The battle lines between the Pechanga Coalition and both PokerStars and the horse racing industry have been clearly defined for years and there appeared little hope for a compromise between parties. That was until the informational hearing on Wednesday in the California Assembly GO Committee. For the first time since online poker has become a topic of discussion in California, a reasonable compromise was offered to help resolve issues surrounding horse race track participation. More surprising was the author of this compromise; the Pechanga. Pechanga Chairman Offers Two Options for Race Track Participation During Wednesday’s hearing, Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro offered a pair of potential solutions for including the horse racing industry in California iPoker. According to Macarro, “We are realistic about the politics of this issue. That is why Pechanga is prepared to support other opportunities for the racing industry to participate and benefit from online poker. We respect the sport of horse racing and recognize the importance of the jobs that rely on the industry. That’s why Pechanga can support legislation that specifically shares revenue derived from online poker for the benefit of the racing industry.” For those unfamiliar with revenue sharing, look at the model in play with Major League Baseball. In their revenue sharing deal, the top teams in baseball share revenue with the other clubs, leveling the playing field to a degree. While revenue sharing will never make the Marlins into the Yankees, sometimes it is enough to help a smaller team to compete. Revenue sharing was not the only option offered during the hearing. Macarro also offered an affiliate based system. He stated that, “the racing industry also has the means to enter into private partnerships with licensed operators to participate as affiliates. Racetracks can enter into arrangements whereby they refer their web visitors and players to poker websites for a fee.” The affiliate system is what is already used around the globe by most sites. On the surface, it would seem that the horse racing industry would only get a “finder’s fee” for new players but don’t rule out the possibility of this being expanded into a rake sharing deal where race tracks get part of the profits generated from their signups. Racing Industry Doesn’t Appear Interested but Maybe They Should Be Keith Brackpool, west coat chairman for the Stronach Group, was the horse racing industry rep at the hearing on Wednesday and was quick to dismiss the proposal by the Pechanga. Brackpool stated, “I appreciate the offer made by chairman Macarro, but we don’t believe at this stage that a level playing field would be the other part of the gaming community having a license and determining what morsel of that we would receive. We want a level playing field where we have the right to apply and receive a license on the same basis.” While his position sounds valid on the surface, if one looks at how the industry has progressed in other states, the horse racing industry may want to reconsider. First, consider the fact that despite their increase population, only a handful of online poker sites will be truly viable in the state. Race tracks will have a hard time competing against established brands and could put up substantial funding towards profits they may never achieve. Serving as an affiliate would be among the most cost effective solutions that they could employ as they could choose which online partner they want to support and then focus their marketing towards that avenue. They can also work with their partners to maximize promotions and maybe even draw business towards the tracks. PokerStars would certainly figure out a way to incorporate horse racing into their poker games and could be a match made in heaven. The most encouraging news about this offered compromise is that it happened. It is the first time that the Pechanga have tried to move forward in any meaningful way towards a resolution of issues. Granted, there is still a long way to go towards getting a bill passed but this is actually a step forward, even if it is a baby step. Previous Post Next Post pechanga|pokerstars About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

Will a third time prove to be the charm in California? This past week, a third California online poker bill was introduced by two legislators with a significant background in state gaming issues. One Thursday, Assemblyman Adam Gray and State Senator Isadore Hall filed companion bills AB 431 and SB 278, bills they hope will finally achieve a goal set by lawmakers over five years ago. These bills are currently shells only, lacking any real details but both sponsors aim to make the bills the final destination for California iPoker legislation. The sponsors laid out their intentions for the bill in a joint press release. As stated in the release, “The issue of iPoker in California has historically been divisive; dealing legislators, the governor and the public a folding hand. It is time to work together, stop bluffing and take control of this issue. Our bills do not create winners and losers. “Our bills do not take one entity’s side over another. Our bills will give the Legislature, the Governor, tribal governments, other gaming entities, technology providers and the public an opportunity to have an open, honest and thorough debate on this issue.” What Advantages Does This Bill Have Over the Others Filed On the surface, the