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Old 07-30-2007, 01:50 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Master letter thread

Let's start the master letter thread. This can be for any letter sent in support of our position (not just letters to Congress). Let's also use this to post received letter.
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Old 07-30-2007, 01:52 AM
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Default Re: Master letter thread

April 9, 2007

Thank you for your continued correspondence about legislation related to Internet gambling that passed in the 109th Congress. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

As you know, H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act signed into law as part of a larger bill package on October 13, 2006. The internet gambling provisions will prevent the use of credit cards and fund transfers for unlawful internet gambling and block financial transactions associated with illegal gambling.

While many Americans have the misimpression that internet gambling is legal because of the easy access to online casinos based offshore, it is not. The new provisions do not change the law, but rather provide new enforcement tools to help law enforcement and financial services companies crack down on this already illegal activity, This legislation received endorsements from the religious community, family groups, financial services groups and all the major professional sports organizations.

American dollars account for half of the $12 billion bet worldwide on the internet. FBI and Justice Department experts have warned that internet gambling websites are vulnerable to being used for money, laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing, As a member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, my colleagues and I have taken a particular interest in this issue. I have serious concerns about terrorist financing and the possibility of terrorists laundering money through unregulated, offshore online casinos.

House Financial services Chairman Barney Frank [MA-04] has expressed an interest in reprieving this issue. As a member of the Committee, I will take your support for a repeal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act into consideration should the issue come up again.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on internet gambling. Also, you can sign up for the _____ District’s E-Mail Newsletter by visiting my website at http://__________.house.gov/emailsignup.aspx.

Sincerely,

Rep. Geoff Davis
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  #3  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:53 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

My reply:

April 13, 2007
The Honorable Geoff Davis
United States House of Representatives
**** **** House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Davis:

I thank you for your April 9th letter where you responded to my request that you work to restore the right of Americans to play Internet poker and other casino games in the privacy of their own homes by cosponsoring Barney Frank’s upcoming Internet gambling legislation. I’d like to share with you my humble opinion on the matter.

By way of introduction, I’m an engineer with one of the area’s larger employers. After a long day at work, I enjoy playing a little poker on occasion, and I prefer playing in the comfort of my own home with my wife at my side to playing in a smoky casino in [the neighboring state]. I happen to be skilled enough at the game to win significantly more than I lose, but that’s not really the point. Poker is an enjoyable game of skill, much as golfing or fishing. In fact, poker is one of the great American pastimes. Presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress and average Americans have enjoyed the game for more than 150 years. It’s an honorable game.

As a conservative Republican, I share some of your concerns about online gambling. However, it’s not obvious that federal laws restricting our freedoms and liberties will solve these issues. After all, online gambling will continue internationally. In fact, the WTO has recently ruled the U.S. violated international trade law by prosecuting online gambling cases. As such, I urge you to support legalization with regulation. A regulated Internet gambling environment will facilitate age verification and collection of federal and state taxes. It will also reduce any potential vulnerability of gambling websites to being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorist financing. With regulation, potential problems can be controlled without taking freedoms from Americans. After all, Russians and Eastern Europeans can gamble online; it seems the U.S. should trust its citizens at least as much as Russia trusts theirs, right?

You mentioned the endorsements H.R. 4411 received from the religious community, family groups, financial services groups and all major professional sports organizations. I hope you’ll consider the fact that these groups do not necessarily represent the majority of voters in our district (or even the majority of Republicans in our district). As for religious and family groups, there is no prohibition against gambling in the Bible. As a Christian, I personally find it offensive that so many so-called religious folks are willing to give away our freedoms, especially in pursuit of a goal not even defined in the Bible. As for financial services groups, some credit card issuers may like UIGEA (due only to the risk of losing players refusing to pay up), but I don’t believe banks wish to be the enforcers of UIGEA. As a result, I think you’ll find financial services groups to be net losers as a result of UIGEA. Finally, I believe the concerns of the major professional sports organizations relate only to sports betting. A regulated online gaming environment can address that concern.

