Posts Tagged ‘Rep.’

Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

 Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

You know that feeling when you are around a person and you think to yourself, “Why won’t they just go away already?” Well, I’ve never been around him, but I’ve had that feeling about Rep. Charlie Dent (R – Penn.) for a while now. And guess what? He’s actually about to go away! Last fall, Dent announced that he would not run for re-election, but recently, he decided he wasn’t even going to wait for the end of his term and would walk away within the next few weeks. Though he is not my representative (mine is actually worse), I will not miss him.

Dent has positioned himself as a moderate Republican, serving as co-chair of the Tuesday Group Caucus, which is supposed to be a counter to the continued shifting of the party to the far right. But despite this positioning, Dent took up an extremely conservative stance on online poker, looking to ban it completely.

But it’s not even his objectively stupid stance on internet poker that I despise about him. It’s that he tried to get the game banned in an acutely unethical manner. See, he’s another one of those Sheldon Adelson jock-sniffers in Congress who will do the billionaire Republican donor’s bidding even if it goes against the best interest of his constituents (Pennsylvania, remember, legalized online poker and will see sites launch this year). Though Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) hasn’t done much on Capitol Hill and has been widely seen, even by most Republicans, as crony capitalism, Dent tried at least once to sneak RAWA language into an appropriations bill. The idea was to tack it on to a bill that was sure to pass without anyone noticing, then viola! No more online poker.

Here’s what the language looked like. Dent tried it in 2016, then was supposedly going to do it again last year, but I do not believe he ended up doing so:

The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults (including the applicability of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. 1084) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (31 U.S.C. 5361–5367) to such proposal), does not carry the force of law and shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying section 5362(a)(10) of title 31, United States Code.

Fortunately, some of Dent’s lawmaker colleagues saw what he was doing and disapproved, so he only submitted the amendment then immediately withdrew it.

From various interviews, it seems like part of why Dent is leaving Congress early is that he’s simply sick of Donald Trump and his administration. While he hasn’t completely come out and condemned Trump, he has admitted that he is tired of all the childish tweets and insane behavior coming from the White House, that it all gets in the way of what he and others are trying to get accomplished (even if some of what he wants to accomplish is crap). He was going to be done at the end of the year anyway, so he figured, might as well end the headache and be done now.

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UIGEA Villain Rep. Bob Goodlatte Retiring from Congress

 UIGEA Villain Rep. Bob Goodlatte Retiring from Congress

With the focus nowadays on Senator Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Adelson, and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz when it comes to those trying to prevent regulated online poker in the United States, it is easy to forget the founding assholes of the anti-poker league. One of these reprobates, Rep. Robert Goodlatte, announced that he will be retiring from Congress next year.

Goodlatte was one of the co-authors of the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which outlawed monetary transactions between financial institutions and online gambling sites. It didn’t make online poker explicitly illegal, just the means of funding accounts. Of course, as horse racing is important to Goodlatte’s Virginia, he made sure there was a carveout for that industry in the bill.

UIGEA wasn’t just awful because of its content, either. It was tacked on to the SAFE Port Act, a “must pass” piece of legislation, and as the bill was passed late at night, there was virtually no debate on the UIGEA. Most lawmakers hadn’t even read it.

The UIGEA didn’t end online poker in the U.S. immediately, though. Many online poker rooms and networks exited the U.S. market when the legislation took effect, but others ignored it and stayed. PokerStars has been the biggest online poker room in the world for a long time, but it wasn’t until the UIGEA that it rose to dominance. PokerStars, along with Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet, came to rule the industry for a while because they remained in the U.S., gobbling up the gigantic player pool.

Of course, Black Friday came along in 2011, wiping out the U.S. online poker industry. Even now, just four states have legalized online poker with only three having sites up and running.

In a press release, Goodlatte said:

Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.

The most entertaining part of his announcement came earlier, though, when he wrote, “….I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.”

Hmm, let’s see. Sneaking in a bill to effectively stop online poker in the U.S. was an example of advancing personal liberty? No? Well then it was a way to advance economic growth, right? Oh, no? Then it has to be an example of limited government. Oh wait.

Good riddance to Bob Goodlatte. I hope he has fun with grandchildren and leaves the rest of us the hell alone.

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Ron Paul Scolds Rep. Charlie Dent for Sneaky RAWA Efforts in Op-Ed

 Ron Paul Scolds Rep. Charlie Dent for Sneaky RAWA Efforts in Op Ed

Regardless of what one thinks about former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, poker fans have got to appreciate the support he has given online poker over the years. And though he is no longer in the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul is still making his feelings known about the subject, calling out Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent in an op-ed for for attempting to sneak an online gambling ban through without so much of a debate.