filing of this bills appears to be a bit of overkill due to the fact that AB 9 and AB 167 already seem to address most issues. However, both bills tend to go to the extreme favoring one side or another. This new bill looks to bridge the gap and make a comprehensive piece of legislation that satisfied all stakeholders. In addition, there are a couple other things working in favor of this bill. First, Senator Hall and Assemblyman Gray are the heads of their respective Governmental Organizational (GO) committees, making them the most qualified among those currently pursuing iPoker legislation. Their understanding of the California gaming market will uniquely position them to work with interested stakeholders. Next, sentiments regarding the bad actor clause and PokerStars’ involvement in California have significantly softened in recent weeks. The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Pala Band of Mission Indians, and United Auburn Indian Community have all recently changed their stance on the bad actor clause and now support PokerStars coming into California. Furthermore, Caesars Entertainment has also reversed their position and now welcomes the possibility of PokerStars operating in the United States. One can also assume that bwin.Party also approve of PokerStars’ involvement since they are partnered with the aforementioned tribes. Bill Could Go to the Wire or Possibly Roll Over to 2016 The last thing that anyone wants to hear is that California iPoker legislation will take time, but that appears to be what the lawmakers are saying for this bill. In their statement, they stressed that the bills passage “will not be a rushed process. Any iPoker proposal must put California taxpayers first and must ensure a safe and responsible entertainment option for adults. If done correctly, this legislation could serve as a national model for other states to follow. We think we can do it and we’re all in to move California iPoker forward this legislative session.” As you can see, Gray and Hall have high aspirations for this bill. Knowing this, don’t expect any significant movement towards passage until closer to the end of the legislative session. Should negotiations move slowly, which could be the case when dealing with the Pechanga; this bill may have to be revisited in 2016. Previous Post Next Post online poker legalization About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

After weeks of inactivity, we finally have some movement on the California iPoker legislative front. On Wednesday, Online Poker Report revealed that joint hearings were in the works regarding internet poker regulation in the state. On Thursday, Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance Inc. revealed the dates of those dates via Twitter: The first hearing, Overview of Gambling in California – Legality, Authorization and Regulation, will be held on May 20 and has a 1:30 pm PDT start time. This will be followed up with a hearing on June 24 titled The Legality of Internet Poker – How Prepared is California to Regulate It? This hearing also has a 1:30 pm PDT start time. Agenda on Hearings Unclear At present, all we know is that hearings will be taking place but the purpose of these hearings is uncertain. Furthermore, little is known regarding who will testify at these hearings. It can be assumed that representatives from major stakeholders as well as anti-iPoker lobbyists will testify at one or both hearings. The second hearing poses a question that many in the United States are wondering at this point. Is California prepared to regulate online poker? Looking at the constant bickering between stakeholders, one has to wonder if these hearings will do little more than shine a brighter light on the issues currently being debated. Did Pennsylvania Influence California to Hold Hearings? In recent weeks, Pennsylvania has been making huge strides towards online gambling regulation. After holding hearings with casino executives in March, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee held their first iGaming hearing on Thursday. This hearing was seen as mainly positive with testimony covering topics including gaming security, geolocation, regulation and even how many jobs iGaming in PA would create. Meanwhile, California has largely been moot outside of rumors and speculation. Pennsylvania’s push to legalize the game may have been an influencing factor forcing lawmakers in California to get the ball rolling on hearings. Unfortunately, there are too many issues currently needing to be ironed out to believe that California will be able to legalize iPoker in 2015. Tribes have yet to reach any type of a consensus regarding iPoker and bad actors. The rumored partnership between the Pechanga and PokerStars doesn’t look to have gone anywhere and some have even claimed that this was a false rumor. Then there is the matter of the horse racing industry. Pechanga is against allowing horse racetracks from participating despite the belief by many that iPoker cannot move forward without their involvement. Furthermore, Governor Jerry Brown has stated that he would veto any iPoker bill that didn’t address the horse racing industry in some fashion. Note that he said address the industry. It doesn’t necessarily mean that racetracks have to be licensed, but some type of arrangement has to be made. One proposed arrangement was to provide revenue sharing to racetracks, a proposal that the horse racing industry is presently against. Granted, the first hearing is a month away and this leaves parties time to possibly work towards a compromise. If California wants to legalize iPoker in 2015, parties will have to move swiftly in order to achieve this goal. Otherwise, they may have to pull a page out of the Chicago Cubs playbook and “wait until next year.” Previous Post Next Post California|online poker legalization|pokerstars About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