Online gaming will continue to exist with or without the participation of the United States. We’re losing our opportunity to control the games via regulation as well as the opportunities for U.S. companies to operate the games both domestically and internationally. This is costing America jobs and tax revenue.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer
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  #4  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:53 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

My letter to the subcommittee Republicans (my letter to the full committee is virtually identical):

April 8, 2007

House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
Minority (Republicans)
Rayburn House Office Building B-301C
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representatives:

I'm writing to ask you to restore the right of Americans to play Internet poker and other casino games in the privacy of their own homes. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is big government nanny-statism at its worst. I believe the outrage of my fellow poker players contributed strongly to the Democratic win in the last election. It's not just me; many Republican core supporters do not support the big government nanny state. That's why the Contract with America was so enthusiastically received by the Republican rank-and-file. In the interests of freedom and bipartisanship, I ask the committee to support Chairman Barney Frank’s upcoming Internet gambling legislation.

The impact of UIGEA includes the following:

· This law forces American banks to function as the moral police of America. It shifts the costs and other burdens of enforcement to them as well.

· As a result of this law, Americans are now less free than even Russians and Eastern Europeans.

· The Department of Justice has elected to act outside the scope of existing federal law. The recent heavy-handed DOJ arrests of the founders of Neteller and the seizure of pending EFT transfers from Neteller to American citizen are outrages. It seems the DOJ has a vendetta against U.S. online gamblers who broke no federal laws by playing. In other words, although they are part of the executive branch, they’ve elected to create their own laws – laws that have not been introduced through your subcommittee or approved by Congress.

· The House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions should desire a regulated market. That way, the U.S. can set and enforce age limits while establishing procedures for money-laundering monitoring.

· The U.S. should comply with the recent WTO ruling that concluded that our restrictions on Internet gambling constitute an unfair restraint of trade.
Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TE
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  #5  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:54 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

My letter to Kyl:


April 25, 2007

Senator Jon Kyl
United States Senate
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Kyl:

I’ve been following your efforts to restrict the ability of Americans to choose play Internet poker and other casino games in the privacy of their own homes. I’d like to share with you my humble opinion on the matter.

By way of introduction, I’m an engineer with one of the nation’s larger companies. After a long day at work, I enjoy playing a little poker on occasion, and I prefer playing in the comfort of my own home with my wife at my side to playing in a smoky casino. I happen to be skilled enough at the game to win significantly more than I lose, but that’s not really the point. Poker is an enjoyable game of skill, much as golfing or fishing. In fact, poker is one of the great American pastimes. Presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress and average Americans have enjoyed the game for more than 150 years. It’s an honorable game.

As a fellow Republican, I share some of the concerns you’ve mentioned about online gambling. However, it’s not obvious that federal laws restricting our freedoms and liberties will solve these issues. After all, online gambling will continue internationally. In fact, the WTO has recently ruled the U.S. violated international trade law by prosecuting online gambling cases. As such, I urge you to support legalization with regulation, rather than prohibition. A regulated Internet gambling environment will facilitate age verification and collection of federal and state taxes. It will also reduce any potential vulnerability of gambling websites to being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorist financing. With regulation, potential problems can be controlled without taking freedoms from Americans. After all, Russians and Eastern Europeans can gamble online; it seems the U.S. should trust its citizens at least as much as Russia trusts theirs, right?

On the topic of freedom, it seems the Republican Party has chosen to be the party of social conservatism only. The party now supports big, powerful government as long as it promotes the party’s social agenda. As such, it appears limited-government Goldwater/Reagan Republicans like myself are no longer welcome in the party. However, without us, it’s hard to see how the Republican Party can win in the West (or anywhere but the South). Do you like being in the minority, as you are today? What about when a libertarian-conservative Democrat runs against you on a platform of a smaller federal government? Ironic (at least at one time), but very foreseeable now. As an aside, when that does happen, the way things stand now he’ll likely receive a lot of donations from poker players around the nation. Also, many younger voters will wake up and turn out like they did against Rep. Leach.

