Monday, August 4, 2008

D Magazine asks, "What’s the Deal With Pete Sessions and Poker?"

Ever since the news broke about Pete Sessions' Las Vegas fundraising party, inquiring minds want to know, why Vegas? In an interview with KERA, Cathie Adams of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum said:
It surprises me that such a venue would be acceptable to a man whose record has been held so high as far as integrity, as far as conservative values. Certainly this is a family community and I don't think Mr. Sessions would particularly like either of his sons to be participants in such a venue.
Instead of focusing on the dancers and what they were (or weren't) wearing, D Magazine takes a "follow the money" approach in this article by Wick Allision: What’s the Deal With Pete Sessions and Poker?
...suddenly the Las Vegas connnection started getting more interesting. For example, there’s self-described “professional poker player” Howard Lederer and his wife Susan with a combined donation of $10,000. Andrew Bloch, another “professional poker player,” gave $4,000. Doyle Brunson tossed some more chips on the table with another $4,000. Barry Shulman was in for $2,000, and Linda Johnson matched up to $500.

...why did they choose a Dallas congressman as the vessel of their civic participation? Simple. Go to the the congressman’s statement on proposed UIGEA regulations issued on April 2, 2008. Then note that this year’s Vegas cash started flowing on April 7, 2008. Seems like Nevada has bought itself an extra congressman.
In the letter, Sessions expresses concern about how the regulations regarding the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) are drafted and enforced:
Like every Member of this committee, I believe that the accurate and faithful application of our nation’s laws is of the utmost importance, and I understand the important role that clear and consistent federal regulations play in achieving this goal. However, when regulatory guidance is vague, an unintended consequence can be the suppression of legitimate commerce caused by a regulated community exercising an unnecessary abundance of caution...

The unintended consequence of this lack of clarity will be for many financial institutions to block broadly anything which may in any way resemble gambling, be it legal or illegal. Indeed, I understand that the providers of online skill games are already having difficulty with payment processing...
I did a google search of "pete sessions, uigea" and found this interesting article from Online, an internet gambling website from Denmark:
New U.S. proposal to limit prosecution of pre-2006 online gambling activities

Yet more legislation on Internet gambling was introduced to Congress by Representative Pete Sessions this week in the shape of HR6663, titled the UIGEA Clarification Act.

The proposal will probably be welcomed by online gambling companies which were active in the U.S. market prior to the signing into law of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in late 2006, but withdrew when it was passed. This is because it seeks to prohibit the prosecution, on gambling charges or for any financial crime related to gambling, of any company or individual associated with a company that stopped taking U.S. Internet bets after October 13, 2006.

That would benefit companies like Party Gaming, and other majors who exited the US market when UIGEA was introduced, with the implication that these should not suffer punitive action for respecting the new law.
On July 30, Pete Sessions introduced H.R. 6663, "To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide additional clarification with regard to the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, and for other purposes." Text of the bill is available from Thomas: H.R. 6663

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