DOJ Ties Online Poker to Organized Crime in Rebuttal to Elie and Campos Dismissal Motions

November 5, 2011
DOJ Ties Online Poker to Organized Crime in Rebuttal to Elie and Campos Dismissal Motions

Last month, John Campos and Chad Elie filed motions to have the DOJ’s case against them dismissed.  On Friday, the US Department of Justice responded to those motions and further defined their plan of attack against online poker.

Forbes reported on the 51-page document filed by the DOJ.  The DOJ contended that “the conduct alleged in the Indictment – a scheme through which the charged defendants abused the U.S. financial system in order to fund their illegal operations – amounts to clear violations of the statutes charged.”

Next, in a move that actually may open the door for the luck vs. skill debate to be decided upon, the DOJ contends that poker is indeed “gambling” and not a game of skill.  Their argument centered around the fact that society treats poker as gambling and that even poker players in saloons were called gamblers.  As part of their defense, they mistakenly reported that Willie Nelson sung the lyrics to the song The Gambler and not Kenny Rogers.

In addition, the Justice Department claims that the La Cosa Nostra, aka the American Mafia, was involved in the payment processing for the poker companies.  They allege that a mafia member was once called upon to assist in “collecting money” from Chad Elie when he was accused of stealing from the poker companies.  If this is proven to be factual, this will be the first solid proof that poker had ties to organized crime.

The filing also states that Congress did not have intentions to exclude poker from the UIGEA, and if they had wanted to do so, they would have done.  They say that lawmakers actually changed the wording of the bill to include online poker.  They said that the UIGEA would apply to games “subject to chance” instead of games “predominately subject to chance.”

The DOJ also alleged that saying poker is different from gambling activities such as sports betting is inaccurate  They claim that sports bettors can use their knowledge of players and teams and as such, they gambler has a say in the outcome similar to poker.

Finally, the Justice Department shot down Chad Elie’s claim that the disguising of transactions did not cause harm to banks.  The payment processor gave customers the ability to reverse their e-check payments long after they were made and as such, banks were not afforded the right to accept or reject said business.

This rebuttal by the DOJ raises some serious challenges against online poker, but at the same time may finally get the questions of skill vs. luck answered on the federal level.  Unfortunately, if some of the allegations are proven factual, this may further hurt the industry in the eyes of the casual gambler and the public in general.  Expect the motion for dismissal by Elie and Campos to be rejected in this case.

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