Proponents of online gambling prohibition often mention endorsements UGIEA received from some in the religious community, some family groups, some financial services groups and some professional sports organizations. I hope you’ll consider the fact that these groups do not necessarily represent the majority of voters in our nation (or even the majority of Arizona Republicans). As for religious and family groups, there is no prohibition against gambling in the Bible. As a Christian, I personally find it offensive that so many so-called religious folks are willing to give away our freedoms, especially in pursuit of a goal not even defined in the Bible. As for financial services groups, some credit card issuers may like UIGEA (due only to the risk of losing players refusing to pay up), but I don’t believe banks wish to be the enforcers of UIGEA. As a result, I think you’ll find financial services groups to be net losers as a result of UIGEA. Finally, I believe the concerns of the major professional sports organizations relate only to sports betting. A regulated online gaming environment can address that concern.

Online gaming will continue to exist with or without the participation of the United States. We’re losing our opportunity to control the games via regulation as well as the opportunities for U.S. companies to operate the games both domestically and internationally. This is costing America jobs and tax revenue.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer
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  #6  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:55 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

My letter to the Daily Show:

To: thedailyshow@comedycentral.com
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 7:31 PM
Subject: Rep. Barney Frank would be a great guest!


Dear Sir/Madam,

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) would be an outstanding guest on The Daily Show under any circumstance, but he'd be awesome now that he's introduced a new bill (HR 2406) to allow online gambling. It would be entertaining television to listen to Jon and Rep. Frank discuss the self-righteousness of the people who wish to ban online gambling.

Thanks for your consideration.

TheEngineer
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  #7  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:56 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

Rep. Spencer Bachus, the top Republican on the House Financial Committee, is an anti-Internet gambling zealot on the order of Kyl or Goodlatte. Here's a quote"

[ QUOTE ]
"There have been studies by Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, McGill University in Canada, American Psychiatric Association -- all of these say the younger someone starts gambling, the more likelihood that they become a compulsive gambler. Addicted to gambling, just like addicted to drugs. So there is a correlation between drug dealers and gambling sites." - October 2006, CNN

[/ QUOTE ]

While I don't even hope to change this guy's mind, I do wish him to know that we're no longer his punching bags. He can no longer restrict our freedoms and speak against us with no downside.

Maybe his past few months in the minority have helped clarify things in his mind. Anyway, here's my letter to him:

May 3, 2007

The Honorable Spencer Bachus
2246 Rayburn Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Bachus:

I’ve been following your efforts to restrict the ability of Americans to choose play Internet poker and other casino games in the privacy of their own homes. I’d like to share with you my humble opinion on the matter.

By way of introduction, I’m an engineer with one of the nation’s larger companies. After a long day at work, I enjoy playing a little poker on occasion, and I prefer playing in the comfort of my own home with my wife at my side to playing in a smoky casino. I happen to be skilled enough at the game to win significantly more than I lose, but that’s not really the point. Poker is an enjoyable game of skill, much as golfing or fishing. In fact, poker is one of the great American pastimes. Presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress and average Americans have enjoyed the game for more than 150 years. It’s an honorable game.

As a fellow Republican, I share some of the concerns you’ve mentioned about online gambling. However, it’s not obvious that federal laws restricting our freedoms and liberties will solve these issues. After all, online gambling will continue internationally. In fact, the WTO has recently ruled the U.S. violated international trade law by prosecuting online gambling cases. As such, I urge you to support the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 (HR 2046).

HR 2046 provides real regulation, rather than a porous prohibition. A regulated Internet gambling environment will facilitate age verification and collection of federal and state taxes. It will also reduce any potential vulnerability of gambling websites to being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorist financing. With regulation, potential problems can be controlled without taking freedoms from Americans. After all, Russians and Eastern Europeans can gamble online; it seems the U.S. should trust its citizens at least as much as Russia trusts theirs, right?