There is certainly no love lost between tribal casinos and California’s card rooms, but things seem to be coming to a head, and interestingly it has nothing to do with online gambling. Tribal casinos in California have been highly critical of the state’s card rooms of late, accusing them of offering house-banked card games which would violate California laws which prohibit card rooms from having a stake in the games they offer. In other words, California card rooms are not allowed to serve as the house, they may only collect a fee/rake from each hand. Card rooms have disputed this, saying they are operating in accordance with the law and regulations governing them. History of card rooms and non-poker card games Despite this prohibition on house-banked games Card rooms began offering blackjack and other traditionally house-banked games 30 years ago by developing a variation of these games that allows any player to act as the house. Under this variation, each player is offered to act as the dealer in turn, with the house taking a small percentage from each bet made, win or lose, or imposing a collection fee on the bank for each hand played, not on profit or loss. California Gambling Association President Kyle Kirkland explained the process thusly: What the tribes are complaining about is what happens when the players at the table decline to play as the dealer. Kirkland explained that in these situations, “most card rooms have contracted with a third party proposition player who defaults to the role.” And it’s these third-party players that have come under fire. Third-party banks Obviously playing as the dealer is extremely advantageous, but many players still prefer to only play blackjack against the dealer for a variety of reasons, ranging from risk to the vig to comfort. “This so-called player-dealer position has favorable economic advantages compared to the traditional player position,” Kirkland noted. “But many recreational players decline the option because they don’t understand it, don’t want added risk or simply just want to play the games in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed in other jurisdictions.” What happened was savvy players realized they could maximize their potential profit by banking hired players who would always accept the dealer position and cover all wagers not covered by the players in the game. As Fried explained: For a lengthier description of the third-party bank process you can read this older, but excellent 2+2 post on the topic – the thread is from 2009, but picks up once again in 2012 and 2014, offering a more current view of the third-party banks at California card rooms. Any truth to the accusations? Gaming attorney David Fried notes that the “player dealer games have been approved by the Legislature and in several Court of Appeal decisions,” and that the California Bureau “has approved specific player-dealer game rules for Blackjack, Three Card Poker, Pai Gow, Baccarat and other table games.” According to Dave Palermo of Global Gaming Business Magazine, “Tribes contend card rooms are advertising blackjack and baccarat, games prohibited by law, and using TPPPs to skirt regulations requiring that games be banked by players and not the club.” Essentially, tribes are complaining that high stakes table games couldn’t run without these third-party banks. However, a third party bank must be licensed in California, making it very difficult to near impossible for a casino to secretly bank its own games. While a card room cannot back its own games, it’s my understanding that card rooms are able to act as the bank in other card rooms, and in higher stakes games, particularly with bonus bets, it would be extremely unlikely for any individual player to have enough money to act as the bank, which makes the contracted third-party bank the de facto house. What is left unsaid in the tribal accusations is that some tribes are of the opinion that card rooms are perhaps supplying the capitol (or swapping action with other card rooms) for these third-party banks. The most overt accusation of this kind was made by the the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation said in an October letter to the commission and bureau, according to Palermo: “Not only are the card rooms playing illegal banked games, they are effectively house-banked games.” Final thoughts This will likely continue to be a point of contention as tribes try to protect their table game monopoly and card rooms look for new revenue streams in order to compete with the larger tribal casinos. That being said, these allegations seem to be somewhat baseless, and because of the strict regulations on third-party banks (which includes licensing) it’s unlikely these accusations will ever materialize into actual charges or present the proverbial smoking gun that card rooms are banking their own games – which by all indications they are not. Previous Post Next Post About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

