such laws. An Indian tribe is considered to have opted in if a designated authority of the tribe submits written notice to the Secretary of Commerce saying so. Money could only be accepted from players located in those states or tribal lands at the time they are playing.

No game other than poker would be allowed under the bill, even if it is licensed by the state. A state could still legalize other games under their own laws, but this law would not allow them to operate those games interstate. The bill has a carve-out that allows interstate bets on horse racing to continue to operate legally, as well as an exception to allow lotteries to sell tickets online.

Other portions of the bill seek to establish a criteria to determine how licenses are issued and tax issues are handled.  The Las Vegas Review Journal explains how parts of the bill could violate due process:

A bill to legalize online poker that is being written in Congress and that Nevada senators are trying to pass by the end of the year could be challenged in court and found unconstitutional, according to a legal analysis by a former top government attorney.

The bill would set up a framework to license and regulate Internet poker companies, and to nourish a U.S.-based online poker industry. But former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement said he found flaws in segments of the bill that seek to punish overseas providers that ran games in the United States and continued to take bets from U.S. players even after Congress passed online restrictions in 2006.

The so-called “penalty box” provisions would prohibit those companies from applying for an online poker license for five years, and from selling their trademarks or software to others seeking a license.

Clement said the bill being formed by Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., “raises serious due process concerns.”

He said it would deprive the providers of “significant property interest,” and could be considered an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” because it effectively singles out a group for punishment without adequate protections for their rights.

This bill could be its own worst enemy as it closes off several forms of online gambling in order to establish a legal framework for poker.  Those party to gambling online outside of just poker will certainly object.  The Las Vegas Review outlines both the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures as groups who oppose due to restricting states opportunities to benefit financially. 

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Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Odds Not Worth Chasing

Casino Watch Focus has consistently educated the public on the risks of gambling.  Each year the number of those trapped in gambling’s web increases and the amount of money gambled continues to climb.  One online source points to out that Global Betting and Gaming Consultants resent finding’s show that world wide gambling reached $419 billion in 2011.  Even though most people probably think of casinos, the lottery actually accounts for the most gambling at 28%.  Lotteries popularity always climbs as the jackpots increase.  One of the largest multi-state lotteries, Mega Millions, has an estimated jackpot of $540 million.  These large jackpots create a frenzy of gamblers, some of whom have terrible gambling addictions and some who just play on these types of occasions.  But how good are your odds at winning?  The USA Today points out, the odds are definitely not worth the chase:

Social media users were buzzing about the jackpot on Facebook and Twitter, mostly about what they would do with the money, but also about the tiny possibility of winning the top prize. The odds? About 1 in 176 million.

“I’m reading an article about what to do after you hit the mega millions jackpot. Next article, how to housebreak your unicorn,” says @scottbhuff on Twitter. Some posters link to a someecards.com poster that shows a man consoling a woman, and include this phrase: “Plenty of people don’t win the lottery the first few thousand times they play.”

To put your chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot into perspective, you are:

About 176 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime.

About 3.76 times more likely to be killed by fireworks this year.

Almost 9 times more likely to die from a TV falling on your head this year.

Considering the article goes on to explain that people are spending $50 to $100 at time, its easy to see how people will use large jackpots as a time to loose control and spend beyond their means chasing the impossible.

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Zynga Looks to Use Facebook and Social Media Gaming to Incorporate Online Gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that  Facebook was looking into online gambling in markets where online gambling is legal.  The tie into gambling stems from Facebook utilizing an online monetary system in the form of credits.  Those credits are usable in games or other various items from developers.  One of Facebook’s larger developers, Zynga, who also develops for various mobile platforms, has taken note of the possibilities of a recent Obama Administration ruling, that allows online gambling. An online source explains:

Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) Chief Executive Mark Pincus said Wednesday he sees “mind blowing” possibilities for weaving real-money gambling into social games pending regulatory changes in the U.S., and suggested the company may partner with a traditional casino company before the end of this year.

“We’re definitely talking to all of the players that you would suspect,” Pincus said, adding, “We have incredible respect and admiration for brands and groups like the Wynn… I would expect that you’ll see a lot of these players kind of figure out their go-to-market partnerships for sure before the end of this year.”

Pincus noted that real money gaming would be a natural fit for Zynga, which already draws tens of millions of players to its Zynga Poker game.  Unlike current games such as Zynga Poker, real money gambling games would involve more than just virtual currency that cannot be converted into cash.

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Obama Administration Ruling Allows Online Gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that several states have been attempting to legalize online gambling in their own jurisdiction.  Even though many states were attempting to legalize such intrastate gambling, it was generally understood that a long legal battle would develop.  The current online gambling landscape is largely governed by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UGEIA).  It regulates interstate and intrastate gambling at the financial level.  Given the almost impossible nature of regulating the internet, UGEIA looked to enforce the issue by going after the financial institutions where the gambling money would trade hands.

