- Cops raid poker game, shoot caterer.
- Ogden residents rally to for Matthew Stewart, call for an end to drug raids.
- Headline of the day.
- Lede of the day.
- Alan Dershowitz doesn’t think much of the Zimmerman indictment.
- Police chief, suspect, woman with suspect killed in a disastrous New Hampshire drug raid.
Category: Gambling and Poker
- Virginia drivers ticketed for breaking a law that doesn’t exist.
- Another tribute to Siobhan Reynolds from Eapen Thampy.
- Professional Courtesy: NYPD officer suspected of drunk driving after car crash wasn’t given a blood alcohol test until eight hours later.
- DOJ changes its position on the Wire Act, possibly clearing a path for legal online poker.
- Annapolis police arrest the wrong “Hot Dog.”
- The New York Times looks at the expanding bourbon market. I’m excited for the new Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.
- People Are Awesome, the 2011 edition.
- Nevada legalizes online poker. Of course, that’s the one state where they don’t really need it.
- Ex-cop won’t do jail time for multiple arsons.
- More genius from Lawrence O’Donnell.
- Obama breaks another campaign promise.
- “As was the case in 2010, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual- based consolidated financial statements were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.” But sure. Let’s give them more control over health care, too. (Via Peter Suderman.)
- Good question.
- Chicago journalism professor records an arrest in progress. Police threaten him, seize his camera, and delete the video. If he was using sound, it’s still illegal to record anyone in Illinois without their permission, in which case the police destroyed evidence of a crime. If he wasn’t using sound, they illegally confiscated his camera and destroyed his property.
- Cabin porn. (Link is SFW.)
- An interview with the great John Prine.
- Government announces plan to make citizens safer by devoting more resources to harassing and threatening them.
- Mitt Romney demonstrates one of the most important qualifications to be president.
- Finally, something heartwarming. The first paragraph is really all you need.
- Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood easily wins reelection.
- In better news, anti-immigration zealot Russel Pearce is recalled from the Arizona Senate.
- From the Department of Surprising Headlines.
- Man gets life without parole for possession of child porn. It’s likely that the guy would have received a lighter sentence if he had actually molested a child.
- Unfortunate headline of the day.
- Interesting Slate discussion about which modern pop culture fixtures will become classics.
- In Tennessee, where all other forms of gambling are banned because the state doesn’t believe people can control themselves, the legislature is considering allowing credit card purchases of lottery tickets.
- Egyptian army opens fire on protesting Christians. Here’s a terrifying video.
- Occupy D.C. protesters don’t want to be filmed. I like the line, “This isn’t the South. You can’t just do whatever you want.” Weird and wrong on a number of levels. On the other side, an American Spectator journalist “infiltrates” the protests, then makes a complete ass of himself.
- Laura Bush is right. El Paso is one of the three safest cities in America, and has been for some time.
- ” . . . despite being a $100-billion-a-year company in a rapidly changing industry, Apple never formed a political action committee.” Sadly, this was probably to Apple’s detriment.
- Online gambling and the perils of prohibition.
- More doubts about the FBI’s anthrax investigation.
- Coffee snobs.
- Here’s Glenn Greenwald on how the Obama administration tolerates leaks of highly-classified information when it benefits the Obama administration. Meanwhile, Bradley Manning rots in a cell, still without so much as a trial. I’ve written this before, but I think Manning’s real crime was that he embarrassed politicians.
The amended suit accuses Full Tilt of being a Ponzi scheme that paid executives with funds that were supposed to be reserved in player accounts. Skeptical as I generally am of the government in these cases, a cursory reading of the relevant information suggests to me that Full Tilt was at minimum guilty of making some really stupid and likely fraudulent business decisions. From what I can tell, in an effort to stay operational after the feds brought down the hammer, Full Tilt continued to pretend to process deposits from U.S. players, even though it hadn’t lined up a legal processor to conduct the transactions. (Because the feds had already arrested and charged the executives of any processing company that tried.) So they were crediting accounts without actually withdrawing money from the players whose accounts they were crediting.
