Online Poker News - No Internet Gambling Legalization Without Tribes
11th of February 2012 - latestpokerbonuses.com
Monopoly threats if 'commercial interests' prevail
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in its Thursday's hearing on the topic “The U.S. Department of Justice Opinion on Internet Gaming: What's at Stake for Tribes?” predictably delivered different perspectives and an insight into Indian fears.
Robert Odawi Porter, president of the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York, expressed tribal concerns that major land gambling corporates in Nevada and New Jersey pushing for federal legalization may be trying to stage what he described as a 'power grab' in order to establish a monopoly for their benefit.
It was last year when National Indian Gaming Association condemned Rep. Joe Barton's attempt to federally legalize online poker reminded Porter, and said it was imperative that the tribes were involved in the political debate on legalization.
Poker Players Alliance lawyer Patrick Fleming also stressed the importance of tribes' involvement in the legalization process. He distinguished online poker from other forms of online gambling suggesting that legalized online poker could generate additional business for Indian land operators, and that the rake from internet poker represents only one percent of the total tribal gaming win.
"The short answer to the Department of Justice opinion is that states are now free to do whatever they wish with respect to Internet gambling, except for, of course, sports betting. This opens up an entire Pandora's box of possibilities," Fleming told the committee.
Legal academic Kevin Washburn thinks that the DoJ's recent revision of internet gambling policy in the context of the Wire Act placed pressure on Congress for a federal solution, and called the legalization by individual states 'schizophrenic' and impractical. Both Washburn and a Senator from Colorado, Mark Udall, noted that as the tribes are dependent on gambling revenues and that they should be involved.
Fellow academic I. Nelson Rose fears that a state-by-state approach could mean the exclusion of the tribes unless state politicians included them. He warned that New Jersey's plans included handing complete control of its intrastate online activity to the Atlantic City operators. Rose mentioned that California was considering prohibitive license fees for online poker that could make it impossible for smaller tribes to compete.
By contrast, he cited Connecticut, where it appeared possible that the tribes operating Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun would be given authority.
Indian gaming lawyer Glenn Feldman pleads that politicians must be cautious and careful on the legalization issue, for its potential to impact a diversity of state laws, compacts and businesses.
As other witnesses told the committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl are working on an Internet gambling legislation that may involve the legalization of online poker hoping that the Justice Department opinion may force Congress to clarify the current law.
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