Blogs: What is the thinking in Minnesota?


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What is the thinking in Minnesota?
Dennis Boyko, PokerPulse
May 03, 2009 (version 0.5)

iMEGA Files Lawsuit Against Minnesota Department of Public Safety
By Dan Cypra for POKER NEWS DAILY | Posted on May 08, 2009

In the wake of the order by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety calling for the blockage of 200 internet gambling websites, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has filed a lawsuit.


The lawsuit filed on Wednesday notes that the internet permeates more than 150 countries worldwide. It also reminds readers that the Department of Public Safety generated the list of 200 sites randomly. Along with the domain name, the Department of Public Safety included each site’s IP address and telephone number in its letter to ISPs. Bodog, Full Tilt Poker, and Players Only headlined the list, which also included a bevy of rooms that do not accept U.S. players, including Titan Poker, Everest Poker, and Action Poker. Meanwhile, PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world, was noticeably absent from prosecution. [emphasis added]
View the complete Dan Cypra story here.

Was it Too Many Cream of Mushroom Casseroles in Luther Church Basements?
May 03, 2009

Maybe it is the result of boredom during the long winter months? Maybe it was frost bite on the brain? Maybe it is a side-effect from too many helpings of Cream of Mushroom casseroles in Luthern church basements? Maybe there is a bit of daring do in the halls of the Minnesota's Office of the Commissioner? Or maybe Minnesota just doesn't hire or keep anyone brighter than a burnt-out 40 watt light bulb?

Take your pick or take all of the above, because I don't see any other way to understand what came down from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Alcohol and Gambling Enforemcent Director Joel Willems in April 2009. Specifically, I am referring to the list of online gambling sites, to be blocked from access by residents of Minnesota which Director John Willems sent to:

Mr. Willems requested the ISPs block access to the listed gaming sites by ISP customers located within Minnesota. Click here to view the related document.

The rational for the Mr. Willems's request is clear enough:

Attached is a list of online gambling sites and telephone numbers that are available to your Minnesota customers. This gambling is illegal within Minnesota. The federal statute requires upon notice by a law enforcement agency (out division is a state law enforcement agency) that you do not allow your system to be used for the transmission of gambling information. We are therefore requestiong these enterprises not be allowed to transmit gambling information to your Minnesota customers.

Ignoring for the moment the hypcracy of the fact that the Minnesota State Lottery offers pure chance gambling options such as Lotto, ignoring the fact that poker is widely recognized as a game of skill, ignoring the WTO implications of individual state protectionism, ignoring the fact that prohibitions doesn't work, and also ignoring the fact that Minnesota is losing out on tax revenues that aren't being paid by off-shore gaming sites, lets focus on just the list Mr. Willem's team assembled.

First, lets look at some of the sites that are on the list:

But, wait, Ladbrokes has never accepted a US player. My understanding of the Ladbrokes position is the result of several discussions with the General Manager of the online group at Ladbrokes over the course of several years preceeding the UIGEA event. Ladbrokes certainly didn't enter the US market after the passage of UIGEA. Everest Poker, a brand name of GigaMedia, a Sarbane Oxley compliant US corporate governance compliant firm, has never allowed a single US players. The GigaMedia position on barring US residence from its Everest brand sites is well documented in various 20F filings and investor conference calls. Click here for more about GigaMedia, including links to recent investor conference calls and SEC filings.

So why did Everest Poker and Ladbrokes Casino make the list?

And more importantly, the list does not include the two poker sites with close to 80% of the total US poker traffic. Poker traffic that no doubt includes a proporational count of residents in Minnesota. Specifically:

And why aren't Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker on the list while obscure poker sites such as Action Poker, which minimial traffic, are on the list?. And why are sites such as Everest Poker, Ladbrokes Casino and Titan Poker, all with zero US traffic on Minnesota's list?

Of course the larger question is whether or not URL block would slow a site like Poker Stars down? Having spent years collecting table data from online poker room, I have seen many instances where my local ISP had DNS (Domain Name Server) problems but my Poker Stars client connected to the game server without issue. This happens since the traffic from the poker client goes to a specific IP address which is NOT dependent on DNS. Therefore blocking traffic to a Poker Stars URL would not cause any problems to Minnesotans with Poker Stars clients already installed on their machines.

What are the implications of Minnesota's list?

So what is the thinking in Minnesota?

Please tell us the criteria for inclusion or exclusion of a gaming site on your list. You do have criteria I trust?

From CJ
May 4, 2009

Check out Chris Wallace (Fox) Calls out Minnesota over Internet Gambling Ban

Further Reflection
May 4, 2009

Given that many/most gaming software that is installed on a online gambler's machine, will be able to connect to the gaming site's server, without relying on the gaming site's URL or for any DNS service provided by the ISP, means that having ISP block traffic to gaming site URLs is unlikely to have any impact on the ability of existing Minnesotans to play at banned gaming sites. The blocking of gaming site URLs would make it slightly harder for new players to install software but is unlikely to be much of a problem to work around. I really can not believe that Mr. Willem's team isn't fully aware of this fact, so what are they trying to achieve?

If Minnesota was really serious about stopping online gaming they would go after the gaming site bank accounts. Create an account, deposit money, withdraw money, trace the follow and seizure would be work of an instant and probably effective.

Perhaps, Minnesota wants the control attempt to fail.

Anyone in Minnesota Playing at Poker Stars?
May 4, 2009

I really can not believe that Mr. Willem's team wouldn't be fully aware that Poker Stars is the most popular online poker site in the USA and the biggest in the world. So, I have to wonder if Poker Stars is already blocking Minnesotans from creating real money accounts or participating in real money games if the players is located in Minnesota? Software to map IP address to geographic locations is widely available so it is entire possible for gaming sites to block access on a per state basis. Since I am not located in Minnesota I am unable to confirm whether or not a Minnesotan is able to create a Poker Stars real money account. If Poker Stars is blocking Minnesotans then that might explain why Poker Stars is not on the banned list, although it would NOT explain why Everest Poker is banned.

Please give me a Tweet or e-mail if you are playing Poker Stars or Full Tilt Poker in Minnesota.

But I still want to know why Mr. Willen's team has Everest Poker on the banned list (Everest Poker has never had a player in any US state) and Poker Stars, the biggest online poker site in the US and the world, isn't on the banned list?

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