The basis for UGEIA is the 1961 Wire Act, which prohibits gambling over telecommunications systems.  This act effectively prohibited almost all online gambling, on both an inter and intrastate level.  Now, The Christian Science Monitor is explaining that a common Justice Department ruling on the Wire Act has been reversed by the Obama Administration, allowing for at least intrastate gambling and possibly even gambling between states:

Until now, the Justice Department had held that the Wire Act makes even intrastate online gambling illegal. Its new interpretation, written by Justice Department attorneys in response to requests for clarification from New York and Illinois, concluded that the law instead specifically outlaws such wagering on sports, not nonsports gambling within states or even across state borders.

“The ordinary meaning of the phrase ‘sporting event or contest’ does not encompass lotteries,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz. “Accordingly, we conclude that the proposed lotteries are not within the prohibitions of the Wire Act.”

“The United States Department of Justice has given the online gaming community a big, big present,” writes I. Nelson Rose, a Whittier Law School professor who blogs at gamblingandthelaw.com. “My bet is that … Congress will continue to do nothing, while Internet gambling explodes across the nation, made legal under state laws.”

While the Justice Department ruling does not specifically address interstate gambling, legal experts say it’s likely to be allowed, at least between states that specifically regulate online gambling.

There are a multitude of concerns with the actions of the Obama Administration’s new ruling.  In an Op-Ed piece by the Christian Science Monitor, they argue that such actions amount to a tax on the poor and that the regulation issues will be too severe to offer anything other than potential harms to children and families:

[B]ig doubts remain over whether states can indeed restrain such digital games of chance to residents while also keeping children from playing them. State lotteries, for examples, have a poor record of preventing retailers from selling tickets to minors.

And even if states can outsmart tech-savvy teens or out-of-state gamblers, once enough states jump into Internet gambling they will likely be able to work together and create a national scheme for such activity. That would violate the spirit if not the letter of a 2006 federal law banning such interstate activity.

Most of all, bringing Internet gambling to America would hurt the poor, who are most affected when people lose money in government-approved games of chance such as state lotteries or casinos – not to mention the way it would reinforce a belief that one’s future depends on “luck” instead of individual merit.

In effect, President Obama and his appointed Justice officials have bowed to political pressure from states that seek a new source of revenue in Internet gambling rather than taking the difficult decisions to raise taxes or cut spending.

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Washington DC to allow online poker in September

Casino Watch Focus reported  that several states were in a race to be the first to legalize online poker.  New Jersey was the first to pass a bill to legalize it, but then the Governor vetoed the bill.  California considered full online gambling, but as an online source reported, California decided to partner with  PlayTech to provide online gaming, but it will only allow people to play for free, not for actual money.  They are laying the foundation for a possible change in federal policy that has effectively made online gaming illegal. Washington D.C. joined the mix and passed a measure to allow online gambling back in April.  Now, a different online source, is now reporting that they plan to go live with their online poker bill in September, but there is a catch:

Washington, D.C. will begin allowing poker players to play with real cash online beginning in September.  There’s one catch.  They’ll have to be in Washington, D.C. to play.

The District of Columbia is in the midst of rolling out the first legalized online poker room in the US.  It will be overseen by the D.C. Lottery and is considered a precursor to other states such as California and Florida jumping into the fray.  Nevada’s Governor signed a bill into law allowing Web poker in his state but the law only kicks into effect when similar legislation is passed on the federal level.

Congress did not object to the District’s efforts during its 30-day review period of the law, though legality issues remain unclear especially in light of recent federal crackdowns. 

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Obama Administration expands Tribal Gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows for off-reservation casinos.  In January of 2008 the U.S. Dept of Interior denied a claim to build a casino 293 miles away from the reservation explaining the casino was too far to be of benefit to tribal members. Then, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) passed a rule that the casino must be within 25 miles of a reservation headquarters, but it did allow for a few exceptions.  Now, The Miami Herald is reporting that the Obama administration has removed the rule:

The Obama administration announced Tuesday it has rescinded a rule that blocked Indian tribes from building casinos far from their reservations, reviving hopes among local officials for casino gambling in the Catskills.

The change overturns the so-called commutability rule, created in 2008 by then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. According to the rule, a casino beyond reasonable commuting distance from a tribe’s reservation was damaging to life on the reservation because its residents would move to follow the new jobs.

This rule change could dramatically expand casino gambling.  In 2008 from January to July, 10 tribal casino applications were rejected alone. For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION