Renewed calls for a federal online gambling ban in the United States have found their way to the Department of Justice courtesy of Senators Lindsey Graham (pictured) and Diane Feinstein.
In a November 21st letter sent to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the two high profile lawmakers made a number of false claims in support of online gambling prohibition that were debunked Monday by iGaming legislative analyst Steve Ruddock via Online Poker Report.
The congressional petition contained references to recent Pennsylvania online gambling legislation that was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 30th, as well as an October 13th iGaming shared liquidity agreement between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
“Pennsylvania has recently enacted legislation authorizing internet gambling, and other states are lined up to follow suit,” stated Graham and Feinstein via their communication with the Department of Justice. “Online casinos are already operating across state lines pursuant to compacts, and states are contemplating opening up their casinos to foreign markets. We fear that unless [the] DOJ promptly revisits its 2011 opinion, our prediction that online casinos could sweep across our country could come to pass.”
The Online Poker Industry Shift Since 2013
While the Sheldon Adelson backed movement for a federal online gambling ban in the U.S. is nothing new, the positioning of the industry has evolved since the first statewide regulated online poker site became a reality on April 30th, 2013.
Although a massive amount of legwork has been put in by legal online poker proponents such as Poker Players Alliance Vice President Rich Muny, lobbying efforts (funded largely by the world’s largest poker site, PokerStars) have progressed slowly while facing harsh criticism a year ago when both Stars and the PPA abruptly removed their support for regulated online poker in California.
Once a shining beacon in the iGaming industry that enjoyed enormous goodwill support from its customers, the PokerStars brand is now viewed by a large portion of the community as little more than a monopolistic entity hell-bent on predatory behavior that maliciously devalues the interests of its business partners and competitors alike.
Big name poker personalities Doug Polk, Joey Ingram, and former sponsored pro Isaac Haxton have been among the most vocal critics of PokerStars parent company The Stars Group (formerly known as Amaya), dismissing the company’s top decision-makers as little more than glorified scam artists after it failed to make good on marketed payout commitments (totaling eight figures USD) to its highest-volume players in late 2015.
Add to that an ongoing criminal insider trading case against former CEO David Baazov, momentum to block the world’s largest poker site from entering California, a recent admission by mega-affiliate iBus Media CEO Jon Squires that PokerNews is majority-owned by The Stars Group (following years of denial to its own reporters whose professional interests were negatively affected), along with TSG business partner Alex Dreyfus’ dismal reputation within the poker community — and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to PokerStars representing any facet of modern-day communication within the industry it once dominated.
Mainstream media appearances by the company’s corporate mouthpieces — even in support of regulated U.S. online poker — would likely be ridiculed in a similar fashion that federal politicians’ efforts to restrict states’ rights are when they lash out against regulated online gambling.
Will Federal Online Gambling Ban Rhetoric Galvanize Poker Media?
Despite the contradictory predicament many poker media columnists currently find themselves in, the possibility remains for a galvanized movement in opposition of a federal online gambling ban in the U.S.
Taking a page from the genuine communication efforts high profile players have put forth in 2017 to spread awareness, media personalities are mobilizing their own creative initiatives to disrupt the status-quo of how online poker and gambling in general are marketed to players of all skill levels across the country.
— Jamie Kerstetter (@JamieKerstetter) November 28, 2017
PokerNews’ own media personalities Sarah Herring (Producer and Presenter) and Chad Holloway (Mid-States Poker Tour Media Director) have both surpassed 10,000 followers on Twitter in 2017 via bonafide industry promotion, while their iBus Media overseer Squires remains close to 500 and spends most of his social media currency on spreading polarizing tidbits that do nothing to benefit online gambling.
If a competent option to PokerStars asserts itself within the U.S. in 2018, a critical mass of media representatives could latch-on to the momentum and swiftly overtake The Stars Group’s authority alongside a competing operator.
And while that might go against executives’ eel-like grip on talent-burying, it just might set up a scenario in which gamblers across the nation realize they possess a viable alternative to having their intelligence insulted by conglomerate narratives.
The time is ripe for innovation in the fight to prevent a federal online gambling ban in the United States.
Author’s Note: The views expressed in this article belong solely to the columnist and do not necessary reflect the opinions of PartTimePoker, operators, players, or members of the poker media.
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