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PPA Slams Minnesota Order to Block Poker Websites

State Officials Tell Internet Service Providers to Block Online Gaming Sites


Minnesota is the latest state to receive frightening news in regards to online poker.It’s a dark day in Minnesota for online poker players.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported today that state officials have notified 11 national and regional Internet service providers and told them to block access to nearly 200 online gaming sites for all Minnesota-based computers.

The Poker Players Alliance Minnesota State Director Matt Werden immediately issued a scathing response to the news:

“This isn’t simply a heavy-handed tactic by the government; this is a clear misrepresentation of federal law, as well as Minnesota law, used in an unprecedented way to try and censor the Internet. I don’t know what U.S. Code they’re reading, but it is not illegal to play this great American pastime online, and we’re calling their bluff.

“The fact is, online poker is not illegal, it’s not criminal, and it cannot be forcibly blocked by a state authority looking to score some political points. What are they going to do when this fails, ban poker books and burn our players at the stake?

“We see headlines like this coming from communist China but never expect that it could happen here in Minnesota…”

Weden said the PPA, poker’s leading advocacy group, would fight the order.

The sudden move was issued by John Willems, the director of the state’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.

“We are putting site operators and Minnesota online gamblers on notice and in advance,” Willems told the Star-Tribune. “State residents with online escrow accounts should be aware that access to their accounts may be jeopardized and their funds in peril.”

Willems claims that since there isn’t a law that authorizes online gaming, it is therefore illegal.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, often cited as the law that severely hampered the poker industry, does not criminalize online poker. Rather, it makes it illegal for banks and payment processors to transfer funds to online casinos, and vice versa.

Willems, however, is using a pre-Internet federal law from 1961 — U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 1084 — to support his actions. That section of law gives states the power to control illegal gambling activities.

It is unclear whether or not the Internet service providers — which include Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Direct TV, and Sprint/Nextel, among others — will abide by this order. The Star-Tribune quoted a skeptical Minnesota attorney, Gabe Holloway, who said that he expected the companies to fight the order because they didn’t want to change their business practices for a single state.

This is not the first time a state government has tried to seize control of the Internet in regard to online gaming. Kentucky government officials have attempted to seize the domain certificates of online gaming companies in its state, but the ruling in that case is still pending at the state’s Supreme Court.

The PPA is encouraging its members and all people who are committed to online poker to write a letter to their Minnesota representatives, expressing their outrage concerning today’s developments.

Tags: poker law


over 12 years ago

Minnesota SUCKS ANYWAYS!!!


over 12 years ago

BAN THE S--T!!! I'm f--king sick of poker!


over 12 years ago

This is a dark day for the american dream... not just poker players. NH BRA ( is based in Minnesota and legally monitors the traffic and revenue of online poker networks, yet this ban would unfairly disrupt perfectly legitimate activity such as tracking and observation. Shame on Mr. Willems for stomping on the freedoms of hard working citizens for political gain.


over 12 years ago

I hear ya Max, but it's not about the poker, it's about freedom. 1st poker then what???? Ban on reading political information on the internet or a ban on renting "R" rated movies thru Netflix?? We The People need to stop this NOW!!! I'm over 18 and FREE!!!! Nuff Said.


over 12 years ago

"Willems claims that since there isn’t a law that authorizes online gaming, it is therefore illegal."

Since when do you need a law to legalize something? Laws define legality, if there is no law it's legal. What a moron. It's like saying one is guilty unless they can prove innocence. He's shifting the burden of proof. The tools we elect.