Shortly after the indictments, the feds then barred the company from processing any more payments from U.S. players, but simultaneously told players they could still use the site to cash out their accounts. Full Tilt couldn’t come remotely close to covering the ensuing run. That isn’t really a Ponzi scheme. But if true, it’s certainly not on the up and up. If Full Tilt executives were misleadingly running the site like a (poorly run) bank, I’d imagine that’s a pretty good case for fraud. It’s also fraudulent (and crappy business practice) to pay out your executives and celebrity endorsers first, while knowing that you can’t pay your players the money you promised them was protected and kept separate from general operating expenses. (I’m sure it’s illegal, but unlike the allegations above, I can’t personally conjure up much moral outrage over the allegation that Full Tilt disguised billing codes to get around the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.)
How much Lederer and Ferguson knew about all of this remains to be seen. (Disclosure: I’ve met and like both, so I hope their involvement was minimal.)
I’m sure opponents of online poker will cite all of this as proof that they were right, that these sites are havens for fraud, money laundering, and all sorts of other criminal enterprise. But the reason offshore sites were so popular in the first place is that it was and is illegal for any company based in the U.S. to provide online poker to U.S. residents, despite the fact that millions of U.S. customers clearly want to play. Full Tilt was trying to fill that demand, first legally, then by operating in a legal gray area, and finally (allegedly) by trying to circumvent the law. That doesn’t excuse the company from defrauding its customers, if that’s indeed what happened. But the government has been standing between the millions of people who want to play poker online and the companies that want to provide them with that service legally. This is what happens when you create black and gray markets. It is entirely predictable.
I’ll reserve judgment for now on whether Full Tilt’s legal problems amount to intentional fraud or dumb mismanagement wrought in part by trying to stay up and running even as the feds continued to slam doors. My best guess is it’s mostly the latter, combined with a bit of the former as it became clear the gig was up. What is abundantly clear is that the federal government’s paternalistic efforts to “protect” online poker players from losing money to offshore gaming sites . . . was a colossal failure.
MORE: See this comment from Mike C., who says meshing of player accounts with operating expenses was going on well before last year’s indictments. I’ve also now read the full indictments, and from here it looks pretty bad all around for Full Tilt and its executives. Of course, we do have trials for this sort of thing. So we’ll see how they go about attacking the complaint when the time comes. But the feds depict some really shady stuff going on, well beyond just trying to figure out how to keep the site operational.
MORE: This post initially indicated that Lederer and Ferguson had been indicted. That isn’t true. They’ve been added to the fed’s civil complaint. I’ve changed the post to reflect this.
This one was here in Tennessee:
Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputies raided yet another allegedly illegal gambling operation Wednesday night.
The latest raid targeted a poker game inside a private residence in the Bexhill subdivision in West Knox County, according to a KCSO spokeswoman Ashley Haynes.
Deputies discovered eight people around one poker table at 1304 Buxton Drive, and seized approximately $1,000 cash, Haynes said.
No arrests were made, but all information was turned over the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office for possible charges, she said.
I was going to make your usual “Knox County can sleep safer now” comment until I did some poking around and found this poker raid in Chattanooga last April, in which the police spokes-sergeant makes my point for me, only without the sarcasm:
“Any arrest obviously reduces crime in our city and a crime reduction means safer streets and safer communities.”
MORE: Via the comments, here’s more on the Knox County raid. It’s looking more and more ridiculous. Here’s a comments from a woman who says she’s the owner of the home that was raided:
Thanks for the comments folks. Here is the problem with the raid they did at my home Tuesday. There were 8 people there the lady who let them in even with my reservations with the deputy on the phone who threatened arresting everyone there and getting warrants ( you see I was not at home I was and still am in the hospital). The lady was doing laundry My other roomate and two friends were playing a card game called Fantan its like 3 way solitaire on a poker table left out from our holiday get together Sunday. Fantan requires you to chip if you cannot complete a sequence – wel l since you can only play with 3 l dont see where 8 people around a table playing poker came in. There were other guests there watching TV and enjoying a quiet evening. The deputies claimed they were gambling because chips and cards were involved.