In a surprising turn of events, Caesars Entertainment has changed their stance on the bad actor clause as it pertains to PokerStars. Speculation on this change began late last week after a letter was published on Pechanga.net that outlined the current position of the Rincon tribe. In that letter, the Rincon tribe recommended an approach that looked at each applicant individually and suggested that companies owning “tainted assets” such as Amaya be evaluated to determine whether those assets would negatively impact California online poker. After the release of this letter, speculation started swirling that Caesars may have softened their stance on bad actor clauses. That speculation was later confirmed by Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance via Twitter: Rincon Softens on Uncertain on Use Tainted Assets The new position held by the Rincon, and now Caesars, is a great coup for online poker supporters in California but it is not necessarily a slam-dunk for PokerStars. What this change of heart essentially adds up to is that Caesars is open to Amaya Inc being licensed to operate online poker in California. However, it is still unclear as to whether they support the actual use of the PokerStars client by the company. The Rincon tribe made it clear that bad actors are eliminated once ownership has changed, but they still believe that the “bad assets” should be evaluated. The question now remains how one evaluates the assets acquired by Amaya in determining whether to allow PokerStars to operate. Can the physical client be disqualified because of a prior version operated in the United States? One could argue that the newest client was perfected through operating under the UIGEA. One would almost automatically assume that any client databases would be disqualified since they were obtained under the UIGEA. This means that PokerStars would not be allowed to directly contact former players if they setup shop in California. This argument would likely have the most merit because it would be the easiest to prove. Of course, PokerStars could go the route of creating a new US specific client that is unique from their main client. This would seem a bit redundant but would possibly quell some of the concerns surrounding bad assets. Pechanga and Aqua Caliente Only Hardcore Supporters Left Now that Rincon, and subsequently Caesars, has shifted support away from a hardcore bad actor clause, this leaves only the Pechanga and Aqua Caliente as the major tribes supporting a bad actor clause. While they are holding steadfast in their opposition against PokerStars, one has to wonder how long their resolve can hold. Now could be the time that the Pechanga considers some type of compromise surrounding this issue. While they have claimed that they prefer not passing a law over allowing PokerStars into the state, this stance was taken when a solid number of tribes shared their vision. Now that support is shifting away, Pechanga should consider coming up with a stance that gives them their pound of flesh but gets the legal process moving. Creation of a custom client plus some type of penalty could be one solution. This penalty could be anything from a “fine” to delayed entry into California. Regardless, recent developments give some analysts hope on a law actually progressing in 2015. Progress has been slow but there now appears to be some hope that California residents will be able to play online poker in the near future. The ball is firmly in Pechanga’s court and it is their play. Previous Post Next Post agua caliente|amaya|caesars|online poker legalization|pechanga|pokerstars|rincon About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

On Friday we learned of a new online gambling bill in Nevada that calls on the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) “to adopt regulations which encourage manufacturers to develop and deploy gaming devices that incorporate innovative, alternative and advanced technology.” The bill (SB 9) was pre-filed on December 19, 2014 by the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was also referred. According to the bill’s text, SB 9’s intention is to:
Define and differentiate between the requirements for and the outcomes of a game of skill and a game of chance;
Allow flexibility in payout percentages or the outcome of a game as determined on the basis of nondiscriminatory identifiers;
Support integration of social networking technologies;
Facilitate among enrolled players the interactive and concurrent play of games supported by networked server computers;
Accommodate secure account wagering and transactions using electronic commerce; and
Require, when applicable, appropriate information to be disclosed to a player explaining that the outcome of a game will be affected by skill or identifiers. The bill seems aimed at new technologies, and the new, unregulated areas of the gaming sphere, namely social and skill-based games. However, as Chris Grove noted, the bill would seemingly give the NGC the power to regulate a broader scope of games, including the aforementioned social games, but the bill may also possibly allow the NGC to delve deeper into real-money online games beyond poker. This seems similar to what the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement was touting in 2014, calling on social gaming providers to come to New Jersey and submit their games for regulatory approval. Like New Jersey, Nevada may be trying to outfit their casinos with variants of skill-based games such as the popular