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 Post subject: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:00 am 
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The draft bill being circulated to legalize & regulate Internet poker in the US explicitly criminalizes bots with a penalty of up to 2 years in prison. It's unlikely IMO that individuals would ever be charged under the law - more likely prosecution would be reserved for those selling commercial bots.

This is only a draft bill, will be changed prior to enacting, and may not pass at all. Harry Reid is trying to attach it to a last-minute must-pass bill such as the income tax rate extension or AMT extension. Detailed discussion is readily available at 2+2 (more like blathering, 2+2's signal-noise ratio is worse than usual on this subject).

The law would totally reshape online poker in the US. Some of the provisions of the law are being reworked as, as written, all online poker would be outlawed in the US for over a year. Most of the noise on 2+2 surrounds that provision. The other serious problem with the law is that it isolates the US player pool from the international player pool. The US market is big enough to function this way but in general this sort of fragmentation is bad.

For those who manage to not get caught, the anti-bot provisions would probably be a boon as the law would really cut down on the current bot paranoia. All the low-quality bots out there are bad for the "real" botters and for the games overall, so it's hard to get terribly upset about the provision, really.

Text of the draft:
http://media.lvrj.com/documents/Internet_Poker_Act_of_2010.pdf

Page 47 contains the section on bots.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:51 am 
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"No person initiating, receiving, or otherwise making a bet or wager with a licensee, or sending, receiving, or inviting information assisting with a bet or wager with a licensee shall knowingly use, possess, or assist another in the use of, an electronic, electrical, or mechanical device or software or other program or tool which is designed, constructed, or programmed specifically for use in obtaining an advantage in any game authorized under this chapter, where such advantage is prohibited or otherwise violates the rules of play established by the licensee."


The language here sounds very similar to what sites put in their ToS for "cheating tools". It might provide a legal mechanism for enforcing following ToS on sites...I'm not sure I like that. What is considered a standard player aide versus an "unfair advantage" is very gray area / open to interpretation - take a look at any thread where people try to draw the line where something is a bot or just a human with lots of software assistance.

To be fair a lot of this would be unenforceable since sites would have to have an airtight case that certain software was being used if there was to be any prison time involved - imagine if in any bot sweep that sites do it sent everyone to prison...that would be insane - 2000 people sent to prison because some people said that their play styles were too similar.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:08 pm 
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Is that the relevant chapter disallowing bots?

My reading on this is that they disallow all kind of assistance software. So basically all HUDs, PT3, etc. would fall under this too (which basically every player is using). Otherwise I would wonder how do they define bots and what exactly is allowed.

@psilon, can you btw post a link to the 2+2 thread on this?

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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:28 pm 
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The 2+2 thread is here: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/57/po ... ng-930754/ but for once nobody is talking about bots, because the legislation is so bad anyway (all poker in the US is criminalized until mid-2012 and afterward is allowed only on a state-by-state basis).

Assistance software such as HUDs would be illegal if it is disallowed by the TOS. Bots are treated separately and are always illegal. It's all there on page 47. Though as I said before, I very highly doubt any individual player would be prosecuted for using a bot, it is just not worth the effort to the prosecution.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:25 pm 
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There relevant part of the bot exclusion is this: " . . . where such advantage is prohibited or otherwise violates the rules of play established by the licensee."

This basically means if the poker site doesn't prohibit it, it is not illegal under the law. So if a site allows HUD, then it is ok under this law. Obviously, few if any sites will allow bots. Also, this is only the federal law. Many states now have state laws prohibiting the use of computers in gambling. Of course, those laws are violated by everyone who has any kind of software to pick sports bets, handicap, etc.

Bottom line, botting is already illegal in the US for almost everyone so another law is irrelevant. Internet gambling is illegal in almost every state here, yet poker pros openly admit what site they play on and what their nickname is on the site. No arrests are made.

Technically, even after a federal law passes, state laws also have to change. But getting money in and out of a poker site would become legal again. And a lot more fish would enter the tank again.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:40 pm 
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C'mon guys, read the link. Bots have their whole own section making them explicitly illegal.

Internet gambling is only illegal in Washington state and possibly Illinois.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:00 pm 
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I'm not getting it.

Page 47 only says that software that leads to unfair advantage is prohibited.

How is unfair advantage defined? I guess this is simply anything against the ToS? The whole page 47 doesn't even mention thw rod "bot", it only mentiones "software", let alone defining anything ...\

So I kind of agree to BlueSilicon.