Here’s a follow-up:
they conficated my tables to be stored after our holiday party they broke them because they were too lazy to take them apart, they took non-denomination chips that we use for tourneys, the money they confiscated was not gaming money it was personal property of my guests in their pockets, in their search they found poker paperwork had stats and point values, my cell phone because it had poker related pictures and last names that said poker not last names, and a 2lb bag of epsom salts that they recorded on a receipt as drugs. 2 computers mine and my housemates My problem is they have embellished the truth with each raid to Justify to the public the “good” they were doing. I am outraged that they have my neighbors thinking I am some criminal because I play poker! Heck their coworkers, other law enforcement areas have been to games I have played in and hosted what about them?
Working with the feds, the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Police Department set up a fraudulent payment processing business for online poker players. They then took the players’ money, under false pretenses, and deposited it in the federal government’s asset forfeiture fund. Complaining players, none of whom were ever charged with a crime, were told they’d have to try to recoup their losses from the poker sites, which of course have now had their assets seized in a separate federal investigation, and which never actually saw the money from these particular players, anyway.
Under federal “adoption” policy, any local police department working with the federal government in a criminal investigation gets to keep up to 80 percent of the property it seizes in that investigation. And once the feds get involved, the whole thing officially becomes a federal investigation, which allows local police departments to skirt state laws aimed at protecting citizens from forfeiture abuse.
In this case, the Anne Arundel Police Department bagged $30 million
seized stolen from online poker players. They celebrated with a press conference and oversized novelty check. They’ll use the money to buy some cool new police equipment. Let’s hope it’s for more SWAT gear, so they can feel a bit safer the 150 times each year Anne Arundel County SWAT teams are deployed, most of the time to serve search warrants that result in misdemeanor charges.
I love the line from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore: “The government is not going to give the money to gamblers.” Except for the working stiff who finally wins $100 after spending $500/month on the state lottery for 10 years. Then the government will gladly give money to gamblers. Because they know they’ll get it right back.
A U.S. citizen has been arrested in Thailand for insulting the Thai king on the Internet. Each alleged defamations carrries a sentence of 3-15 years in prison.
This is obviously terrible, and I hope the guy is released. But the premise here is no different than when the U.S. government arrests the executives of online gambling sites at U.S. airports and charges them under U.S. law, despite the fact that online gambling is perfectly legal in the countries where they’re citizens and where their companies are incorporated.
We set a pretty nasty precedent here. I don’t see how the U.S. government has much moral standing to demand this guy’s release.
The Obama Justice Department has indicted executives from the three largest online poker sites—Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars—on charges of money laundering and bank fraud.
This is the by far the most serious federal attack on online poker to date. I just checked my Full Tilt account. The site still appears to be up, but it isn’t accepting payments. Or at least it didn’t accept mine. The L.A. Times article linked above says Full Tilt’s website was down with an FBI seizure notice put up in its place. But as of this writing, it appears to be back up.
Good to know where the DOJ’s priorities lie. In this case, it’s preventing millions of people from consensually wagering money in online card games, an exchange that causes no harm to anyone else.
I predict this is going to prove to be a politically foolish move. Poker players are young, wealthy, and tend to be progressive on social issues. Reaction from the Poker Players Alliance here.
Reason on online gambling here.
- Fascinating article on the new generation of poker pros.
- A woman scorned, and all that.
- Here’s a profile of Mitch Richards, a young libertarian running for city council in Columbia, Missouri. I met with Mitch and the Keep Columbia Free crowd when I spoke there last year. They’re really impressive.
- Correction of the day.
- Obama and the Potter Stewart doctrine of preemptive warmaking.
- Maryland SWAT team raids a “high stakes” poker game . . . with a $65 buy-in.
- Fox News runs old footage to make it appear as if CPAC crowd is booing Ron Paul’s straw-poll win.
- Bieber fever gets creepy.
- Another local news station beclowns itself with “iDosing” hysteria.
- God bless the Internet. Google puts old Spy magazines online. For freesies.
- Cop reports another cop for sexual battery. Guess which one got fired? Guess which one is on paid leave?
- Interesting post by Jerry Brito on happiness, prosperity, and stagnation.
