Online poker received an unlikely ally last week when the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking that they put a regulatory system in place for online gaming. In addition, the FOP is asking that they be given the authority to shut down offsite illegal operators.
The letter was made public by the Poker Players Alliance and basically points out that “Millions of Americans wager regularly on offshore Internet gambling sites beyond the reach of the Federal government.” They also point out that there are “no controls on Internet gambling to give U.S. consumers recourse to U.S courts” in regards to payments and also that there are no regulatory controls to prevent criminals from entering the marketplace.
The FOP is lobbying for both a regulatory framework to be established and also a modernization of the Federal Wire Act in order to catch up with the technology age. By doing this and giving law enforcement the tools to combat illegal operators, they feel this will be the best approach in helping to protect American consumers.
PPA executive director John Pappas said of the letter, “The simple truth is the status quo is not working. Even our law enforcement officials recognize that regulation is the only way we can protect U.S. consumers and ensure their basic rights are upheld. We are proud to have the FOP join our efforts to ensure a safe and regulated online poker market for all Americans.”
A few things should be pointed out regarding this letter. First, it is not poker specific but rather an overall request for a legal internet gambling framework. The letter does not outright support any form of gambling but is rather a request for laws to be established and authority given to law enforcement officials to prosecute criminals in connection to those laws.
The FOP may now be the most significant group lobbying Congress for online gaming legislation. Representing 330,000 law-enforcement officials, their approach is one that should at garner at least some consideration. Now the real challenge will be whether lawmakers that supported the UIGEA will be willing to change their stance regarding gambling and take this step. Congress is not known to change their mind often, but with law-enforcement on board with the change, it could the added incentive some need to make that change.