Online Poker: “We the People”

April 2, 2013

The American people’s online petition for licensing and regulation of Internet poker finally received a response from the Obama administration on Friday after waiting nearly eight months.┬áThe National Economic Council deputy director, Brian Deese, who is also special assistant to President Obama on economic policy, issued a four-paragraph response. The first and last paragraphs were merely skeletons containing the introduction and the conclusion, leaving only two paragraphs with meat.

The second paragraph was an acknowledgement that a large number of Americans play online poker and they are not prevented by any federal law from doing so. It goes on to state that each state has the mandate to authorize online poker or not. This is a confirmation of the Justice Department’s green light in December to states to move ahead on the issue.

The third paragraph is a listing of the typical areas of concern in the issue of Internet gambling, including prevention of minors from playing, money laundering and fraud. With regard to that, the response states, “The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.”

The response said nothing of the petition’s actual message; that regulating online poker in the U.S. would be a safeguard against such concerns and at the same time offer consumer protection, create jobs, and raise revenue to the tune of billions of dollars.

Optimists had hoped the administration was putting together a thoughtful reply and hence the long wait: most of the other early petitions had already received a response. Following the failure of the initial set of responses to address the content of the various petitions, a new petition was created and it had the title “Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening.”

Pokers Players Alliance (PPA) created the original poker petition on September 22, aimed at the “We the People” promotion ran on the official website of the White House. In three days time, the petition had crossed the threshold of 5,000 signatures that was necessary for a response. By the time it was done, there were nearly 10,000 signatures.

John Pappas, the PPA executive director, said, “Today’s petition response is promising in the respect that each of the issues raised by the White House can be and will addressed by U.S. regulation of the industry.” He added, “The best response is for Congress to put a bill on the president’s desk that protects consumers, restores personal freedom and raises much needed revenue.”

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