Online poker advocacy group FairPlayUSA is starting to make serious headway, now that it has the support of  Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI and Tom Ridge, the former director of Homeland Security.

Freeh and Ridge feel the campaign against online poker has been notoriously ineffective, with millions of Americans gambling on offshore sites without consumer protections. Even the indictments against three of the largest poker companies haven’t done much to keep people from gambling online.

FairPlayUSA’s arguments

Like the Poker Player’s Alliance, FairPlayUSA feels the regulation and legalization of online poker would be good for a number of reasons. Arguments they are making to advance their case include:

1. Customers will play anyways. There are already millions of people playing online poker. The government and its enforcers don’t seem to be able to stop them.

2. Criminalizing poker worsens things. FairPlayUSA is willing to acknowledge Congress had the right intentions when they shut down online gambling sites. Despite their best intentions, criminalizing poker only seems to make things worse. Gambling sites that operate within the bounds of the law are suddenly out of commission. Players now have the option between sites operating illegally and those operating overseas. Either way, customers have no protections.

3. Regulations would offer more protections. Congress can’t protect players who play online poker illegally. What if it were to regulate the industry? The game would be so much safer. Companies would be forced to abide by regulations designed to protect consumers. FairPlayUSA argues regulating the industry would make things better for them. Regulation should reduce fraud and possible corruption, and  could also make it easier to identify companies involved in possible money laundering.

4. DOJ’s efforts may be damaging Las Vegas. Las Vegas started taking refuges when DOJ starting cracking down on online poker sites. While many continued playing online poker illegally, some turned towards Las Vegas to make their bread. This has had a number of consequences for Sin City. Hotel booking rates have gone up as occupancy rates have risen. This is projected to get even worse now that some hotels like the Hilton are being foreclosed on. Las Vegas may not be able to handle the sudden burden of so many new occupants.

FairPlayUSA coalition wants to help

FairPlayUSA  wants to acknowledge that the U.S. government is looking out for people. However, the coalition feels its actions are misguided and ineffective. The group hopes former law enforcement officials on its side will help Congress see the light. Will this be enough to undo the damage DOJ caused by cracking down on Full Tilt and other big online poker sites?

Do you think FairPlayUSA will be convince Congress to legalize online poker? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in the forums.

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