Words With Friends and at the same time take on an oversight role for social games. The following passage seems to be aimed at regulating social games (i.e. social casinos) and attracting gaming developers to develop skill-based games that could be deployed in casinos: “Existing law also requires the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt, amend or repeal regulations for purposes of carrying out those provisions… This bill requires the Commission to adopt regulations which encourage manufacturers to develop and deploy gaming devices that incorporate innovative, alternative and advanced technology. This bill also provides that such regulations may include technical standards for the manufacture of gaming devices that incorporate certain features.” Social gaming operators downplay regulation Channeling their inner Pink Floyd, social gaming providers have long held that their products are not gambling and because of this “we don’t need no regulation.” The idea that states would move to regulate social games was roundly scoffed at by social gaming providers and operators I listened to at G2E 2014, but industry analysts have seen the potential for gaming commissions to step in and impose stricter regulations on the nascent industry for quite some time. The products are generating quite a bit of revenue, and in the case of social casinos are nearly indistinguishable from real-money gambling, with the exception that at a real casino you have the chance to win money, something that can’t happen at a social casino. While you cannot win money at a social casino you can certainly lose money by purchasing virtual coins, and in some cases players are rewarded with real-world prizes for achieving certain ranks. It may not be gambling in the classic sense, but it does walk like a duck and quack like a duck. In fact, a number of casino operators also run social casino platforms for a variety of reasons – a source of revenue and player acquisition being just two of the reasons. Gaming expansion on the table in many locales 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for gaming expansion, both online and land-based. California and Indiana have also introduced gaming expansion bills, and several other states from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania have intimated they will be doing likewise. Considering the early introduction of these bills, and the chatter taking place in other states, I fully expect 2015 to be a very interesting and fast-moving time for gaming. Previous Post Next Post About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

Back in October 2014, online poker juggernaut PokerStars provoked the wrath of the community when it unveiled sweeping changes to its rake schedule. Apparently, Stars took the outcries of its loyal players to heart, as the company has recently announced that it will be reversing course on most of the changes, and will not be instituting scheduled amendments due to go into effect this month. Instead, according to PokerStars Head of Corp. Communication Eric Hollreiser, Stars will only be increasing rake in the growing number of “jurisdictions where we have already or will experience increased gaming duty or VAT.” The number of countries that have regulated online poker has grown dramatically over the past several years. Unsurprisingly, the rollback was met with near universal approval from members of various poker forum groups. Winners and losers One beneficiary of Stars’ sudden change of heart are low-to-mid stakes heads-up grinders, who in November saw the rake cap of all no limit and pot limit HU games increase from $.50 to $1.00. Other winners include hyper satellite and heads up hyper-turbo Sit & Go players, the latter of which will notice slight increases to prize pools. For hyper satellite players, it will be business as usual, as the rake increases that were set to take hold on January 1 will never happen. But I’d argue that the biggest winner of all is none other than PokerStars itself, who by spinning itself as a company that takes the community’s feedback very seriously, has in one fell swoop restored at least a portion of its lost brand credibility. On the other side of the fence are Spin & Go enthusiasts. In November, the rake for the popular lottery format SnGs was bumped up to 5-6% across the board. Looks like those changes are here to stay. Additionally, it doesn’t appear as though Stars’ lucrative Battle of the Planets promo will be making its way back into the promotional rotation. Possibly the biggest losers are players housed in markets were online poker is regulated. Unfortunately, legal poker comes with a price tag, and someone has to pay up. And that someone is typically the player. Although as indicated by Hollreiser, Stars’ does intend on shouldering a portion of the burden: Fair enough, but while decreasing VPP multipliers for players in select countries seems like a relatively intuitive and clean solution, how exactly does Stars intend to rake certain players on its .com site at a higher rate than others? Apparently, Stars’ has a plan in mind, albeit one that may cause mass confusion and a second round of community outcries. Different strokes for different folks In Tuesday’s press release, Hollreiser states the following: As I see it, this presents one of two potential complications, depending on which approach PokerStars decides to take. On one hand, if a larger rake is taken out of some players’ winnings, it