In June, it was reported that Dent was going to attempt to add language to the House Appropriations Bill – a gigantic bill which authorizes government funds each year – that would nullify the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) clarification of the Wire Act from back in December 2011.

The Wire Act, originally passed in 1961, explicitly made sports betting over telephone lines illegal as a way to try to slow down organized crime. As online gambling and poker rose to prominence, the Department of Justice interpreted the Wire Act to include all online gambling, not just sports betting.

In December 2011, though, the OLC clarified the Wire Act, saying that it did only ban internet sports betting. Because of this correct re-interpretation, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have legalized and regulated online gambling and a number of states, including Dent’s Pennsylvania, are working on the same thing.

This got Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and one of the country’s biggest Republican political donors, riled up and since then, he has tried to push his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) through Congress, a bill which essentially says, “Yeah, that OLC memo doesn’t count. The Wire Act bans all online gambling.”

He has used Republican Senators and Representatives who want to be in his good graces to do his bidding, one of the latest of which seems to be Dent.

Dent actually tried this last year, but his colleagues found out about it before he could submit his amendment to the Appropriations Bill and told him it wasn’t going to happen. He still submitted it to save face before withdrawing it. Here is how it read.

And now, as Dent gets set to insert RAWA-language into another Appropriations Bill, Ron Paul is spitting fire. In his op-ed, Paul says that Dent’s “….proposed ban on online gambling violates the principles of federalism and threatens the constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of whether they gamble online.”

He goes on to outline how arguments against online gambling are mostly bullshit scare tactics and that “Criminalizing online gaming could also set a dangerous precedent that could be used to attack other rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.”

Paul adds that the sheer fact that RAWA supporters like Dent are trying to sneak this through is evidence that they know they are full of shit. Otherwise, they would let it be debated.

“Sneaking this bill onto the Appropriations bill is exactly the type of political ‘trick play’ that has made so many Americans disgusted with Congress,” Paul writes. “This is especially so given that it is an open secret that much of the support for this bill comes from one billionaire caisson owner who is also one of the country’s largest political donors. No wonder a federal ban on online gaming is opposed by political figures from across the political spectrum, from libertarians like myself to progressives like Barney Frank.”

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Rep. Chaffetz Not Adding DFS to RAWA

 Rep. Chaffetz Not Adding DFS to RAWA

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) is not planning to try to kill daily fantasy sports (DFS) along with online poker in his anti-online gambling bill, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Last week, the Review-Journal reported that Chaffetz, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, is cognizant of the potential legal issues surrounding DFS, but has no ambitions to add DFS to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

And why would he? Las Vegas Sands CEO and billionaire Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, the driving force behind RAWA (which Chaffetz introduced in the House in February), isn’t against DFS and does not see it as a threat to his business, as he does online poker. What daddy wants, daddy gets.

Chaffetz said that because fantasy sports and online horse racing are already given exemptions in other legislation, he is not going to mess with those. Instead, wants to change the definition of a law without actually changing the law itself, just to suit Adelson’s desires.

“There were already other carve-outs in place. My position has been that you just don’t unilaterally change a law. You can’t erase it or add one without going through Congress,” he said. “I’m trying to hold tight to just restore it exactly as it was previously. I’m not trying to make exceptions or adjustments to it.”

What he fails to say is that the law to which he is referring, the Federal Wire Act, wasn’t changed. It was simply re-interpreted correctly. Unfortunately for Adelson and his cronies, that correct interpretation is not one that they like. Take a look at the text of the Wire Act, put in place in 1961 (emphasis added):

Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

It clearly names only sports betting, not other forms of gambling. For whatever reason, though, the Department of Justice for the longest time interpreted the Wire Act as applying to all gambling over wire communication (read: internet), so online poker was considered illegal even though it really wasn’t. At the end of 2011, the DoJ revised its interpretation, saying that the Wire Act did, in fact, only apply to sports betting. This opened the door for individual states to legalize and regulate online gambling, including poker, as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) explicitly says that states can authorize intrastate online gambling. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have all done so and several other states are looking into doing the same.

RAWA would not “restore” the Wire Act, but rather the incorrect, pre-2011 interpretation of the law. What it would do would shut down the internet gambling industries of three states. Chaffetz is completely talking out of his ass. The question is does he actually believe what he is saying or is he just lying to please Adelson.

What’s funny about Chaffetz’s comment is that he said he isn’t going after DFS because it already has a carve-out in existing law. By his own logic, intrastate internet gambling should be left alone because it, too, has been given an exemption in the UIGEA.

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