The White House has issued a statement regarding its views about online poker. The statement was issued in an e-mail to individuals who participated in the “We the People” petition process by signing a petition calling for the legalization of online poker.
The response from the White House echoes the Memorandum Opinion issued by Obama’s Justice Department in December regarding the scope of the federal Wire Act. The Obama administration says each of the 50 states has the right to make its own decisions:
“…Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers… (emphasis added).
The e-mail in its entirety is posted below:
(Sent Friday, May 18, 2012)
What We Have to Say About Online Poker
By Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Thank you for taking the time to participate in the “We the People” petition process. We launched this online tool as a way of hearing directly from you, and are pleased to see that it has been effective in soliciting your feedback. We understand your interest in the petition to support the legalization of online poker, and appreciate the opportunity to share President Obama’s concerns about this issue.
The Administration understands that many Americans engage in paid online poker games for entertainment purposes. Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers, but online gambling that is not authorized by state law may also violate federal statutes.
The rapid and anonymous nature of the internet distinguishes online games from onsite games, such as those in casinos, and creates distinct challenges. For example, there are many means of technologically circumventing restrictions on online gambling that can allow individuals from countries where gambling is illegal — or even minors — to play using real currency. Online games also have greater potential for fraud because gambling websites are much cheaper and easier to establish than on-site locations, and like telemarketing scams, can appear and disappear overnight. Finally, online gambling can be used in money laundering schemes because of the volume, speed, anonymity, and international reach made possible by internet transactions. 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.
Thank you once again for signing the online petition. We appreciate hearing your opinions and look forward to hearing from you again soon.