Thursday, June 11, 2009

Department of "Justice"

As an Omaha-8 player my life is not exactly stress-free. At least once a day I will flop the nut flush and nut low, lose the low on the turn to a counterfeit, and watch the flush dissolve on the river as the board pairs. I also have to maintain concentration over many hours while sitting at tables with players who have screen-names such as "ilovetoeatpoo." But this is the life that I have chosen and all I really ask is that I be left alone to make my living playing poker.

Apparently in the "land of the free" this is overly optimistic.

It has emerged over the last couple of days that the Department of Justice, acting through the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has frozen $30 million of online poker players' winnings.


Apparently it has something to do with the 1961 Wire Fraud Act. My detailed research has revealed that whenever some social-engineering, mindless, bottom-dwelling federal attorney decides they want to make a name for themselves without bothering with the niceties of due process they invoke wire fraud. Which they are compelled to do in the case of online poker because playing poker is not illegal.

In fact why online poker gets certain politicians all riled up baffles me. "Gambling is a disease. It destroys families." I see. Well, first poker is a game of skill it isn't "gambling," and second where are these nanny-state legislators when it comes to state lotteries?

I went to my local gas station the other day to buy a carton of cigarettes. For the reasons given above I, like many Omaha-8 players, smoke heavily. The check-out guy asked me if I wanted to buy a lottery ticket. I peered at him over my shades with my best "wtf do you think" glare. "Sorry," he replied, "we have to ask everyone that this week."

Walking home I mulled this over. The corporation running this gas station instructs its employees to invite customers to engage in gambling. Since the lottery is state run it follows that they do so with the full support of the state. This is essentially solicitation to participate in gambling of a form that would be illegal in any Nevada casino because the house take is so huge. But if I choose to play poker online and by using my skill advantage win money I run the risk of losing my winnings because of "wire fraud."

Genuinely confused by all this I decided it was time to do a little background research into the man apparently behind this madness, Arlo Devlin-Brown, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. It seems online poker is the bee in the bonnet of Mr. Devlin-Brown since it was he who went after Neteller and Party Poker for reasons that are baffling to poker players.

Based on my extensive research it is possible that Mr. Devlin-Brown has spent much of his legal career involved in noble causes protecting the innocent and acting as an advocate for the disenfranchised. And that while engaged in these activities he has shunned publicity. Because a thorough googling of Mr. Devlin-Brown returns a remarkably thin curriculum vitae up until the point he got in on this wire fraud scam. Specifically since 1995, when Mr. Devlin-Brown placed 4th in the APDA Speaker of the Year contest, his only notable achievement was the prosecution of a Mount Vernon trash hauler:

Albert Tranquillo III, 30, of Armonk, faces a possible new indictment that will include a charge of bribing a Mount Vernon Department of Public Works official.

"There is a substantial likelihood a superseding indictment will be handed down," Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said during Tranquillo's hearing before U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson.

Appparently this case was insufficient to catapult Mr. Devlin-Brown into the spotlight and he is looking for bigger fish to fry. Thereby chasing all my fish off the poker sites and back to the state lotteries.

1 comment:

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