Dennis Hastert, a staunch proponent of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which hampered US online poker, is now caught in a financial and sexual abuse scandal. The former Speaker of the US House of Representatives now faces some serious allegations that could result in prison time. This being said, let’s discuss more on Hastert’s history with iPoker as well as the criminal charges that he currently faces.
Hastert helped criminalize Online Poker
Before 2006, American online poker players enjoyed unchecked freedoms and could play at virtually any offshore site. However, this would eventually come to an end when Hastert began pushing his “American Values Agenda,” which sought to ban online gambling, rewrite the Wire Act of 1961, and prevent gay marriage. His famous line at the time was, “Through this agenda, we will work to protect the faith of our people, the sanctity of life and freedoms outlined by our founding fathers.”
Hastert’s efforts helped get the UIGEA attached to the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006, which President George W. Bush signed into law in late 2006. Going further, the UIGEA sought to stop “illegal Internet gambling” by forcing banks to deny iGaming-related transactions. Luckily, the UIGEA did a poor job of defining exactly what illegal internet gambling was, meaning some online poker transactions slipped through due to the bill’s ambiguity.
What Hastert is accused of Now
The scandal surrounding the 73-year-old begins with his days as a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois over three decades ago. Reports allege that during his time at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago, Hastert had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a male student. Reports also claim that the former wrestling coach has given $1.7 million in ‘hush money’ to an unnamed male source. The end goal was to pay $3.5 million to “Individual A,” as per a secret agreement in 2010.
The Republican structured bank withdrawals over several years so that no deposit to the individual would exceed $10,000; if a transaction exceeds $10k, it gets reported by the bank. Hastert was eventually asked about these numerous small withdrawals and lied to federal agents about where the money was going.
Hastert, who’s made a fortune through lobbying efforts since leaving Congress in 2007, definitely has the money to pay somebody $3.5 million over time. Now the question remains if he’ll be convicted on current charges of illegally structuring bank withdrawals and lying to the FBI, in addition to potential sexual abuse charges.