We reported on Monday that the U.S. Justice Department accused poker celebrities and Full Tilt Poker owners Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson and others of defrauding poker players out of more than $300 million. Now, the American Gaming Association has released an online poker Code of Conduct and its president and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. has called on Congress to pass laws to strengthen enforcement against illegal online gambling operations. The new Code of Conduct will work to protect consumers, keep minors from gambling, offer tools to help gamblers and create provisions to help law enforcement identify and prosecute illegal operators.
“The AGA thinks online poker operators must adhere to the same stringent regulations that have proven effective in governing brick-and-mortar casinos,” Fahrenkopf said in a statement. “If online poker is legalized in the U.S., implementation of the principles of the Code of Conduct will ensure that American consumers are playing online poker in a fair and secure environment provided by a responsible operator.”
The Code of Conduct proposes the following six principles online poker companies should follow in order to obtain a license. Companies should:
· Conduct extensive background checks that will keep criminals out of the business;
· Install proper identification of every U.S. online poker player to assist law enforcement and keep minors, consumers from unlawful jurisdictions and cheaters from playing;
· Undergo regular testing and auditing of online poker software to ensure that games are fair and honest;
· Implement rigorous player exclusion processes to prevent minors, players from illegal U.S. jurisdictions and cheaters from accessing online poker sites;
· Institute effective responsible gaming protections on operator sites to educate patrons and provide problem gamblers easy access to tools to help control their behavior; and,
· Maintain stringent anti-money-laundering procedures that will assist the government in its law enforcement efforts.
Below is the Association’s statement on the Department of Justice’s action against Full Tilt Poker by Fahrenkopf.
“I have two simple questions: ‘How much and for how long?’ How much money that we don’t know about is being swindled from U.S. consumers and how long will it take before we change laws to protect those consumers?
“This morning we called on Congress to institute an effective online poker regulatory system to protect American consumers and released an online poker Code of Conduct that would ensure online poker companies are operated honestly, legally and responsibly.
“This afternoon the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused one of the most well-known offshore online operators, Full Tilt Poker, of bilking players out of more than $300 million. The U.S. attorney who made the accusation called Full Tilt Poker, ‘…not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.’
“Tomorrow Congress should begin changing the laws to protect consumers from such schemes.
“We applaud the DOJ for this latest action, but every time a shady website is shut down, an even shadier one pops up. The type of illegal activity the DOJ is accusing Full Tilt Poker of will continue to happen in the absence of the same tough, stringent regulations and enforcement that successfully govern bricks-and-mortar casinos. The Code of Conduct we released today details the type of measures that will help ensure American consumers are protected. The time to act is now, or millions of Americans playing online will continue to face a risky environment. Congress needs to establish federal guidelines so that states that choose to can regulate and license online poker, and bring the jobs and revenues associated with this billion dollar industry to the U.S.”