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  1. #1
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    Default GPSTS/PPA rally in Massachusetts today

    The Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society and the Poker Players Alliance will be holding a rally today in Boston to protest the Governor's casino plan that includes a provision that will make Internet gambling a crime for the player, resulting in a possible two-year jail sentence.

    “I don’t think filling our expensive jail cells with poker players is what Massachusetts voters had in mind when they elected Deval Patrick,” Nesson said in a statement.

    The rally comes after weeks of crusading by Nesson and other members of his Harvard poker society on the issue. Nesson has written to Patrick, and to top casino executives with an interest in Massachusetts, urging that the penalties for online gambling be dropped, said Andrew Woods, a Harvard law student and a spokesman for the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society.

    The group has teamed up with Poker Players Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based organization chaired by former New York Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, which is pushing to legalize online poker. The group is lobbying against a 2006 federal law that bans online poker and other forms of Internet gambling.

    “It is hypocritical to attach this to a casino gambling bill,” said Woods. “You could get a couple DUIs before you get two years in jail in the commonwealth.”
    Full story here ... http://www.bostonherald.com/business...81100&srvc=rss

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    Default

    Vinism and GaryT are on the scene at the event as I write this and will be reporting back on the hearing and rally.
    I have left the industry and earned a law degree at Indiana University Bloomington, Maurer School of Law. Here are ways to stay in touch with me:
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    Charles Nesson, the mastermind behind the GPSTS, had a good op/ed in the Boston Herald about how the provision got into Governor Deval Patrick's casino bill.

    Word in the poker community was that lawyers for Sands Casinos in Las Vegas had contributed to the crafting of the casino bill. And indeed I had seen Sheldon Adelson, the powerful chairman of the Sands, present and in the flesh at the Legislature’s Dec. 19, 2007, hearing on the bill.

    So I wrote him a letter and asked him directly: “do you support the criminalization provision? Did you help write it?”

    On Mar. 6 he replied, disavowing any involvement in or support of the provision. To my delight he offered to help encourage its separation from the bill. So it seems not to be the casino interests who stand behind the criminalization provision.

    With Mr. Adelson’s letter, I have gained an ally. But I have not solved the puzzle.

    In the meantime, Kyle Sullivan, the governor’s press secretary, accused me in print of being ill informed about the bill.

    So I wrote him and said, “As one who is well informed, would you please clarify who wrote the bill and how the criminalization provision got in there?”

    There has been no reply as yet.
    Full story here ... http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opi...icleid=1081013

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    Default A report from the hearing...

    Yes, Vinism and I were in attendance yesterday for what turned out to be a 13-hour hearing at the Massachusetts State House. Yes, that’s right, 13 hours!

    The day began around 9 a.m. when hundreds of members of the local construction workers union congregated on Boston Common and were addressed by Gov. Deval Patrick. In Patrick’s proposal, he claims that thousands of construction jobs would be created in order to build the three land-based Massachusetts casinos, so this union has good reason to support it.

    The rally staged by the Poker Players Alliance and the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society was somewhat less-populated, but just as energetic (I spoke to one man who drove two hours from Western Mass. with his wife and 6-year-old daughter to be there). It was also held on the Common at the same time and was spearheaded by the Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson, who created the GPSTS. While most of the people aligned with these organizations wouldn’t mind seeing casinos in Massachusetts, what they were protesting is a provision hidden on page 28 of the 33-page proposal that would criminalize online gambling with a penalty of two years in jail, a fine of $25,000, or both.

    With his followers clad in red t-shirts that read “Poker Is NOT a Crime,” the spirited Nesson led a chant of “Now’s the time! Poker’s not a crime!” as he headed up the State House stairs to the hearing. Little did anyone know that Nesson wouldn’t get his chance to speak until about 10 hours later.

    Inside the hearing, it was jam-packed. The Gardner Auditorium, the venue for the hearing, is quite old and holds about 600 people. Every seat in the place was filled, many of them construction and hotel union members, and there were probably about another 200 people standing. Security actually had to turn another 200 people or so away after the place filled up.

    Gov. Patrick spoke first and was under the hot lights for about an hour. He admitted that he realizes his bill is in trouble, but pleaded with the panel representing the Members of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies that they begin an open debate on the proposal rather than simply kill it.

    After the governor, there was a seemingly endless line of people from both sides of the issue who testified. There were experts, legislators, members of Patrick’s cabinet, mayors, convenient store and restaurant owners, union leaders and more. All made valid points, some more than others, but for the most part the people who spoke were passionate and informative.

    Around 9 p.m., Prof. Nesson – who at one point had to leave the hearing to go home and feed his dog – finally got to speak. Flanked by Randy Castonguay of the PPA, Prof. Nesson pointed out that the current proposal would criminalize online gamblers. Castonguay asked if it sounded reasonable to put him in jail for two years simply for playing 1 and 2 cent ante poker online. He mentioned that more than 400,000 people across the state play poker online. Would we need to build new jails in order to house all of these “criminals?”

    The committee shamefully responded by saying that they were not aware of this provision being in the bill. Sounds preposterous to me, and if it’s true, this committee hasn’t done its job of actually reading the entire bill.

    As for where the bill goes from here, the committee is expected to issue its recommendation as soon as this afternoon. When it does so, it must indicate whether it favors or supports the plan. If the committee releases the bill with a recommendation that lawmakers reject it, it could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.

    We will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings and update the forums when and if anything breaks.

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    Default Decision on casino bill is delayed

    According to the Boston Herald, the legislative committee was forced to delay a vote on the Massachusetts casino bill today after the committee’s leaders admitted "they bungled the polling procedure."

    The economic development committee was scheduled to release results of the committee’s casino vote at today noon, but polling of members was extended until 4 p.m. today because of a procedural snafu.

    Here's the story:

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/re...ome&position=4

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    The committee shamefully responded by saying that they were not aware of this provision being in the bill. Sounds preposterous to me, and if it’s true, this committee hasn’t done its job of actually reading the entire bill.


    We're more trouble than I realized in this state!

    Thank you for the great reporting.

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