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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:56 pm 
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From page 47:

ADDITIONAL OFFENSE-
A.
No person initiating, receiving, or otherwise making a bet or wager with a
licensee, or sending, receiving, or inviting information assisting with a bet or
wager with a licensee, shall knowingly use, possess, or assist another in the
use of any cheating device with intent to cheat or defraud any licensee or
other persons placing bets or wagers with such licensee. A software program
that makes bets or wagers according to an algorithm shall constitute a type of
cheating device under this subsection.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:06 pm 
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Time to incorporate in another country...


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:21 pm 
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psilon wrote:
C'mon guys, read the link. Bots have their whole own section making them explicitly illegal.

Internet gambling is only illegal in Washington state and possibly Illinois.

Only those two states were foolish enough to bother to explicitly pass internet gambling laws. All states have laws against gambling at unlisenced establishments, and all internet sites are not lisenced. So all internet gambling is illegal because it is gambling. No other laws are necessary. For half the states, if you are a professional gambler then internet gambling -- because it is gambling at an unlisence site -- is a felony. The other half a misdameanor with fines that are based on the number of times you broke the law.

Many states already have laws against using computers and computer software to predict outcomes of a game and give an advantage. Most states have the clause "analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game" as a criteria that makes software illegal to use when gambling. That particular clause was taken from NV law (NRS 465.075 Use of device for calculating probabilities), but NV laid the groundwork for the law and states that followed simply copied NV's law after Indian reservation gambling came into existance.

SO once again, the federal law really changes nothing in the US as far as bot usage is concerned. And it changes nothing in the US for gambling unless states also change their laws to make internet gambling legal. State law overrides federal law in this case as long as the state law does not make legal and action that is illegal on a federal level.

I do expect that if the law passes three things will happen: 1) it will be easier to gamble on the internet because many states will change that law; 2) it will be easier to get caught on tax evasion since the poker site will have to comply with feder income reporting laws; 3) It will be easier to get prosecuted for botting since the poker site can report you to the authorities; however, does the site really care if you are botting? ONly a couple do.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:06 pm 
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Actions taking place over the internet are considered to take place at the host's location, not the user's, and are governed by those laws. This is a general principle governing nearly everything with only narrow exceptions. There are a whole slew of activities on the Internet which depend on this principle and gambling is among the least of them - libel, e-commerce and copyright are major examples.

States generally outlaw OPERATING an unlicensed gambling site, not PLAYING at an unlicensed site. Players are doing nothing wrong and sites are doing nothing wrong either, as the games are legal in the jurisdiction where the sites are located.

If you look at the typical state's anti-cheating-device law, it generally governs use only within the public areas of licensed gambling operations located in the state. (OK, I can't guarantee this is true for every state, but it is true for the states whose laws I am familiar with, which are Nevada and a small number of others). This is partly because manufacturers & distributors need cheating devices in order to test and install the games, and because states don't want to get mired in jurisdictional issues. In any case, it wouldn't cover Internet gambling because online games are outside the scope of the law; they're neither licensed nor located in the state. It's also not at all clear that a bot would be considered a cheating device as it can't cheat, except for the explicit definition in this draft law.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:55 am 
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Quote:
Actions taking place over the internet are considered to take place at the host's location, not the user's, and are governed by those laws.


That is not true in all jurisdictions. Where I live the authority is that it takes place at the user. There are also some other jurisdiction where this was held.

Quite frankly it seems to me that many Courts have held which ever view was appropriate to found jurisdiction.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:08 pm 
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Yes, the jurisdiction is the user's location from a state law perspective; however, since the action crosses state lines, federal jurisdiction applies as well. In the US, sports betting is illegal in all but two states because of the Federal Wire Act. The law prohibits sports betting at the state level because the sports results have to be communicated across state lines. Delaware and Nevada are exempt from the law because they had sports betting when the law was passed. Delaware no longer allows it as a state.

The Federal Wire Act does not apply to internet gambling, though (upheld in 2002 in US Appeals Court) because the language of the act deals specifically with sports betting and has no provision for any other forms of gaming.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:14 pm 
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psilon wrote:
From page 47:

ADDITIONAL OFFENSE-
A.
No person initiating, receiving, or otherwise making a bet or wager with a
licensee, or sending, receiving, or inviting information assisting with a bet or
wager with a licensee, shall knowingly use, possess, or assist another in the
use of any cheating device with intent to cheat or defraud any licensee or
other persons placing bets or wagers with such licensee. A software program
that makes bets or wagers according to an algorithm shall constitute a type of
cheating device under this subsection.