- Thank God this animal will soon be off the streets.
- Tea Party-backed candidates clash with House GOP leaders over defense spending. I’ve had my problems with the Tea Party, but this and the PATRIOT Act revolt are encouraging signs.
My column this week looks back at the Sal Culosi case. Culosi was killed by a Fairfax, Virginia SWAT team five years ago this month. Last week, his family settled with the county for $2 million. As I argue in the column, a settlement that large in a hard-to-win lawsuit against a police officer is an admission of guilt, no matter how county officials will try to spin it.
- Man dies in a house fire caused by police deployment of a flash grenade. It’s not the first time this has happened.
- The last paragraph of this article pretty much sums up my expectations for the new GOP-led House.
- Some crappy headlines this week. So here is a video of a tired puppy.
- Curious to know what Agitator readers think of this story. Should it be a crime to exploit a flaw in slot machines? I’m not convinced it should be.
- While we’re at it, here’s a bit more comments bait. To what degree is a 12-year-old culpable for murder? If you think this kid got what he deserved, at what age would you put the cutoff?
- I’m quoted in this Boston Herald article about this week’s SWAT killing of Eurie Stamps.
- City of Glendale set to shell out a total of $400 million to keep the Arizona Coyotes, worth $100 million, from moving.
- Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell at Belmont University. (Obligatory Caveat: Since it’s a private university, Belmont should be legally permitted to hire/fire whom it pleases, for whatever reasons it pleases. And I’m free to criticize them for it.)
- ICE seizes domains of hip-hop blogs, won’t say why. And no, ICE isn’t the name of a rival hip-hop artist.
- I missed these when they came out, and I still haven’t looked them over yet, but you can find the first full year of data from Maryland’s SWAT transparency bill here. I wrote about the first six-month report here.
- The iPhone “snitch” ap.
- Harry Reid jumps on board the Internet gambling bandwagon. There’s a lesson here for the money-corrupts-politics crowd: Reid only switched because of support from the Vegas bricks-and-mortar casinos. Which goes to show that money can have a good influence as well as a bad one. I’ll take a corrupt congressman who votes correctly over a pure-hearted legislator who consistently gives us terrible laws. (Not saying Reid fits either description.)
- Terrible story out of Long Beach, California, where police shot and kill a man holding a water nozzle. No announcement, no order to drop the thing. Just shooting.
Once he recovers, a 72-year-old man will be charged with attempted murder after getting into a shootout with the SWAT team who raided the private poker game he was hosting. From the Pokerati blog:
A relatively routine raid of a low-stakes poker game in Greenville, South Carolina turned bloody yesterday night — as police tried to gain entry to a poker house. The game host, now known to be Aaron Awtry, 72, shot through the front door, striking sheriff’s deputy Matthew May with a bullet that went through his arm.
A vice squad in SWAT gear returned fire, hitting Awtry with multiple rounds in his arm and thumb … which was followed by a 20-minute standoff between cops and players, according to a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department. Both shooting victims were taken to the hospital where they are in stable condition.
There were 12 people and Awtry in the house at 502 Pine Knoll Drive when police arrived at about 9:20 pm last night. According to frontline witnesses, they had just finished a small buy-in dinnertime tourney … and a 1/2 cash game was just getting underway when someone saw 5-0 approaching on a security monitor. Before he could clearly vocalize an alert, a battery ram begin slamming the front door and players froze. Awtry, who players say has notoriously bad hearing in his senior years and presumably believed the game was being robbed, began shooting at the door with his pistol, firing “at least once” according to a player, “multiple shots” according to police. At least four officers returned fire at the door with at least 20 bullets from their higher-powered assault weapons.
As Awtry fell back into the poker room entryway, he balked, “Why didn’t you tell me it was the cops?”
Local news coverage of the raid here. Police seized about $5,000 in cash. Everyone but Awtry was issued a $100 fine. Ironically, both the South Carolina Supreme Court and state legislature may soon clarify the state’s confusing laws about private poker games.
This is far from the first time police have brought the SWAT team to a poker game. Reason.tv covered a similar raid at on a charity poker game hosted by an American Legion post in Dallas.
