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 entitys 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 were 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, dont 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.
There is certainly no love lost between tribal casinos and Californias 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 states 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 its 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 dont understand it, dont want added risk or simply just want to play the games in the manner to which theyve 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 couldnt 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, its 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) its 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 Pechangas 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 bills text, SB 9s 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 dont 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 cant 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 Id argue that the biggest winner of all is none other than PokerStars itself, who by spinning itself as a company that takes the communitys 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 doesnt 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 Tuesdays 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, hell receive $28.50. Should Player B be the victor, hell 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, thats 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 players increased contribution. Effectually, the rake increases for all players. Admittedly, this is a more elegant and fair solution, but savvy players may recognize that theyre better off not sitting at tables comprised of mostly regulated market players. Again, this is a problem. Implications for the U.S. regulated market Thats not to say the concept of different rake/fee schedules within the same player pool is necessarily a bad idea, far from it. Its 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 Adelsons 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. Adelsons 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 Adelsons 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 Affairs Fabien Nunez who helped spearhead Adelsons 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 Farahis 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 Wynns opposition (which is probably too strong a word to describe his online gambling stance) is based solely on the casino magnates 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 Adelsons 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. Adelsons 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; its as if they are reading off of the same script. RAWA Supporters Sheldon Adelsons 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 Americas 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 bills 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 doesnt necessarily translate into support of legal online gambling (particularly at the federal level) but Sheldon Adelsons 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 Bartons 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 Adelsons 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 Adelsons 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 Womens 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 states 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 Jerseys 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 Pauls 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 Americas 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 hes 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 whats 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 hed 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 hes 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. Theres 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. Its going to be a very, very difficult negotiation and it going to be a long year. Ultimately, he stated that there is a50-50 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 isnt exactly the most positive spin weve 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. Gattos 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 pokers 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.
Desert Rose Bingo has been ordered to shut down following a U.S. District Judges decision to grant a Temporary Restraining Order. District Judge Anthony Battaglia issued the TRO on Friday after determining that gaming at Desert Rose Bingo was actually Class III gaming and not Class II as argued by the tribes. Gaming Ruled Computer Facsimile Therefore Class III On of the tribes primary arguments was that online bingo was Class II gaming. At Desert Rose Bingo, players could chose which games to play and how many cards to purchase but actually game play was to take place on reservation through a VPN style client. Judge Battaglia then looked into how gaming was conducted on Desert Rose Bingo and demonstrations by defendants actually helped play a rule in his ruling. Defendants showed a video of how the games are played and the only actions taken by players are selecting the cards and the dollar amount. From there, the computer plays the game for the user. This was key in the judges ruling because under IGRA, any electronic devices that translates the game into a facsimile of the original game is actually considered Class III gaming. Judge Battaglia was keen to point out while there are enhancements in live bingo halls, the players still have either to track their cards or have someone else track their cards for them. There is some type of interaction required by the player during the game play. At Desert Rose Bingo, the player chooses the game and how many cards they want to play. From there, everything else is done by the computer. As such, Judge Battaglia ruled that the game was a computer facsimile and Class III gaming under IGRA. Online Bingo Also Violates the UIGEA Judge Battaglia also ruled that online bingo violated the UIGEA. He recognized that Indian tribes are exempt from the definition of unlawful internet gambling if the wagers are authorized by applicable tribal ordinances or applicable tribal-state compacts. Even so, the location of where these bets are made is important. He pointed to an opinion letter from 2000 drafted by Kevin Washburn, general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission. In that letter, Washburg contended that because not all of the gaming for online bingo occurred on Indian lands, internet bingo fell outside both Class II and Class III gaming compacts and could be prosecuted by the state or federal government. He even concluded the letter saying, In essence, we are confident that Congress did not intend to allow the play of bingo to be extended outside of Indian lands. Whats Next for Desert Rose Bingo Battaglia has ordered by tribal officials meet with the state to expedite the schedule of a show cause hearing where the tribe will try to argue why the States motion for an injunction should not be granted. If they do not reach an agreement by December 26, parties are ordered to contact Presiding Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes to set a Rule 16 hearing. Unless the Santa Ysabel can convince the judge that their gaming is not a computer facsimile or bingo, it is hard to see them preventing an injunction on this matter. The proxy betting system run by a computer eliminates any true human interaction in the game and really is little more than a bingo slot machine. This also all but puts an end of any realistic hope for the tribe launching online poker in the near future. Not that most expected online poker to actually launch, but if online bingo cant pass a legal challenge, poker certainly will fail. Previous Post Next Post bingo|online poker legalization|santa ysabel 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.
The Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is taking a rather unique approach to poker tournaments, foregoing the massive tournament series that culminate with a Main Event of some sort in favor of a singular, big-buy-in event. Aria hosted two $100k buy-in event last year (one in July and another in September) that managed to pull in 30 and 22 entries respectively, and this time around their upping the stakes, as the casinos latest effort is a massive $500k buy-in tournament with an expected $25 million prize-pool. This isnt just another High-Roller event either, the Aria has come up with a unique name, the 2015 Super High Roller Poker Bowl (the winner will receive a Championship Ring), and is marketing it as a poker tournament you want to see, a destination event, not as a poker tournament you necessarily want to play in. A $500k buy-in, with a first place prize approaching $10 million is enough to pique any poker fans curiosity, but Aria is taking this a step further and taking the event from mere curiosity to spectator sport a ticket anyone would like to have. The Contest Aria and Poker Central have teamed up to create a prize package for the tournament, but its not your typical win a seat prize-package, this is a win a trip to see the final table package. You are invited to enter to win the ultimate high roller vacation for you and a friend at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Welcome to VIP status. The hotel, the flights, the front row seats to the final table, and $5,000 cash to help you Get Lucky. Theyre all on us. The complete contest rules can be found here. Foregoing the Tournament Series Another key, is this is not a high-roller tournament that is part of a larger tournament series; this is a standalone event. The $500k tournament will take place from July 2nd through the 4th, and will be preceded by the Super High Roller Cash Game on June 30th and July 1st, and a Celebrity High Roller Shootout June 27th and 28th. This not only focuses the spotlight on the stakes and the big name players that will be in attendance, it also is eliminates the need for the casino to set aside a large area to accommodate thousands of players and their rails. Why Aria Can Pull It Off Not only has the Aria proven than can host a successful standalone high-roller tournament, but Ive visited many poker rooms across the globe and I can tell you that the Aria is not only one of my favorites, its also one of the best run and has a terrific atmosphere. The entire staff is top notch; both friendly, accommodating, and knowledgeable. They have rules but they are also able to use common sense and judgment when needed. And its these qualities that have allowed Aria to build up so much goodwill among professional poker players. For all these reasons the Aria is simply the right place for such an event, so it shouldnt be much of a surprise that the website already lists 33 entrants, and its essentially a whos who in poker. A testament to the goodwill and standing the Aria poker room has built up within the poker community. Aria is also marketing the entrants, with a website showing the entire list of entrants (including pictures and biographies for each), which currently includes Phil Hellmuth, Tom Dwan, Daniel Cates, Doug Polk, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Ivey. How Big Could It Get? The event is still several months away, and since the tournament will occur during the World Series of Poker (which doesnt have a $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament on the schedule this year) I expect the number of entrants to continue to rise. To reach their estimated prize-pool they would need 50 players, a number I think they can achieve. However, if they can accomplish what One Drop did in 2012, and attract a number of rich businessmen, we might see a lot of tournament specialists selling action to try to grab a seat at one of the tables. If that occurs, the number of entrants could easily eclipse 50. 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.