On the topic of freedom, it seems the Republican Party has chosen to be the party of social conservatism only. The party now supports big government as long as it promotes the party’s social agenda. As such, it appears limited-government Goldwater/Reagan Republicans like myself are no longer welcome in the party. However, without us, it’s hard to see how the Republican Party can be a majority party again. Do you like being in the minority, as you are today? What happens when a libertarian-conservative Democrat runs against you on a platform of a smaller federal government? Ironic (at least at one time), but very foreseeable now. As an aside, when that does happen, the way things stand now he’ll likely receive a lot of donations from poker players around the nation. Also, many younger voters will wake up and turn out like they did against Rep. Leach.

Proponents of online gambling prohibition often mention endorsements UIGEA received from some in the religious community, some family groups, some financial services groups and some professional sports organizations. I hope you’ll consider the fact that these groups do not necessarily represent the majority of voters in our nation (or even the majority of Alabama Republicans). As for religious and family groups, there is no prohibition against gambling in the Bible. As a Christian, I personally find it offensive that so many so-called religious folks are willing to give away our freedoms, especially in pursuit of a goal not even defined in the Bible. As for financial services groups, some credit card issuers may like UIGEA (due only to the risk of losing players refusing to pay up), but I don’t believe banks wish to be the enforcers of UIGEA. As a result, I think you’ll find financial services groups to be net losers as a result of UIGEA. Finally, I believe the concerns of the major professional sports organizations relate only to sports betting. A regulated online gambling environment, like the one created by HR 2046, addresses that concern.

Online gambling will continue to exist with or without the participation of the United States. We’re losing our opportunity to control the games via regulation as well as the opportunities for U.S. companies to operate the games both domestically and internationally. This is costing America jobs and tax revenue.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer
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  #8  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:58 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

Here's my note to my congressman. As it's like my 8th note this year, it's short and to the point:

The Honorable My Rep
United States House of Representatives
1108 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-1704

Dear Congressman xxx:

I'm writing to request that you vote for HR 2140, Rep. Shelley Berkley's Internet gaming study bill. While the opponents of online gaming have made a list of potential issues purported to be caused by online gaming, there’s never been a study that either verifies the validity of these claims or examines potential mitigations. It seems this should be done prior to even considering a federal prohibition of Internet gambling, especially as this activity is legal in much of the rest of the world.

If Americans are to be less free than Europeans, perhaps we should at least have some substantiation to justify a federal power grab of this magnitude.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer
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  #9  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:58 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

Here are my letters to Attorney General Gonzales and Secretary Paulson. This was an item from two weeks ago. I think you should consider doing this if you haven't yet, as our opponents have been. Thanks.

----------------------------------

May 15, 2007

The Honorable Alberto Gonzalez
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear General Gonzales:

On behalf of millions of law-abiding Americans, I am writing to ask you use care when drafting the regulations to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, so as not to exceed the specific requirements of the Act.

Many Americans oppose the UIGEA in its current form. It “passed” the Senate not by a majority vote on its merits, but by being sneaked into the Safe Ports Act, where it was safe from debate and discussion. As a result, reform measures like HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, have already been introduced, and others are sure to follow.

However, the UIGEA is law, and your department is tasked with enforcing it as written. As such, I humbly ask that you to just that – write regulations that address the legislation as written. I understand that some who advocate restricting the rights of Americans to choose to play poker online have been lobbying your department for regulations that are well beyond the scope and authority of UIGEA. For example, although recent court decisions have defined the scope of the Wire Act of 1961 as covering wagering on only sporting events and races, in your last Senate appearance Sen. Jon Kyl specifically asked you for regulations affecting all Internet gambling, even Internet poker. It seems that if Congress wanted to outlaw Internet poker, they would have passed an act that did so. They did not. I urge you to resist the efforts of individual politicians who would use your department as a “back-door” means of creating laws that they were unable to create legislatively.

Internet poker is not illegal under any federal law. I ask you to keep this in mind as you draft the UIGEA regulations. Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer

----------------------------------

May 15, 2007

The Honorable Henry Paulson
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Paulson:

On behalf of millions of law-abiding Americans, I am writing to ask you use care when drafting the regulations to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, so as not to exceed the specific requirements of the Act.

