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Tribes Fret Over New Wire Act Interpretation

Posted by: Randy Williams - Sun, 2012-02-12 10:07

Tribes Fret Over New Wire Act Interpretation

The DoJ’s sudden and unexpected change of heart regarding the interpretation of the 1961Wire Act has prompted concern among the Indian Tribes, the smaller ones of which risk to be shoved aside from the online poker/online gambling table once things are kicked into high gear. The above said concerns have given birth to two congressional hearings in the matter, the second one of which took place on Thursday in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The tribal concerns were summed up by Robert Odawi Porter, president of the Seneca Nation. The various witnesses tried to address the said concerns, thus clarifying the exact impact of the Wire Act’s new interpretation for tribal interests all over the country. Porter’s first question was whether the new government decision would support or destroy Indian gaming jobs and the revenue that the tribes use to fund government services and programs.

According to the PPA’s Patrick Fleming, legalized and regulated online poker would by no means be harmful for tribal interests, given the fact that less than 1% of tribal revenues currently come from poker. According to Fleming, most of the poker rooms in Las Vegas and Atlantic City have sprung up in the wake of the online poker craze. It is therefore safe to conclude that online poker is in fact a promoter of live poker action rather than its enemy, and thus, the possible legalization and regulation of the game should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a hurdle.
The main problem for the tribes is the fact however that jurisdictions like Nevada and New Jersey are aiming to legalize online gambling too, not just online poker.
The conclusion drawn at the end of the hearing was that federal regulation was needed in order to prevent individual states from taking matters into their own hands regarding online poker and gambling. State level regulation would turn the obtaining of a license into a state-granted privilege and not a right for the tribes.

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