creates an imbalance in the poker ecology. To illustrate, imagine a scenario where Player A, who is from a grey market, and Player B, who lives in a country where online poker is taxed, are competing for the same $30 pot. If Player A wins, he’ll receive $28.50. Should Player B be the victor, he’ll only receive $28. See the problem? In short, players that live in countries where poker is subject to taxation will be at a clear and visible disadvantage compared to those who do not. In turn, these players must play that much better in order to have the same edge as their grey market competitors. With regards to perceived fairness, that’s a big problem. The more veiled solution of increasing certain players’ contribution to the pot carries problems of its own. In this scenario, grey market players who engage players from regulated markets will feel the burden of the regulated market player’s increased contribution. Effectually, the rake increases for all players. Admittedly, this is a more elegant and fair solution, but savvy players may recognize that they’re better off not sitting at tables comprised of mostly regulated market players. Again, this is a problem. Implications for the U.S. regulated market That’s not to say the concept of different rake/fee schedules within the same player pool is necessarily a bad idea, far from it. It’s just that any proper solution will require a great deal of planning and ingenuity. If anything, should PokerStars manage to get this right, it opens up a slew of possibilities, particularly in fragmented markets like the United States, which will ultimately rely on interstate compacts between states that tax online poker at different rates. A malleable rake schedule eliminates one of the biggest hurdles holding these types of compacts back. Previous Post Next Post pokerstars About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

Sheldon Adelson‘s list of supporters for his proposed iGaming ban is longer than many people realize. His adherents may not have brought along conservative and libertarian groups in the numbers the opposition has, but the individuals who have spoken up on his behalf are not to be counted lightly. Adelson’s staunchest allies in the fight to ban online gambling are the chairs of the lobby group he himself created, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling or CSIG. Over the course of 2014 CSIG Chairpersons Blanche Lincoln, Willie Brown, George Pataki, and Wellington Webb have written op-eds, created YouTube videos, and made television appearances espousing Adelson’s views on online gambling. Adelson has also unleashed his right hand man Andy Abboud to conferences, state houses, and the airwaves, as well as Mercury Public Affair’s Fabien Nunez who helped spearhead Adelson’s efforts to thwart online poker expansion in California. Casino Allies Adelson is opposed by virtually every other casino interest when it comes to online gambling, but he does have one seemingly staunch ally, along with one tepid ally. John Farahi, The owner of Monarch Casino has thrown his lot in with Adelson, which came as a bit of a surprise considering Farahi’s Atlantis Casino in Reno, NV was one of the companies that applied for an online poker license. Adelson also has an ally in Steve Wynn, but Wynn’s opposition (which is probably too strong a word to describe his online gambling stance) is based solely on the casino magnate’s belief that in the current environment there is no money to be made in online gambling. Another strange coincidence is that several of the letters seem to be carbon copies, or at the very least, heavily drawn from others. The Governors The biggest names in Adelson’s stable are the Governors he has recruited to his cause. All five governors are serious political players, and four of the five have, or are rumored to have, serious aspirations for higher office. Adelson’s growing list of governors includes Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor and former Presidential candidate Rick Perry, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and Floria Governor Rick Scott. and have called for a federal ban. Like most advocates of an online gambling ban, the governors seem to have adopted the arguments and talking points of Adelson and CSIG whole cloth; it’s as if they are reading off of the same script. RAWA Supporters Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers are believed to be the authors of a proposed federal online gambling ban, as it closely matches a bill draft Adelson floated in January, called the Internet Gambling Control Act. The federal bill built on this framework was introduced in March of 2014, and was dubbed the Restoration of America’s Wire Act or RAWA for short. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced RAWA into the U.S. House of Representatives and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did the honors in the U.S. Senate, but both are believed to have done so at the behest of Adelson – Chaffetz has long been a critic of online gambling while the issue is completely novel to Graham. RAWA received modest support following its introduction. The senate version of RAWA was cosponsored by longtime gambling opponent Diane Feinstein (D-CA) as well as two republicans, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Kelly Ayotte. In the House of Representatives RAWA support is a bit more robust, particularly on the House Judiciary Committee which would be the bill’s first stop in the legislative process. Original co-sponsors from the House of Representatives who joined Jason Chaffetz in support of an online gambling ban were:
