Skill Game Exemption Act For UIGEA Gains 20th Co-Sponsor

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Currently there are at least four bills in the House of Representatives that attempt to address the bad decision that congress made last year when it enacted the UIGEA.

Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida’s 19th District in June introduced bill H.R.2610 that would exempt ‘skill games’ from the UIGEA. Skill games mentioned are chess, backgammon, mahjong and poker. Yesterday, Rep. Robert E. Andrews [NJ-1] became the 20th congressman to endorse this bill.

Rep. Shelley Berkely in June also introduced a bill that would commission a study by the National Academy of Sciences to identify the proper response of the United States to the growth of Internet gambling, this bill is identified as H.R.2140. Yesterday, two additional members of congress added their names to the list of co-sponsors for this Bill, they are Rep. Robert E. Andrews [NJ-1], and Rep. Melvin L. Watt [NC-12], bringing the total co-sponsors to 68.

Rep. Jim McDermott introduced H.R. 2607, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to regulate Internet Gambling, this bill has 1 co-sponsor. It is designed to be a companion bill to H.R.2046

The bill that started all of this activity was presented by Barney Frank [MA-4], this bill is H.R.2046 and is co-sponsored by 44 congressman.

Of all these bills, H.R.2046 goes the farthest to overturn the UIGEA by allowing for regulation, enforcement, and licensing by the Federal Government, and includes safeguards to protect minors and problem gamblers.

None of these bills addresses the problems that the U.S. is facing concerning Internet gambling and the loss it suffered in the WTO.

Claims by the European Union alone could see the U.S. having to compensate them upwards of $100 million for not allowing this trade in service. The U.S., after losing it’s case and appeals in a badly fought battle against Antigua & Barbuda, decided to withdraw it’s commitment in this area, which has given all other member countries that are party to this Treaty the opportunity to file claim. The entire 27 member states of the EU, China, Japan, Costa Rica, Australia, Canada, India, and Mexico have filed claims for compensation.

The U.S. now finds itself in a lose-lose situation. The USTR violated the Rule of Law when it decided to withdraw this commitment and did not bring the issue to congress as they are mandated to do.

Congress is now in a position that they never should have been put in. Procedures in the U.S. dictate that when they are found to be in violation of trade agreements, those violations are to be brought to congress so that congress can find ways to come into compliance and avoid situations such as this.

Recent activity by the House Judiciary Committee has led to speculation that now, with arbitrary enforcement of vague laws by the Justice Department in this area, and the exclusion of input from congress, that some firm movement will be undertaken and a resolution is near at hand.

Although many consider gambling of any type to be immoral, the UIGEA does not make any form of gambling illegal. The only purpose it serves is to prevent Americans from transferring money to a foreign company for the purpose of gambling, while allowing them to do so domestically. This is the primary reason that the WTO found in favor of Antigua & Barbuda, citing that measures taken are protectionist.

December 6, 2007

Sheriff’s Office In Tampa, Florida Wants Money From Gambling Bust

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It has become almost a weekly occurrence that small illegal gambling operations are being busted up by authorities in the US. Convenience stores with a couple of gambling machines is a common target of these raids.

In Florida, a forfeiture lawsuit by a local sheriff’s office is giving one reason as to why so many of these busts are occurring. In the lawsuit, the sheriff’s office is trying to claim $15,115 that they confiscated in a gambling bust.

Five people were arrested when police went to arrest a wanted person and found that a game of cards was taking place. Bruce warren was the one wanted, but the four others playing cards and dice were also taken into custody.

During the bust, authorities seized $688 from Warren. One of the other suspects, Leslie Coleman, had $10.442 in his pocket. That was also seized. The bust happened back on January 26th, and now the sheriff’s office wants the money.

If they win the right to the money, the sheriff’s office could keep it for their own, and that may be the underlying factor for all of the recent busts around the country.

While most of the raids are planned in advance, there are some like the one in Florida that come from officers looking for a person. Whatever the situation, the raids are happening with more frequency.

It is difficult for law enforcement to keep up with current laws these days. Gambling is a grey area in many states and that leads to individual agencies interpreting the law in their own manner. Many of the arrested parties in these busts end up being cleared of the charges.

Sheriff Blames Organized Crime For Video Machine Payouts in Illinois

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Cook County recently saw a police sting sweep through and seize more than thirty two video gaming machines that were being used illegally.

It is not illegal for establishments to allow their customers to play the machines. It is illegal, however, for these establishment owners to be paying out winners when they win money.

$5,000 was seized in the recent sting as well as the machines. Local restaurants and bars were the targets for undercover cops over a three month investigation. The results were disturbing.

Many of the locations that were being investigated were paying out their customers in real money. Police caught on to the operation after a woman claimed her husband had lost $60,000 on these video machines.