Many Americans oppose the UIGEA in its current form. It “passed” the Senate not by a majority vote on its merits, but by being sneaked into the Safe Ports Act, where it was safe from debate and discussion. As a result, reform measures like HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, have already been introduced, and others are sure to follow.

However, the UIGEA is law, and your department is tasked with enforcing it as written. As such, I humbly ask that you to just that – write regulations that address the legislation as written. I understand that some who advocate restricting the rights of Americans to choose to play poker online have been lobbying your department for regulations that are well beyond the scope and authority of UIGEA. For example, although recent court decisions have defined the scope of the Wire Act of 1961 as covering wagering on only sporting events and races, in Attorney General Gonzales’ last Senate appearance Sen. Jon Kyl specifically asked him for regulations affecting all Internet gambling, even Internet poker. It seems that if Congress wanted to outlaw Internet poker, they would have passed an act that did so. They did not. I urge you to resist the efforts of individual politicians who would use your department as a “back-door” means of creating laws that they were unable to create legislatively.

Internet poker is not illegal under any federal law. I ask you to keep this in mind as you draft the UIGEA regulations. Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TheEngineer
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2007, 01:59 AM
TheEngineer TheEngineer is offline
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Default Re: Master letter thread

Here the "sports coalition's" letter:
http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/fosi...ion_Letter.pdf

---------------------

March 22, 2007

The Honorable Alberto Gonzalez
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

The Honorable Henry Paulson
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear General Gonzales and Secretary Paulson:

On behalf of our respective professional and amateur sports organizations, we are writing to urge you to issue strong regulations to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Our sports organizations each have strict policies against sports betting, because wagering on sports can corrupt athletic contests or create the appearance of corruption. Internet gambling also runs directly contrary to federal and state statutes against sports gambling, particularly the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Though Internet gambling on sports has never been legal, easy access to offshore Internet gambling websites has created the opposite impression among the general public, particularly before this law was passed. Congress has also found, as have others who have examined this issue, that Internet gambling serves as a vehicle for money laundering, and that it has contributed to both underage and compulsive gambling.

We are gratified by recent reports from sports gambling insiders indicating that the new law has already caused wagering on the Super Bowl and “March Madness” to decline by over a third, even though there are no implementing regulations in effect yet. However, some of the same industry insiders believe that sports gambling will return to its previous levels by next year. Effective regulations are essential to ensuring that sports gambling does not rebound, but continues to decline as Congress intended.

Internet gambling businesses seek to – and until the passage of the UIGEA were easily able to – evade U.S. prosecutors by operating offshore. Thus, the most effective way to curtail Internet sports gambling is to interrupt the flow of funds between U.S.-based gamblers and offshore website operators. In the new law, Congress gave the Treasury Department, together with the Federal Reserve and the Department of Justice, responsibility for writing regulations to guide different types of payment systems in identifying and blocking these financial transactions.

Some payment systems, such as credit cards, can use “coding” to block online gambling funds. But other types of payment systems, such as checking and Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers, need a list of prohibited recipients or bank accounts in order to effectively block fund transfers. To prevent undue burden on financial institutions, such a list needs to be compiled and maintained by the government. The House Financial Services Committee Report clearly states that Congress intended law enforcement to provide financial institutions with the identities of illegal online gambling businesses or their financial accounts. The Committee Report also gave the agencies regulatory flexibility to develop alternative policies and procedures for “non-coded” transactions, consistent with the law’s goals.


We are asking you to commit the regulatory and law enforcement resources necessary to effectively implement the law. If proposed and final regulations are not strong, the illegal Internet gambling industry will once again see the U.S. market as a prime target for sports gambling operations.

Sincerely,

Rick Buchanan
Executive VP and General Counsel
National Basketball Association

Elsa Kircher Cole
General Counsel
National Collegiate Athletic Association

William Daly
Deputy Commissioner
National Hockey League

Tom Ostertag
Senior VP and General Counsel
Major League Baseball

Jeffrey Pash
Executive VP and General Counsel
National Football League
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