May 10, 2013

The legal case unfolded during a period of 18 months and involved two men accused of hacking – they were investigated for employing a software bug to win considerable amounts of money playing IGT video poker. The central issue was whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 was applicable.

“The United States of America, by and through the undersigned attorneys, hereby moves this Court to dismiss Counts 2 and 3 of the Indictment,” stated Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu in a written note.

Video Poker MachinesThe two male individuals, John Kane, 54, and Andre Nestor, 41, are now only faced with one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with their trial scheduled to take place on the 20th of August, 2013.

It all began in 2009, when Kane unearthed a firmware bug in IGT’s Game King video poker machine – taking advantage of it afforded him the opportunity to play back a previous winning hand at ten times the original bet. Nestor joined him as he went across Las Vegas and used the bug to beat the house at several casinos but the former eventually made his way to Pennsylvania, where he stripped a certain establishment of $400,000 by playing video poker against it.

Prosecutors contended that the two men’s actions were nothing less than hacking based on the sequence of button clicks and demanded that the bug be installed – defense lawyers, on the other hand, argued that Kane and Nestor were only playing the machine based on its settings.

“The case never should have been filed under the CFAA,” posited Kane’s lawyer, Andrew Leavitt. “It should have been just a straight wire fraud case. And I’m not sure it’s even a wire fraud. I guess we’ll find out when we go to trial.”

March 22, 2013 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill that legalizes online gambling in the state. Coming as a result of years of debate and consideration, the measure is expected to increase $32.9 billion state budget by around $200 million. Gov. Christie took quite a radical turn in making this decision as he was once firmly opposed to any legalization without vetoing legislation and a public referendum. Being recently pressed by sore budget gaps, he had to give in and avoid upsetting budget hawks. But what would have happened if Christie hadn’t been forced into accepting online gambling legalization without consulting the people in a referendum? Well, the measure would not pass at the moment, as a recent poll found that only 41 percent of registered voters support it, while 46 percent are opposed. However, the momentum is toward favoring online gambling: two years ago only 26 percent were supporting it, with as many as 67 percent against; in May 2012, those statistics were 31 and 58 percent, respectively and now they stand at the above-mentioned figures. The organization that conducted the poll, PublicMind Poll at Fairleigh Dickinson, had its director, Krista Jenkins, give an assessment as to the cause for this shift. She concluded that voters might have acquired new information that produced a change of opinion and/or may understand the inevitability of online gambling legalization and choose to accept it.
Atlantic City Coastline

The buoyant Atlantic City casino district

The poll also questioned people on their knowledge about the case of a federal judge recently blocking New Jersey’s attempt at legalizing sports betting at horse racing tracks and Atlantic City casinos. The state contended that a federal law violated the Tenth Amendment by forcing it to ban such betting and that it unfairly allowed such activities in only four states. When asked about how much they knew about the case, most people were not able to provide conclusive feedback, but 80 percent of them agreed that the issue should rest with the states. Jenkins underscored the importance of so many people being against federal sticking of nose into state and local affairs by remarking how voters from both major parties came together “in a rare moment of agreement”. The poll questioned 702 registered voters by telephone during the interval March 4 – March 10 and had a 3.7-percentage-point margin of error.