Sheriff Tom Dart believes that until the organized crime in Cook County goes away, the machines will not either. He drew a direct correlation between the machines and organized crime.

He claims that to make an impact and keep the machines from being played illegally, other agencies other than his own will have to join in on the fight against organized crime.

Eleven people could possibly face misdemeanor charges as a result of the recent sting.

Illegal Video Poker Gambling Operation Busted in Pennsylvania

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Although paying out video poker machines is illegal in most states, bars and other establishments continue to engage in this criminal activity,

On Thursday, a variety store located in Bella Vista, Pennsylvania became the latest establishment to be raided by the police.

A Citizen complaint is what started the investigation into the store. The claim was that the store was paying out players who won money playing their video poker machines.

An undercover cop was sent into the store, which is located near the Italian Market in Bella Vista. The cop played one of four Dodge City poker machines and was paid out by the store attendant when a certain amount of credits were reached.

The store owner was not arrested, but the store was shut down after the bust. Letteria Lamacchia, who was the store clerk that paid the winning ticket, was arrested.

The FBI has been called in by local police to investigate whether organized crime was involved in the running of the illegal operation.

Senate To Give Limited Money From Stimulus To Casinos In Nevada

The House of Representatives has already approved the stimulus package that has been pushed by President Barack Obama. The Senate is getting close to passing the plan, but has made some changes to the original copy.

One of those changes involves an amendment that was offered up by Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma. There will now be a restriction on money for any casino or gaming establishment in the state of Nevada.

Majority leader Harry Reid voted against the amendment, but the other Senator from Nevada, John Ensign, voted in favor of the change. The amendment, which also allows for no money to be spent on golf courses, aquariums, zoos, or museums, passed by a 73-24 vote.

Coburn pointed out such projects as the new mob museum as a reason the amendment needed to be passed. He claimed that the money from the stimulus package should go to more high priority projects.

It is not as if Nevada casinos were going to receive any of the money anyway. The gaming lobbyists in the state had not requested and money from the stimulus package. The amendment served as more of a safeguard than an actual change in plans.

The economy in Nevada is highly reliant on the state’s casinos. In the past year revenue has decreased drastically at many of these casinos, and with the economy getting worse before it gets better, it is a dangerous time for the casinos and the state.

Senate In Iowa Considering Bill To Lower Gambling Treatment Funds

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Politicians are again working to make sure they contradict themselves. Lawmakers have argued for years that not enough treatment centers are available. They have used that fact to oppose Bills that would expand gambling.

Now, in Iowa, the state Senate is considering a Bill that would reduce the amount of spending on gambling treatment by the state. The Bill comes at a time when revenue from state casinos is at an all time high.

When asked why they are considering dropping the money spent almost in half, Senator Jack Hatch had this to say, “We thought it was too high”. He went on to claim that he felt treatment for problem gamblers could be done cheaper.

No plan is in place that actually supports his claim that the treatment can be done cheaper. The Senate has plans to take the money allotted for the gambling treatment, and use it for alcohol and drug treatment.

The gambling money treatment does not all come from the state. In fact, most of the money comes from taxes that casinos currently are paying. Tax money that was intended to help problem gamblers, not drug or alcohol addicts.

The proposed Bill would cut $3 million off of the current funding for gambling treatment. That would leave just over $2 million to continue to go towards the treatment.


‘Deal or No Deal’ Gambling Lawsuit Thrown Out of Court

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The Georgia Supreme Court today threw out the case of a couple who was suing the game show ‘Deal or No Deal’. The case was brought on by the game show’s ‘Lucky Case Game’.

The lawsuit, which was brought on by Michael and Michele Hardin, claimed that the game violated the state’s anti-gambling laws. The Supreme Court did not agree with the couple, and the case was thrown out.

Lawyers for NBC argued that the game was not a lottery, as the couple’s lawyer was contending, but a promotional tool. The court agreed with NBC.

The couple was trying to recover money they had spent on text messages in which they were charged 99 cents in exchange for a chance to win the game. Their lawyer claimed they were entitled to get their money back because, “gambling contracts are void”.

The ruling that came down from the court was that state law, “offers no avenue of recovery to plaintiffs”. When the lawsuit was filed, the show temporarily stopped the at home portion of their show.

It is not known whether the game will continue now that the ruling has come down in favor of NBC. Their website gives no mention of if the game will resume. Georgia was not the only state where a complaint was filed. A lawsuit has also been filed in California.

Seminole Gambling Compact In Florida May Have To Wait Until March

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The man who has already successfully reached an agreement with the Seminole Indians in Florida involving casino gambling, believes there is little chance that lawmakers will have the same success next month.

