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GOP Circulates Memo Tying Jack Abramoff with Online Gambling Interests

17 April 2010 by Devon Chappell

As time draws near in which either the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) begins to be enforced (as much as is possible, of course) or proposed legislation to overturn the UIGEA and regulate online casinos is passed, the Republican party is gearing up for a fight. As reported by the Washington Post, the latest “card” being played by the GOP is none other than Jack Abramoff.Recently circulated on Capitol Hill is a GOP-backed memo arguing that while Jack Abramoff’s shameful lobbying tactics and ties to Indian casinos certainly warrants the jail sentence he is currently serving, the lobbying firm that employed Abramoff, Greenberg Traurig, has itself, been employed by online gambling interests, including the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) – a leading trade body formed of the biggest names in the online gambling industry and working to get online gambling legalized in North America.

In effect, the memo seeks to assert that it was Abramoff’s employer, Greenberg Traurig, that was in on the “criminal activities” carried out by Abramoff. But even if that was the case (however unlikely), the IGC never worked with Jack Abramoff in any capacity whatsoever. Furthermore, Abramoff was fired by the firm, apparently for doing things “his way”.

What may seem an ironic strategy, considering Jack Abramoff’s association with the Republican Party, could end up being a solid argument in the GOP’s fight against online gambling, or rather, fight to protect land-based gambling interests. The only flaw to their argument, is the fact that Abramoff was acting on his own and that his activities regarding Indian casinos had nothing at all to do with the work Greenberg Traurig was doing on behalf of online gambling interests. In other words, there is no solid base for argument to claim that Abramoff was connected with all of Greenberg Traurig’s clients.

In many ways, the attempts made by the GOP to squash the legalization of online gambling are paramount the same tactics used to get the UIGEA passed. Added as a last-minute attachment to a must-pass Port Security bill with provisions to block terrorist funding, the UIGEA was passed into law unawares to many of the politicians who voted for the port security bill.

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