Let Freedom Ring Must Reads
PokerStars is currently the world’s largest online poker site, first rising to prominence in 2003 but grabbing the largest share of the global market in 2006 when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA) in 2006 and law abiding Internet gambling sites voluntarily left the US market.
PokerStars continued to illegally operate in the US, building a vast file of American customers and raking in billions of dollars.
PokerStars’ domination of the U.S. market came to an end on April 15, 2011, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara indicted the founders of PokerStars for “an elaborate criminal scheme” and “engaging in massive money laundering and bank fraud.”
PokerStars would settle with the Department of Justice in July of 2012, agreeing to a $731 million settlement to resolve the DOJ complaints against the company. This settlement did not, however, resolve the criminal charges against PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg.
Scheinberg still remains a fugitive from justice, albeit a very wealthy one thanks to the revenues from PokerStars’ illegal US operation, and the recent sale of PokerStars to a Canadian gaming company for $4.9 billion.
Now, PokerStars, despite the fact that New Jersey rejected its application for an Internet gambling license once before due to its history of criminal conduct, is attempting to gain an Internet gambling license in New Jersey – sneaking through a loophole that doesn’t require a public hearing or any kind of transparency.
Using its illegally-obtained customer lists and brand equity, PokerStars could create for a huge increase in Internet gambling, preying on young Americans – with no opportunity for public comment or even a public hearing.
Internet gambling is bad enough as it is, but allowing PokerStars to operate legally is a bridge too far. A company with such a clear history of flouting the law in search of profits should not be given license to target our children.
Taking a position on Internet gambling is not a simple matter of liberty (as some would have it).
Two questions set the stage:
1. Should minor children be able to gamble using credit cards (usually not their own)?
2. Should persons who are quite obviously drunk be free to gamble?
Even if you believe that gambling in general is a matter of personal choice and freedom, and should not be banned or substantially restricted by government, Let Freedom Ring believes that certain limitations are sound public policy if they protect especially vulnerable citizens from exploitation and financial ruin. Casinos are required by law to block underage children, persons who appear to be intoxicated, and others, from gambling. Internet gambling prevents a licensee from observing age or condition, and thus the licensee cannot prevent those who would ordinarily be stopped from gambling in person from doing so over the Internet. We believe that this is a sufficient basis for opposing Internet gambling in general, and PokerStars’ attempt to become licensed in New Jersey in particular.