An Interview With Lawrence G. Walters: Part I, originally published at >WINNERONLINE – http://www.winneronline.com
by Karl Yu, Winneronline
15 August, 2006
There are a lot of legal implications when it comes to online gaming and America’s stance against it. Over the past six months the U.S. has launched a major offensive on the industry on both the federal and state level.
CEO’s have been detained, sites have been shutdown, anti-gaming legislation is progressing from House to Senate, an outright ban has gone into effect in one state, online poker newspaper articles have been pulled and both investors and online poker players are left wondering what the fuss is all about.
Lawrence G. Walters is an attorney who specializes in internet/gaming law and First Amendment and censorship issues. He has first-hand knowledge of all that is transpiring and offered insight into the challenges that the online gaming industry faces and could face.
Winneronline: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Lawrence G. Walters: I’m an online gambling attorney; I’ve been doing this for over a decade and represent some of the larger companies in the field. I have written a number of articles and Law Review pieces on internet gambling issues. My firm is a firm of about 10 lawyers, I’m one of the partners and we focus on constitutional and internet issues and we’ve been involved in some of the most important free speech cases throughout the United States, including seven cases in the United States Supreme Court. I’ve been doing this for awhile and my particular focus is on the internet gambling issues.
Winneronline: What was your initial reaction when you heard of David Carruthers’ detention by U.S. officials?
LGW: I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised. This was a potential outcome that had been discussed in industry circles for quite some time.
Some leaders in the industry had openly questioned why Mr. Carruthers would come to the United States at all and expressed concerns about the risks associated with his travel to the U.S. given the company’s operation of a sports betting business and so I guess it wasn’t entirely surprising. But it is disappointing that the government is using its scarce prosecution resources on an entertainment activity that is supported by over 80 percent of the United States’ citizens and especially given the other significant concerns of their law enforcement like terrorism and public corruption and many of the other more significant criminal enterprises that are prevalent throughout the world.
Winneronline: With recent actions against Jessica Davis and Bill Scott of WWTS (World Wide Telesports) and the Carruthers situation, is the U.S. government saying that they are serious about imposing our rule on the online gaming industry?
LGW: I think the U.S. government has always been serious about enforcing online gambling laws against sports betting operations. I don’t think that you can extrapolate anything further into other forms of online gambling such as poker since the law is at best unclear and more likely does not apply to any other form of online gambling despite the Justice Department’s pronouncements to the contrary.
Obviously the [U.S.] government has opened up a new front when it comes to pursuing foreign companies and citizens for online gambling violations. I think it’s unprecedented for the U.S. to pursue a foreign individual like Mr. Carruthers for an online gambling violation and so that certainly sent out shockwaves through the industry given this new kind of tact that the Justice Department is taking with regards to foreigners, but as far as opening up a wider front and concluding that the government is now willing to take on the internet gambling industry as a whole, I don’t think that’s what this case means.
READ MORE: Read the complete interview with Lawrence G Walters at WinnerOnline