A special legislative session has been called for next month to try and solve a $2.3 budget deficit. Casino gambling revenue from the Seminole Indians would have helped the budget deficit, but the governor does not believe the timing will be right.

Crist is hoping that a deal can be done, but expects that it will not be until the official legislative session in March begins. It is now up to lawmakers as to when they will again address the issue.

Crist has successfully negotiated a compact with the Seminoles that would have left the budget much less in debt right now, but legislators were upset they were not involved with the decision making process, and had the compact voided by the State Supreme Court.

Now, those same lawmakers are trying to negotiate a deal with the Seminoles, one that will most likely be similar to the one that Crist has already agreed on. In the meantime, the state is losing out on valuable revenue dollars the Seminoles are making by having blackjack and baccarat.

Among the recommendations that Crist submitted on Tuesday was that legislators finalize the compact with the Seminoles.

Governor Patterson Looking To Make New York A Gambling Empire

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The state of New York has the five boroughs, the Yankees, Broadway, and the Statue of Liberty. One thing that it never has been known for is their gambling. That may soon be changing.

Governor David Patterson is proposing major expansion of legalized gambling in the state. The money, he claims, is necessary to try and balance a budget deficit that is growing by the day.

“We believe that there is room for responsible growth in the gaming industry to help the state manage its fiscal difficulties,” said Matt Anderson, a state budget spokesman.

Patterson’s first order of business is to expand the operating hours for video lottery halls and Quick Draw games in the state. In addition, Patterson is proposing that more multi-state lotteries be added for New York residents.

“The expanded gambling would be a good thing. The more options people have, the more gambling they will do. At the end of the day, hopefully it will mean less taxes for us to pay,” said New York resident, Barry Shifter.

The money generated from the expanded gambling would go towards a budget deficit that is expected to be over $15 billion by the end of the next fiscal year. It is estimated that over $300 million would be gained in expanded gambling revenue under Patterson’s plan in the next two years.

Seminole Casino Gambling Deal In Florida Could Be In Place Soon

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Lawmakers can be funny when it comes to their egos. They may agree with a certain law or principle, but if they are not part of the process, they will turn their backs to the issue. That is what has happened in the state of Florida.

Many legislators believe that there needs to be a compact with the Seminole Indians regarding expanded casino gambling, they just do not approve of the fact that one was created without including them in the decision making process.

So now, over a year after Governor Charlie Crist signed a compact with the Seminoles, the state may be just weeks away from approving a compact with the Seminole Indians. If that sounds confusing, it is because it is.

Governor Crist signed the compact but was blocked from enacting it because legislators appealed to the idea that Crist did not have the right to agree upon the compact without their help. The high court in Florida agreed and voided the compact.

Now, legislators have begun the process of reviewing the compact and some believe that they will approve a similar version in next months session.

The two key components that are being reviewed are the amount of revenue the state receives from the tribe’s casinos. Legislators feel that the original compact did not maximize state money. The other issue is parimutuels in Florida want the exclusivity clause removed because they feel they cannot compete if they are not on an even playing field with the Seminoles.

Compromise will be likely and the Seminoles are more than willing to do what it takes to get the compact completed. They are currently running an advertising campaign that is pushing a deal with the state.

Britain Plans Online Gambling Summit

To seek support for its move to regulate the online gambling industry, Britain is planning to host a global online gambling convention. This summit is meant for open discussions of the problems of online gambling, including underage gambling and addiction.

The meeting is called for after a moving year for the online gambling business in the UK, where three huge online casinos hit the stock market in 2005, generating billions of dollars revenue.

Anthony Write, a spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport stated last Monday that the summit is organized to discuss problem areas like protection of children, money laundering, criminal infiltration and advertising. Write adds that the UK is the first country moving towards regulating the online gambling industry, and now it needs help from other countries to develop this idea.

Online gambling is big in Britain and the largest online gambling operator is located in the UK and came to the stock market in July as the biggest float in London in over five years.

Last year, the UK introduced the Gambling Act as part of a move to modernize the 40-year-old gambling laws of their country through a new regulatory framework. Some of the aspects of the new act got criticism from opposition politicians and anti-gambling groups, which warned for the dangers of gambling addiction and crime.

The global online gambling industry is in total valued up to $12 billion a year. Online poker became the most popular game all over the world, attracting many women to play on the internet, who otherwise would have never placed a bet in brick and mortar casinos.

Other reasons for the boom in online gambling, besides poker, were the growing and improving broadband accesses and the convenience of playing at home 24/7.

The UK ministry is planning to send invitation for the convention to countries all over the world, and has already received positive feedback from South African, Australia and New Zealand.

It’s not sure if the United States will participate in the summit, since online gambling is still considered an illegal activity in the US.

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