BIG HITTERS JOIN FAIRPLAYUSA ADVISORY BOARD


THE FORMER DIRECTOR for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Louis Freeh, has joined a previous Governor for the state of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, in being named to the advisory board of the FairPlayUSA online gambling lobby group


THE FORMER DIRECTOR for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Louis Freeh, has joined a previous Governor for the state of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, in being named to the advisory board of the FairPlayUSA online gambling lobby group.

FairPlayUSA is a new coalition of law enforcement officials, consumer protection experts and others concerned about the failures in current United States law regarding illegal Internet gambling. They are calling for better protection for consumers and the creation of a strict, safe regulatory framework for online poker.

"Current Federal laws fail to provide United States law enforcement vital tools to address illegal Internet gambling, enabling a 'wild-west' atmosphere," said Freeh, who led the criminal investigative body from 1993 to 2001 under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush. "I am joining FairPlayUSA to improve this environment by clarifying these laws, better empowering law enforcement agencies to crack down on violators and using licensing and regulation to ensure safe and legal online poker."

FairPlayUSA stated that "millions of Americans regularly engage in Internet gambling on offshore websites that operate in direct violation of Federal and state laws and fail to provide necessary consumer protections". The group wants Congress to define 'once and for all' what is illegal gambling and provide stronger law enforcement tools to ban such activities and provide a strict regulatory framework for online poker.

"States and tribes have rights that must be protected by authorising them to decide for themselves whether to accept or prohibit online poker and make use of sophisticated technologies already in use in other industries to enforce those decisions," said Ridge, who served as the 43rd Governor for Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001 before going on to work as the Unites States Secretary for Homeland Security under President George W Bush.
 
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EUROPEAN COMMISSION REJECTS STATE AID COMPLAINT


THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has rejected a State aid complaint that was lodged by a number of land-based operators in Denmark challenging the lower tax rate due to be imposed on online gambling firms via the Danish Gaming Duties Act of 2010


THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has rejected a State aid complaint that was lodged by a number of land-based operators in Denmark challenging the lower tax rate due to be imposed on online gambling firms via the Danish Gaming Duties Act of 2010.

The UK's Remote Gambling Association (RGA). which supported the Danish government's ability to vary its gambling tax rate where there are clear and justifiable reasons to do so, provided detailed evidence to the European Commission and welcomed the judgement and its wider implications.

The European Commission deemed the Danish tax policy compatible with the internal market, which is a view widely supported by the remote gambling industry.

"There are obvious differences between the business models employed by off and online operators and the fiscal impositions on those businesses need to reflect that differentiation." said Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive Officer for the RGA.

"In essence, land-based operations compete within physical national boundaries whereas online companies are part of a highly competitive international environment and fiscal policy should be set accordingly. There are clear and justifiable reasons for a lower rate for remote operators.

"Obviously, this has implications for other jurisdictions and their fiscal policies, both those that have opened their markets and those that are planning to do so in the near future."

Hawkswood stated that the RGA could now "not rule out taking action against any European Union jurisdiction which has, or intends to impose an unjustified tax rate on remote operators".

"Those favouring offline monopoly operations' fiscal position should take note of this judgement," said Hawkswood.

With regards the opening of the Danish online gambling market, Hawkswood explained that "the State aid process has unfortunately delayed the introduction of the new Danish remote gambling legislation", although he hoped that "the new regime would now be put in place as soon as is practically possible because it would lead to important benefits for the Danish authorities, licensed remote operators and consumers alike".
 
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ALDERNEY REVOKES FULL TILT LICENCE


THE ALDERNEY GAMBLING Control Сommission (AGCC) has announced that it has revoked the licences of Vantage Limited.


THE ALDERNEY GAMBLING Control Сommission (AGCC) has announced that it has revoked the licences of Vantage Limited. Filco Limited and Oxalic Limited trading as Full Tilt Poker, with immediate effect (as of September 29). The move follows the Commission's earlier suspension of the licences, on June 29, in reaction to Full Tilt's involvement in a Southern District of New York indictment and its subsequent failure to satisfy the AGCC mat its "activities inside and outside the US were in order".

After an initial adjournment of 54 days at the behest of Full Tilt who didn't want a public hearing so as to attempt a "commercial rescue" of its business, a six day hearing was finally held in London. It emerged that Full Tilt Poker hid fundamentally misled AGCC about its operational integrity by continuously reporting (as liquid funds) balances that had been covertly seized or restrained by US authorities, or that were otherwise not - actually available to the operator. Serious breaches of AGCC regulations include false reporting, unauthorised provision of credit, and failure to report material events.

The AGCC's actions follow news from the US that a Federal prosecutor claimed that the site's board had operated the BUSINESS "as a massive Ponzi scheme against its own players". Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made the claim as he announced his office was filing legal papers as part of a civil money laundering complaint alleging that Full Tilt Poker had improperly used the funds of online poker players to pay members of its board $440 million since April 2007.

Bharara revealed that the motion would amend the forfeiture and civil money laundering complaint originally filed in April and charge Full Tilt Poker along with board members Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafael Furst in addition to Chief Executive Officer Ray Bitar with defrauding customers out of some $300 million after failing to maintain sufficient funds to repay players.

"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company but a global Ponzi scheme," said Bharara. "Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited."

Bharara claims that the Full Tilt board used player funds to pay itself large amounts of money largely transferred to accounts in Switzerland and other overseas locations. Specifically, the prosecutor maintains that Bitar pocketed $41 million while Lederer got $42 million with Ferguson allegedly paid $87 million in distributions and at least $25 million in cash.

Another owner, described by officials as 'a professional poker player', received at least $40 million in distributions as well as millions of dollars in 'loans' that have only partially been repaid. The government also claims Full Tilt continued to make payments to its owners of up to $10 million dollars per month even after becoming insolvent.

According to prosecutors, Full Tilt Poker began to face cash problems in 2010 following the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which meant it was unable to collect funds from US-based players.

The amended complaint suggests that the company's own financial records showed that it owed its international player base over $390 million even before the onset of'Black Friday' - over six and a half times the amount actually stored in the company's bank accounts ($59.5 million).

Just prior to going to press, Full Tilt announced that it had received an offer from French investor, Groupe Bernard Tapie, to buy the company. The potential acquisition, which would instigate the settling of some $300 million owed to players, is dependant on Full Tilt's ability to resolve its legal issues.
 
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