Newsweek Needs to Correct Glaring Errors in Online Poker Story

John Mehaffey August 15, 2014

Newsweek has met a major backlash from the online poker industry after publishing an article titled: How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand. Leah McGrath Goodman is the author of this story.

The article, slated for the cover story in the August 22 issue, is a platform for online poker opponents. The main source for the story is U.S. House Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).  His home state has a law specifically banning online gambling.  It is just one of two states that outlaw all forms of gambling, including lotteries.

Chaffetz’s opinions are repeatedly presented as fact.  No opposing views are included.  That is just one of many problems with the Newsweek article.

Wire Act Makes Online Horse Racing Illegal?

According to the Newsweek article:

The only federal restriction Seitz preserved was the ban against online betting on such events as horse racing or March Madness.

A simple Google search shows that the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 was amended in 2000 to allow advance deposit wagering for off track betting on horses. This includes the Internet. The legality of this type of off track betting is left up to the states. More than half of the country allows this.

Cannot Get Dates Correct

It is easy to point out how little effort went into even the most basic fact checking when researching dates presented. For example, the article makes this accusation:

[O]n the Friday before Christmas Eve 2011, then-U.S. assistant attorney general Virginia Seitz quietly issued a 13-page legal opinion that changed everything.

The Newsweek article links to a Justice.gov source for the document in question. The date on the document is September 20, 2011 and the URL suggests that it was published on Justice.gov in September 2011. Newsweek did not even bother to fact check a link they used as a source to confirm the date.

The media did not discover the document until December, which may be where Newsweek is confused, but the date is included on the document presented as a source in their article and they still managed to get it wrong.

The misinformation in this DOJ document date is important.  The article implies that some sort of evil act occurred where Seitz tried to sneak an opinion through during the holiday season when fewer people would be watching.  That simply was not the case.

Another date error is the launch of Nevada online poker. The industry dealt its first hand in April 2013, not May 2013. If this were the only error it would be forgivable. Included in the pattern, it shows that editors and fact checkers at Newsweek once again failed to catch an obvious error, one that is easily verified through a simple Google search.

We alerted Newsweek and the author about both of these errors.  No correction has been made at this time.

Newsweek Article Shredded by Online Poker Writers

There are many other issues with the Newsweek article.  Online poker industry writers Chris Grove at Online Poker Report and Steve Ruddock at Bluff Magazine published detailed rebuttals that demonstrate just how poorly researched the article is.

USPoker Submitted Correction to Newsweek

We contacted the Newsweek’s corrections department about the inaccuracies described above, which are irrefutable, and many others mentioned in rebuttals published yesterday on other sites. We did not receive a response to our contact and no corrections have been made.

We also reached out to media relations at Newsweek for comment on our story. We did not receive a response to that either.

I personally contacted Leah McGrath Goodman via Twitter. Goodman returned one of my tweets, “Dates were all verified. If you have any other issue, just let me know”.

Editor Notes

It is not common for USPoker to call out other media sources. We publish many editorial columns and understand that not everyone agrees with us. We hope to spark discussion among our readers and the industry. We always welcome feedback and opposing views.

We clearly tag our editorials to let readers know when an article is an opinion and back up our position with as many relevant facts as possible.  Ignoring the factual errors littering the Newsweek column, it seems the article is being presented as a front page news story, not an editorial, which would be a more appropriate category for it.

We understand the point that Newsweek is trying to make in the article. The author and Newsweek are against online poker and its regulation. We do not agree with them, but respect their position and their right to have it.

There are egregious errors in the article that need immediate correction.  At this point, Newsweek has refused to make necessary changes to remove false information, even after being contacted repeatedly by many in the online poker industry. We find that to be completely irresponsible.

The Newsweek article in question may be found here – http://www.newsweek.com/2014/08/22/how-washington-opened-floodgates-online-poker-dealing-parents-bad-hand-264459.html

Privacy Policy