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Open Letter to Governor Deval Patrick – Poker is not a CRIME!

To the Honorable Deval Patrick
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Dear Deval:

Who Wrote Your Casino Bill?

Your Casino Bill tries to make playing poker online a CRIME! You threaten people like me with two years imprisonment and $25,000 fine. A disgraceful federal law passed without democratic process as a rider to a port security bill already criminalizes payment companies for processing bets. But even that misguided law stops short of criminalizing online poker players.

Since November 2007 when you offered up your casino bill I have been trying to determine who or what the force is behind the criminalization provision. I spoke with your spokesperson on the casino bill. He surprised me by being completely unaware of the criminalization provision. Obviously to him this was not something high on your agenda.

Word in the poker community was that lawyers for Sands Casinos in Las Vegas had contributed to the crafting of the casino bill. And indeed I had seen Sheldon Adelson, the powerful chairman of Sands, present and in the flesh at the State Legislature’s December 18 hearing on the bill. So I wrote him a letter and asked him directly: do you support the criminalization provision? Did you help write it? To my delighted surprise, on March 6th he replied to my letter disavowing any involvement in or support of the provision. He offered to help “encourage its separation from the bill.” So it seems not to be the casino interests who stand behind the criminalization provision.

With Mr. Adelson’s letter, I have gained an ally. But I have not solved the puzzle. In the meantime, Kyle Sullivan, your press secretary, accused me in public print of being “ill informed” about the bill. So I wrote him and said, “As one who is well informed, would you please clarify who wrote the bill and how the criminalization provision got in there?” There’s been no reply as yet.

I keep sending letters – to Daniel O’Connell in the Office of Economic Development, to John Hall the president of Suffolk Downs, which is the State’s largest race track, to George Carney, who owns the dog track in Raynham. I will keep writing letters and pressing the issue until I get an answer.

Who wrote the bill’s provision trying to make playing online poker a crime? Do you stand behind it now?


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