The Difference Between Online Casinos and Fully Legal Land-based Gambling Halls

by , Feb 3, 2011 | 5:43 pm

A sign seen in the new Aviator Casino, in Delano, California, reminding me of a difference between casinos regulated in lands we know well and virtual establishments based out of places that may or may not exist beyond our poker imaginations:

This notice stood out to me as I was listening to Donkdown Radio live yesterday — where the troublemakers at DD apparently got Russ Hamilton on his private cell phone for a good ole fashioned radio prank call. Russ, of course, has never been prosecuted for egregious crimes he hasn’t even been formally accused of committing at an online “casino”. Hey, karma … living an OJ Simpson existence between Las Vegas and Florida.

Not to get off topic — because really, it’s just an amusing sign — but one thing I didn’t believe from UB and Annie Duke upon fingering the 1994 WSOP champ as the lone gunman in the biggest cheating scandal in gaming history was that they tried to prosecute Russ Hamilton but were unable to because of jurisdictional limitations. I don’t buy it because I’m pretty sure had they tried they’d have a letter from someone official stating just that — you know, like sorry, we’d love to help, but this alleged offense is beyond our ability to investigate. Think about it … the Neteller guys got tagged, as did others, even though they were in Canada and their servers were somewhere outside the US. Rapists have been extradited across state and even international lines for crimes committed in many different places. If anything, you’d think there’d be a fight over who gets to prosecute such people, not who can’t. All authorities would need is some respected agency to cooperate.

If Russ Hamilton did indeed steal $60 million … those crimes were committed arguably in the US against US citizens also in the US, and the Kahnawake would have evidence that the FBI would be very interested in. Sure, his defense counsel might be able to make a strong case around jurisdictional disqualifications … but that would still have the accused facing formal charges, and he would have a Constitutional right to challenge his accusers instead of just lashing out at his harassers in a low-stakes Florida game.

I’m no lawyer, so I could be wrong, but …

That’s what currently doesn’t exist with online poker in the US — the ability to prosecute what seems clearly a criminal act committed by an American in America against other Americans. Kinda bullshit when you think about it. Why can’t we? Why hasn’t anyone?

Not even a civil suit?

Curious, too, about the timing of Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth both leaving UB around the same time Russ Hamilton seems willing to make more appearances (where people might recognize him) and actually vocalize his distaste for efforts to brand him with a scarlet C.

(And btw, how did no one video this outburst if it really did happen? No one at a table nearby had an iphone at the ready?)

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