GPWA Times Magazine - Issue30 - October 2014

O ne of the worst things you can call a journalist is a hack. But after reading Newsweek 's embarrassingly inaccurate and biased mid-August cover story blasting online gaming, calling Newsweek a maga- zine run by a bunch of hacks would be a disservice to hacks. Ass hacks? Jack hacks? That's better. So how bad is this story? Let's start with the cover. Theoretically, this was a story about how a seemingly small action by the Department of Justice opened the door to online gaming in the U.S. That was the stated premise of the story. But is that what was represented on the cover? No. On the cover, we saw a forlorn child wear- ing a plain white T-shirt holding a tablet with a poker hand and the headline POKER FACE. First of all, POKER FACE ? Really? The best headline you could come up with is chan- neling 2008 Lady Gaga? And what exact- ly do children have to do with the DOJ's opinion on the Wire Act? Nothing. Regulated online gaming has been in place for more than a year in Ne- vada and almost a year in New Jersey and Delaware. There hasn't been a single reported instance of an underage gambler playing on sites licensed and regulated by New Jersey, Nevada or Delaware. But that didn't stop Newsweek from putting a forlorn kid on the cover. The goal here ap- pears to be to scare parents about the non- existent threat of minors gambling online. Did Sheldon Adelson buy this coverage? And if you're going to put a forlorn kid on the cover, don't give him a royal flush! No- body can be that unhappy when they get a royal flush (unless the joker in the hand with you at a bad beat jackpot table inex- plicably folds quads. But we digress). Now let's take a look at the article itself. In a story about how online gaming gained a foothold in the U.S., the "reporter" for the story interviewed a Congressman who op- poses online gaming, three problem gam- ing experts and a legal expert who doesn't like the DOJ. That's it. Outside of obtaining a brief statement from PokerStars, the reporter didn't include in- formation from anyone in the industry. The reporter didn't include any information about how problem gaming is addressed, or talk about age verification and how mi- nors are kept from gaming, or talk about how safe online gaming transactions are. There was no discussion about the revenue that New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have raised so far. There was no discus- sion about the geolocation. Apparently if Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) doesn't think it works, it just doesn't work. Yes, this is the same Chaffetz who wants to ban online gaming. And Newsweek just took his word on it! Not one interview with regulators who know this works. This was a hit job, pure and simple. The ass hacks at Newsweek decided to ig- nore the basic rules of journalism when they ran a story that was purely one-sided. Fox News is more fair and balanced than this story. To make things worse, and yes, they do get worse, Newsweek didn't even get its facts right. First, and most importantly, the Wire Act never banned online gaming. Never! The Internet wasn't around when the Wire Act was written in 1961. The Wire Act was written to give the DOJ a tool to help bust the Mafia for running sports betting rings across state lines. The DOJ applied the Wire Act to on- line gaming for about a decade using an opinion. Most attorneys thought the DOJ opinion was wrong. And when the DOJ reversed the opinion in 2011, it was a surprise. But it didn't nullify 50 years of precedent. It reversed a bad opinion writ- ten by the DOJ a few years back. News- week is sounding panic bells where there aren't any. The Newsweek article claims the DOJ opin- ion bans online betting on horse racing. Double wrong! Betting on horse racing on- line has been legal for years and remains legal. Any intern reporting on the industry for the first time would have figured that out in minutes. The story suggests the online gaming floodgates are open. Really. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the floodgates? Wow. That's even more hyperbolic than the ridiculous Wire Act argument. And finally, Newsweek insisted on equat- ing social casinos with real-money casi- nos. Let's be clear, so Newsweek can fol- low along. Social casinos are free, though you can buy fake money and fake chips. Anyone can play at them. They're NOT REGULATED. Real-money online casinos are highly regulated. You have to be 21 or older to play. And right now, only people who are physically located in Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware can play. Do you see the difference, Newsweek ? Social ca- sinos – unregulated. Everyone can play. Real-money casinos – regulated and adults only. They’re NOT the same. So stop treat- ing them like they’re the same. It's not a big surprise that Newsweek screwed the pooch on this story. After all, the same reporter – Leah McGrath Good- man – who embarrassed the magazine with an error-filled and widely discredited story claiming to unmask the founder of Bitcoin (wrong again) wrote this online poker piece. We were originally going to place Goodman on the Wall of Shame. But it isn't her fault that she was given another chance to write a cover story. It wasn't her fault that her editors didn't fact check the story. It wasn't her fault that her editors didn't insist that she produce a bal- anced story. All of that is Newsweek 's fault. Welcome to the APCW Wall of Shame, Newsweek . You deserve it. But because we like happy endings, let's end this story on a positive note. Nobody actually reads Newsweek , so none of this re- ally matters. W all of S hame APCW Wall of Shame