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  • DOJ Files Response Regarding Campos and Elie Case

    Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 by Nadia

The Department of Justice of the United States recently responded to Chad Elie and John Campos’ pretrial motions. The two men were indicted for their roles in the problems faced by online poker rooms early this year. While one acted as a Utah Banker, the other was a payment processor. According to the DOJ, the court should not allow the defendants’ motions to dismiss the case in its entirety.

Defendants Claim UIGEA is a Futile Law

The defendants claim that poker doesn’t fall under the aegis of illegal gambling and that the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is a futile law. In addition to this, Elie also claims that the IGBA or the Illegal Gambling Business Act is unconstitutionally vague when applied to this situation. The IGBA was conceived with reference to New York law. According to the defendants, the law allows for reasonable minds to differ with respect to whether poker can be called gambling. The backbone of the defense is the defendants’ claim that poker requires skill to win, rather than luck.

Response Filed by the DOJ – Defendants’ Claims are Futile

According to United States Attorney Preet Bharara, Elie and Campos’ claims that the UIEGA is futile is without merit. The DOJ also presented many years worth of precedent, dating back to the latter half of the 1800s, which showed that poker was indeed considered gambling. Their response also included the DOJ’s suggestion that poker, unlike sports betting, is not a game of skill.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated that the defendants claim that in all of the listed games (variants of poker), the player has no control or role in the outcome and that poker is entirely a game of chance. Bharara said that it differed from sports betting as the latter requires a substantial amount of skill. The response also stated that sports bettors have the chance to use their superior knowledge of teams, players and games in order to exploit the odds.

Highlights of the DOJ’s Response

The DOJ’s response was primarily targeted at discrediting Campos and Elie’s defense. The response focuses more on the fact that it is a game of chance. This is because the UIGEA is applicable to any game which is ‘subject to chance’. The DOJ stated that there is no disputing the fact that playing online poker is contrary to several state laws and that based on the fact that the game is subject to chance, the defendants’ motion to dismiss must be refused.

The defendants now have the burden of demonstrating to the court that the UIGEA, when approved by the Congress, intends to specifically exclude poker. This will be particularly hard since the IGBA (state gambling law) has frequently been applied to poker gambling when the UIGEA was being enforced.

According to the DOJ, the evidence will show the court that despite losing millions on Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and SunFirst processing, Elie continued to make arrangements of a similar nature with banks. Full Tilt Poker was in desperate straits before Black Friday as it was operating illegally and towards the end, it had very little access to the United States financial system.

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