The Wars On Terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Crime, Childhood Obesity, and Debt Having All Been Won…

I have some idea of what at least three lawyers went through this morning when the FBI seized the three largest and most profitable online poker and gambling websites and indicted eleven executives for money laundering. I had a business client get seized by the feds once – dozens of FBI and other federal agents took everything out of their office of greater value than the dust bunnies in the storage room, Froze their business and personal bank accounts, and enjoined them from filing bankruptcy without leave of court. And to make matters worse, we were denied access to any of our own client’s records, which left us with something of a paucity of evidence with which to defend ourselves. We put up as valiant a fight as we could, but at the end of the day with no evidence and no assets, our clients folded and consented to an almost laughably oppressive permanent injunction and counted themselves lucky to have not been imprisoned, and three weeks’ worth of blowing off all of our other clients was for naught (and we never got paid, which made it a really bad deal for us).

So when the feds want to drop down on you like a ton of bricks, you get all two thousand pounds, all at once. That’s what some lawyers got to go through this morning, I’m quite sure. And their clients, who are probably cooling their heels in a holding facility after having been arrested in the wake of their money laundering indictments. Because they ran online poker websites that used real money (because they wanted to make a profit in actual dollars as opposed to, say, World of Warcraft gold pieces).

So I’m so very happy that despite the strained financial times, my Federal government is busy using the awesome power of its law enforcement apparatus to protect me from the danger that I might affirmatively choose to go online (despite no one having impelled or coerced me to do so), and run up a hundred bucks’ worth of debt on my credit card playing poker. And that my Federal overlords simultaneously afford me the liberty to hop in my car and drive for four hours to Las Vegas, two hours to the Indian reservation, or twenty minutes to the county line — where I could, without my host casino breaking any law whatsoever, take a cash advance of a hundred bucks on my credit card and then drop that same hundred bucks on live poker against the shills and props hired by the casino or on a computer “slot machine” that plays poker using the exact same program that I could have accessed online at home using a credit card.

I know what some lawyers went through today. I suppose it’s no worse than busting a drug user, an exercise of government power to punish something else that ought to be legal but isn’t even though it is indistinguishable in practice from a different kind of activity that is perfectly legal (i.e., taking the same drugs except with a candyman doctor’s prescription in your pocket).

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Let’s say that they raid a fat guy’s house for being fat. How much money can they confiscate?

    Let’s say that they raid “PokerPoker.Com” for breaking the law. How much money can they confiscate?

  2. If anyone had asked me an hour ago, I’d have told him that all of the major online gambling sites were located and run from overseas, for just this reason. Good thing no one did.

    • They’ve busted some British guys over the last few years when those guys have had connecting flights in the US.

  3. A bit of info: it’s not that they were “running a gambling site”, it’s that they couldn’t find banks to process their payments, so they were either bribing banks to do it or flat-out lying about what the payments were for. Complain about Puritan morality if you will–God knows there’s no shortage of moral prudery masquerading as legal activity–but that’s not what was going on here.

    • And you know why the banks wouldn’t process payments? Because of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Which was *all* about Puritan Morality. (except for when it was about ‘terrorism’ or ‘the children’)

Comments are closed.