- New Haven mayor agrees that maybe it was a bad idea to use a SWAT team for an underage drinking inspection. I guess that’s a start.
- This Onion piece could almost be a straightforward news story.
- Slate looks at Senate “vanity walls.”
- Little Billy’s Letters to Famous People.
- The New York Times on the Siobhan Reynolds case.
- Federal prosecutors in Washington State look to seize assets of online payment service that works with poker sites. Good to Obama’s DOJ has straightened out the priorities of the previous administration.
- NPR fires Juan Williams for saying he fears Muslims when he’s at the airport.
- MIT scientist building machine to determine whether or not we’re living in a hologram.
- Fun with headline double-entendres.
- Report: Bell, California public officials used low-income housing funds for personal slush fund.
- Depaul University refuses to recognize student group that advocates marijuana legalization.
- Pretty much par for the course when it comes to DHS policy.
- Last month, Washington State’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s ban on online poker, which puts playing online in the same class of crimes as child molestation, arson, and kidnapping. Here’s reaction from a poker player who recently moved there.
- Man falls, wife calls paramedics, man ends up tased three times.
- Fascinating article about an experiment in which Charles Darwin created a new ecosystem on a remote island.
- This little girl has an incredible voice. Caught her performance last night. It was even better.
- Man whittling in public confronted by police. Ends up dead.
- John McWhorter: Ending the drug war will do more to help black Americans than marching.
- The good news is that an online gambling legalization bill is slowly gaining momentum. The bad news comes in reading about how it’s happening, when you see just how ugly Washington sausage making really is.
Three bullet points of good news this morning. Granted, all three are qualified victories. But hey, that’s better than three bullet points of bad news, right?
- House Financial Services Committee passes bill to legalize, regulate online gambling.
- Congress passes bill narrowing crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity. Goes from 1oo-1 to 18-1.
- House passes bill to create commission on criminal justice reform.
- All My Friends Are Dead
- Michael Kinsley wants you to send him the most boring article you can find.
- Pitchfork Media’s probably illegal camera policy at music festivals in public parks.
- Dee Snider kicks the Gore family while they’re down. And he kinda’ has a point.
Our concluding arguments have been posted in my Economist debate about legalized gambling.
You should go vote for me, if for no other reason than that my argument includes a bad pun taken from a Kris Kristofferson lyric.
My favorite comment so far in the Economist debate.
At the time I am writing, there is 53% of the debate’s participants that think that there should be NO legal restrictions on gambling. So I conclude that for Radley Balko and 53% of the participants the following points are not very important problems in comparison with the benefits that society can get from a lack of restrictions or with the sacrosanct idea of freedom.
If there are no restrictions, I think that there are going to be special slots machines for kids in front of every school and a large amount of money to spend in advertising gambling to children. A lot of children are going to become gambling addicts and the gambling industry is going to make a lot of money when they grow up and began earning money. Besides, gambling is going to depreciate the value of money in their minds. 10 euros is nothing because if you are lucky you can win 1,000,000 euros or more by gambling these 10 euros… but in real life 10 euros is more than 1 hour of hard work in a lot of developed countries or 10 days of toil in others.
I grew up in the country side of France and I was 22 when I first entered a casino with some previous exposure to the dangers of gambling. Then, I haven’t become an addict and have gambled less than 3 times in the 8 following years. Now I am living in Colombia where they don’t have the means to tightly control gambling. I can see slot machines in every small grocery in the working-class suburbs where I live and who is gambling? Adults, but also 12 year-olds that seem to be already addicted. When I see that, I assure you that I am happy to have grown up in a country that have the means and the rules to not show me these slot machines when I was that age.
But for Radley Balko, these problems don’t seem very important and I am just amazed that 53% of the participants think like him…
I’m fine with letting elementary school-age children gamble, but only if they’re also legally permitted to drink. It would be cruel to let them wager away their allowance, but then deny them the sweet, melancholy ritual of drowning their sorrows in beer.
Our rebuttals have been posted in my gambling debate for the Economist.
Go vote! I’m down by six percentage points right now.