This paragraph is a bit crappy.

First (and least important): A software program does not make bets or wagers, it's always you that do this, as a software program didn't agreed to the terms of service for making wagers. So a software program can only assist you in your decision making in making wagers.

Second: I'm not really sure what is banned now, how is "making a wager by a software program" defined? Is it the final click of the button? Is it OK if the program suggest a waging according to an algorithm, but the final button click is executed by a human?

Is it OK if another program makes the click, but does not make a wager according to an algorithm? After all - there are always many programs involved in making a click (including windows operating system ones).

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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:39 am 
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indiana wrote:
Second: I'm not really sure what is banned now, how is "making a wager by a software program" defined? Is it the final click of the button? Is it OK if the program suggest a waging according to an algorithm, but the final button click is executed by a human?
It seems like a program that gave suggestions to a human but required the human to execute the actual bet would be OK under this provision. Of course, I would expect all licensed sites to ban this in their T&C as Stars/Tilt currently do, which according to the law would still be a criminal offense.

There is likely to be an actual meaningful battle around this provision (probably in court, not in the legislature) due to widespread use of things like PTR, which would also be criminal activities under this law. In fact, the operators of PTR would be the likely targets of the law, I still doubt individual users would be prosecuted although technically they could be.

indiana wrote:
Is it OK if another program makes the click, but does not make a wager according to an algorithm? After all - there are always many programs involved in making a click (including windows operating system ones).
I think this is written the way it is to allow for programs like TableNinja which can actually execute bets, but only at the user's direction. Separating the action into two programs would be unlikely to fly as the action would still be executed by a program, according to an algorithm. The fact that the algorithm was actually contained in a separate executable is not relevant.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:40 pm 
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indiana wrote:
This paragraph is a bit crappy.

Welcome to US law . . . the country were a senator introduced a bill to change mathmatical PI to 3.0!


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:16 pm 
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BlueSilicon wrote:
indiana wrote:
This paragraph is a bit crappy.

Welcome to US law . . . the country were a senator introduced a bill to change mathmatical PI to 3.0!


It was an hoax against creationist. But a fun one.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:14 am 
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Another side effect of the section, IMHO, is that a botter, subject to this legislation, whose account has been frozen and whose money has been forfeited, now will have no chance of claiming it back.

IMHO, there is still an argument to be made that a botter can claim his money back after his account has been frozen but it depends on what legal system governs the agreement. Then there is also the economic reality of cost of litigation. However after this act it is clear that in the US this will no longer be possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:11 pm 
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psilon wrote:
It seems like a program that gave suggestions to a human but required the human to execute the actual bet would be OK under this provision. Of course, I would expect all licensed sites to ban this in their T&C as Stars/Tilt currently do, which according to the law would still be a criminal offense.

There is likely to be an actual meaningful battle around this provision (probably in court, not in the legislature) due to widespread use of things like PTR, which would also be criminal activities under this law. In fact, the operators of PTR would be the likely targets of the law, I still doubt individual users would be prosecuted although technically they could be.

I think this is written the way it is to allow for programs like TableNinja which can actually execute bets, but only at the user's direction. Separating the action into two programs would be unlikely to fly as the action would still be executed by a program, according to an algorithm. The fact that the algorithm was actually contained in a separate executable is not relevant.


So,
"Advisors"-like programs (1) will be allowed, and programs like Tableninja (2) will be allowed, but something which is (1) + (2) is not allowed? That makes no sense whatsoever.

I think currently just about anyone is excercising his imagination and want to see allowed by such law exactly what programs he is currently using, and not allowed the ones he is not. To me it's still now ucnlear what is exactly illegal under this law.

Also the phrasing is rally crappy. Like "program executing according to an algorithm ..." - just about every program out there works according to an algorithm.

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 Post subject: Re: Bots to be criminalized in US?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:18 pm 
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I doubt real-time advisor programs will be allowed on any licensed site.

I don't find the "according to an algorithm" to be unclear at all. The provision applies to the decision-making of the bet, not whatever else the program may do incidental to its operation. Think like a lawyer, not a programmer :)


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