Cleaver, Emanuel [D-MO]
Franks, Trent [R-AZ]
Gabbard, Tulsi [D-HI]
Holding, George [R-NC]
Jordan, Jim [R-OH]
Lankford, James [R-OK]
Matheson, Jim [D-UT]
Smith, Lamar [R-TX]
Wolf, Frank [R-VA] A like number of cosponsors were added between June 19 and July 22:
Dent, Charles [R-PA]
Rogers, Mike [R-MI]
Forbes, Randy [R-VA]
Gowdy, Trey [R-SC]
King, Steve [R-IA]
Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL]
Gohmert, Louie [R-TX]
Richmond, Cedric [D-LA]
Bachus, Spencer [R-AL] Interestingly, a total of 11 of the 19 sponsors/cosponsors of RAWA in the House belong to the House Judiciary Committee: Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), George Holding (R-NC), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and of course Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Previous Post Next Post sheldon adelson About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

The reasons are varied, and their opposition doesn’t necessarily translate into support of legal online gambling (particularly at the federal level) but Sheldon Adelson’s attempts to ram through a federal online gambling has sparked a number of groups to speak out in opposition to his efforts. With the American Gaming Association (AGA) withdrawing from the online gambling debate, the advocates of online gambling are now being led by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), with some help from a newly formed group (created by iGaming friendly AGA members like Caesars and MGM) called the Coalition for Consumer Online Protection, or C4COP for short. Also speaking out against a federal online gambling throughout the year were several groups ranging from the Fraternal Order of Police, to political groups like the Democratic Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries. Most of these groups have lined up in opposition to a federal online gambling ban because their states, or member states, have passed online gaming bills. In Congress, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) continues to be the online poker champion, although Barton’s proposed bill would make online gambling illegal while legalizing online poker. Here is a look at the other individuals and groups that came out in opposition to Sheldon Adelson’s RAWA in 2014. April 28, 2014: FreedomWorks Among 10 Groups Opposing RAWA When it comes to political power on the Republican side of the aisle few groups can match FreedomWorks, and the group, led by former Speaker of the House Dick Armey, has been quite critical of Adelson’s attempted online gambling prohibitions. In April, FreedomWorks was one of 10 signatories of a letter sent to Congress opposing RAWA.
Joe Jansen, Alliance for Freedom
Steve Pociask, President, American Consumer Institute
Michelle Minton, Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Matt Kibbe, President, FreedomWorks
Coley Jackson, President, Freedom Action
Carrie Lukas, Managing Director, Independent Women’s Forum
Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
Tom Giovanetti, President, Institute for Policy Innovation
Eli Lehrer, President, R Street Institute
David Williams, President, Taxpayer Protection Alliance More evidence of FreedomWorks opposition to gambling bans can be found here and here, and evidence of their support of online gambling regulation can be found here. August 22, 2014: Georgia lottery has their say This summer the Georgia Lottery Corporation ramped up their opposition to a federal online gambling ban. Georgia is one of three states currently selling lottery tickets online, and in a letter sent to a US House attorney, GLC head Debbie Dlugolenski Alford, stated a ban would have negative consequences for the state’s lottery to the tune of $39 million. Dlugolenski Alford called online sales: October 6, 2014: New Jersey chimes in When talk of RAWA potentially being brought up the New Jersey Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Assembly Committee passed a resolution (which had been sitting untouched since June 9th) calling on Congress to, “oppose S.2159 and H.R.4301 which would prohibit states from authorizing and conducting Internet gaming.” While more of a symbolic measure, the resolution did get its point across as it garnered some public attention. November 13, 2014: PA lawmaker introduces resolution opposing RAWA A month after new Jersey’s gesture, Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Sturla introduced a similar measure, a House Resolution calling on Congress to vote against any bill seeking to ban online gambling at the federal level. November 16, 2014: Ron Paul’s blistering editorial As the Lame Duck session neared, one of the biggest names in politics, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, decided to go on the offensive against RAWA, penning a blistering editorial on his Ron Paul Insitute website. Paul called RAWA crony capitalism at its worst and made a number of accusations regarding the motives of Adelson and the people perceived to be doing his bidding in Congress: November 20, 2014: 12 Conservative/Libertarian groups join the fray On November 20th a coalition of 12 conservative groups including the ultra-powerful Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the leadership of Congress voicing their “strong concerns” over the Restoration of America’s Wire Act bills.
Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform
Larry Hart, Director of Government Relations, American Conservative Union
Steve Pociask, President American Consumer Institute
John Tate, President Campaign for Liberty
Lawson Bader, President, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
Gary Johnson, Honorary Chairman, Our America Initiative
David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Katie McAuliffe, , Executive Director, Digital Liberty
Jeff Mazzella, President, Center for Individual Freedom
Tom Giovanetti, President, Institute for Policy Innovation
Andrew F. Quinlan, President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity With the addition of Norquist to the rolls of RAWA opponents many felt the bill had little chance to pass. December 9, 2014: Two more politicians publicly oppose online gambling ban While the $1.1 trillion CRomnibus federal spending bill was being debated, Representatives Jared Polis (R-CO) and Steve Cohen (R-TN) sent a signed letter to the leaders on the appropriations committees in both the House and the senate, urging them to keep RAWA out of the bill. Neither representative is known for taking a vocal stance on this issue before, so it will be interesting to see if they continue to fight for online gambling (or at least oppose any calls for a ban) in 2015. Previous Post Next Post sheldon adelson About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

Earlier this month, Assemblyman Mike Gatto filled AB 9 in the latest attempt to legalize online poker. With a couple of exceptions, the bill is very similar to those from the past and one that some feel has little chance of passing in its current state. Marco Valerio of Online Poker Report conducted an interview with Assemblyman Gatto following the filing of the bill. What he reveled during that interview could help to preview the path that this bill could take in 2015. Gatto is Not a New Player to the Issue Valerio asked the question that many of us were wondering in what qualified Gatto to introduce this bill. Gatto revealed that he’s been examining the issue since 2001. He was a second-year law student at the time and had classes covering some of the topics raised by online poker legislation. He also studied papers from various authorities in internet gaming law. Gatto also revealed that he had authored an online poker bill last year, but was asked by the chairman of the GO committee to defer to Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer. He deferred and decided to spend the year researching a framework for the bill and worked out some fresh ideas for the bill. That led to him filing AB 9 for 2015. The Bill is Just a Starting Point Later in the interview, Gatto talked about the progression of bills through the state legislature and how that one bill was modified 79 times last year before it was passed. As such, he says that the current draft of AB 9 is by no means the final product. He called it an “opening statement.” Gatto is also keeping an open mind when it comes to the “bad actor clause” currently in AB 9. He states that he cannot uphold any particular agenda, other than doing what’s best for the state. With that in mind, he wants to make sure that all stakeholders have a chance to participate without the state relying too heavily or favoring one group over another. Discussions to Be Held With All Stakeholders – Including Amaya Coalition Gatto revealed that he’d begun meeting with various stakeholders last year prior to being asked to defer on his bill. He cancelled the remaining meetings but has restarted the process of reconnecting with those stakeholders. He specifically pointed out the Amaya coalition and stated that by the end of December he plans to hold a meeting with them to discuss their vision of the bill. Gatto stated that he’s talked around 40 percent of interested stakeholders and that most feedback has been positive. However, he did state that “there are vast chasms between a lot of different stakeholders that need to be bridged to make this a truly consensus bill. There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot of meetings to have.” Flipping for Failure? Gatto made an interesting statement towards the end of the Valerio interview that speaks volumes about the chances for legalization this year. After stating that he was under no delusions, he went on to say that:”This is a very difficult bill. It’s going to be a very, very difficult negotiation and it going to be a long year.” Ultimately, he stated that there is a”50-50 shot we fail spectacularly once again.” In essence, one could claim that we are flipping for the life of online poker in California. While this isn’t exactly the most positive spin we’ve seen put on the chances of getting a bill legalized, it may be among the most realistic. The question now is whether the chasms that Gatto mentioned can be spanned sufficiently to push the bill through in 2015. Prior to this year, we have had online poker analysts and lawmaker all trying to spin a bill of goods and frankly giving off false hope. Gatto’s approach is honest and straightforward and recognizes the challenges faced by all parties. His willingness to work with all sides and not just take a hard-line position could help shift those odds more in online poker’s favor as 2015 progresses. Previous Post Next Post About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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