Letter Sent to Assistant US Attorney Requesting Presence at Future Hearings
Washington, DC (June 9, 2009) – The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today released the following statement by PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato on questionable actions taken by a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York to freeze payment processor accounts containing more than USD 30 million in poker players‘ deposits and payouts.
The PPA also sent a letter to the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York asking for an opportunity to be heard in any future warrant hearings. The letter is available at www.pokerplayersalliance.org.
„The PPA is disappointed that this unprecedented action has been commenced against law abiding poker players. The payment processor funds frozen by the Southern District of New York belong to individual poker players – not operators of poker websites – and do not represent the proceeds of any gambling activity, much less illegal gambling activity. This money should be immediately released by the Southern District to ensure that player payouts are not further disrupted. To that end, the PPA is coordinating a legal strategy to appropriately protect PPA members who are impacted by the Southern District’s actions. Further, the PPA has contacted the affected poker websites and has been informed that deposit and payout issues of players are being addressed and will be fully satisfied.“
„There are many legal issues that question the merit of the Southern District’s actions. Of greatest concern is that, in at least two cases, these actions were taken without first obtaining a seizure warrant. Seizure of money without judicial authority and litigation tactics inconsistent with previously stated Department of Justice policy appear to be the type of conduct that the Department has recently committed to change. Accordingly, the PPA on June 8th wrote to the prosecutor in charge of the matter and raised appropriate challenges and constitutional concerns with the actions taken to date.
„We are also concerned that the Southern District has selectively taken action against online poker when the current law regarding the activity is far from clear, and policies from various levels of government are inconsistent at best. In fact, no federal or state court has ever found a payment processor or a player accessing an Internet poker site to have violated the federal laws alleged by the Southern District in this case.
„For more than three years the PPA has advocated for a clear US policy, established through licensing and regulating skill games like peer-to-peer Internet poker. The PPA remains committed to legislation that creates a clear regulatory framework and we will continue to pursue every legal course available to ensure that in this instance poker players‘ funds are not seized and their right to play online poker is protected.“