Online poker players in the United States have a new friend – it's the police! Who would have thought, right? It's not that the police have officially declared their support for online poker or anything, but the representative body of more than 330,000 police officers all across the states, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sent a letter to four leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week.
The FOP require that lawmakers in Washington come up with modern legislation giving law enforcement efficient tools which they could use to fight illegal online gambling operators. The letter, signed by the FOP national president Chuck Canterbury was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Although FOP's primary concern is curbing offshore online gaming providers, the legislation it seeks should also provide legal and licensed online poker operators with the opportunity to run their businesses in the United States.
“Today, there are no controls on Internet gambling to give U.S. consumers recourse to U.S. courts to provide prompt and accurate payments; no protections are in place to prevent or detect money laundering; no firm and transparent licensing of operators exists; and no regulatory controls are in place to prevent criminals from entering the marketplace, rigging games, or misusing customer financial data,” Canterbury said in his letter. “This has created a situation in which U.S. law enforcement authorities cannot shut down illegal activity, nor is there any way for those victimized by fraud or other criminal acts to seek redress.”
Canterbury also reminded the Senate and House leaders that the FOP supported the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, however, he underlined that the Act does not entirely serve its purpose. According to the FOP president UIGEA does not provide the law enforcement with tools that would help fight the illegal online gambling operators and prevent criminal activities such as money laundering as well as protecting the United States citizens from fraud. Therefore Canterbury asks the lawmakers to come up with new and better legislation.
“It is clear from the testimony given at the hearing mentioned above [the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing entitled, “Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?”] and the Memorandum Opinion from the Justice Department that Congress needs to provide law enforcement with a better, clearer framework if we are to achieve these ends [combat the use of offshore gambling operations to launder money from other criminal enterprises],” Canterbury said.
Another organization extremely pleased with the FOP's statement was the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) which believes that the biggest U.S. police officers union is a strong ally in the struggle for a legal and regulated online poker industry.
“The simple truth is the status quo is not working,” the PPA executive director John Pappas said. “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.”