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Black Friday: Harvard professor stimulates his students with a legal conundrum

CNN reports that online poker supporter and Harvard law professor Charles Neeson turned the bad news of Black Friday into a learning opportunity this week, asking his students: "The government seized online poker sites under a 2006 law that bans all financial institutions - banks, credit card companies, and online payment companies - from dealing with illegal Internet gambling.

"But there's no federal law that bans people from playing online poker. And while the Justice Department takes the view that Internet gambling is illegal, no court has settled the question of what is illegal and what is not.

"How would you represent me in this?"

Neeson wants his protégés to think of ways in which a regular citizen like himself might challenge the government on the issue.

Professor Neeson is no stranger to controversy; he teaches his students to play poker in order to better understand and use the law and human nature, and is the founder of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society.

The Society, which has a strong Harvard following, is based on the view that poker is a game of skill that can teach a multitude of important facts of life: strategic thinking, how to perceive risk, handle opponents and even geopolitics.

A colourful and highly intelligent personality, Neeson frequently makes the mainstream media headlines with expert opinions on the game and on his support for attempts to recognise it as a legal pastime favoured by millions of Americans.

The professor says his main reason for supporting these attempts is a desire for freedom of choice when it comes to poker.

He told CNN this week: "It's actually the liberty of playing. That's a true way of exercising a freedom on the net. It's a form of internet liberty I happen to value considerably and think replicates too many other things," he said, briefing CNN on the US situation.

He explained the UIGEA, drawing the distinction between a law that does not attack players, but their financial transactions with 'illegal' online poker providers. The problem is....what constitutes an illegal transaction?

There's no federal law that bans people from playing online poker. And while the Justice Department takes the view that Internet gambling is illegal, no court has settled the question of what is illegal and what is not.

Hence the conundrum presented to his students.

Neeson hasn't stopped there, reports CNN - he's joined players who have peppered the Justice Department's Facebook page with complaints, and he's protested to the officials involved in the poker indictments.

Others are also taking up arms, according to widespread news reports on the indictments. Some detail the over 70,000 protests sent via the Poker Players Alliance to US politicians; others have taken to Youtube, and blog coverage has been phenomenal.

Mainstream and online media articles on every aspect of the internet poker industry and the US attempts to snuff it out continue to proliferate, creating an exceptionally high profile for the industry and the attempts at state and federal level to legalise it.

In a typical piece written for the Huffington Post, the founder of a charity underlined the philanthropic nature of online poker providers...and the adverse impact of the DoJ attack on poker sites.

Kate Moulene of the charity Capian Enterprises writes that she was in negotiations with one of the indicted sites, Full Tilt Poker, to support a range of charities that included Japanese tsunami victims, but the project has had to be suspended due to the Department of Justice actions.

Source: InfoPowa News

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