FairPlayUSA (FPUSA) has two new marquee names to their board. Louis Freeh, former FBI director, and Tom Ridge, a one-time popular Republican, have been added to the board of the organization that is putting weight behind a proposal for federal gambling industry legislation.
The two men have very respectful backgrounds and their records are likely to be held up by those at FPUSA. Freeh served as FBI Director from September 1993 to June 2001 before leaving to work in the private sector. He founded an independent global risk management firm called Freeh Group International Solutions and recently headed the independent investigation into FIFA vice-presidents Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin-Hammam.
Upon his appointment, Freeh said, “Current federal laws fail to provide U.S. law enforcement vital tools to address illegal internet gambling, enabling a ‘wild-west’ atmosphere. I am joining FairPlayUSA to improve this environment by clarifying these laws, better empowering law enforcement agencies to crack down on violators and using licensing and regulation to ensure safe and legal online poker.”
Ridge was once a governor of Pennsylvania and a close advisor to George W. Bush. Jobs in the past have included the first head of the Office for Homeland Security set up in the wake of 9/11. Both these appointments have been made in the hope that it will make the group look even more law and order driven. They describe themselves as “a new coalition of law enforcement officials protection experts, poker players, companies in the commercial gaming industry and other Americans concerned about Internet gambling.”
Don’t let this throw a blanket of fog over what they actually are though. Being funded by Caesars Entertainment Inc and MGM Resorts means that they’re nothing more than an astroturf outfit i.e. they are attempting to disguise a nakedly corporate agenda as a spontaneous grassroots public uprising.
However, many reputable names they attempt to get on-board, the simple fact remains that they are funded by two members of the US land-based casino business. Their presence in the mainstream goes to show that the “big push” behind federal regulation this fall is still there. It still remains to be seen whether FPUSA’s presence will make any difference to the unlikely passing of a bill at federal level.