A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court decision that banned electronic poker tables at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison. The state had contended that electronic poker was Class III gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) but Ho-Chunk contended it was Class II Gaming. The state successfully shut down Ho-Chunk’s e-Poker room in 2014 when U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb sided with the state and forced the poker room shutdown. The tribe fought the decision and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit based in Chicago recently overturned that ruling. E-Poker is Not Illegal So Tribe Must Be Permitted to Offer Ultimately, the case came down to whether E-Poker was a non-banked card game or a house banked card game. A non-banked game would classify as Class II gambling under IGRA and would be permitted at Ho-Chunk Madison. The facility is considered a bingo hall and can only offer bingo style games or non-banked card games such as poker. Chief Judge Diane Wood determined that E-Poker was a non-banked card game and that the state could block Ho-Chunk from offering the game because they do not currently criminalize E-Poker. Wood wrote in her decision that, “IGRA creates a regulatory scheme that respects tribal sovereignty while carving out a regulatory role for the states on only the most lucrative forms of casino gambling and hence the forms of gambling most susceptible to organized crime. States may choose to bypass this regulatory scheme if they are willing to ban gaming across the board. But the states lack statutory authority to deny an Indian tribe the ability to offer gaming that is roughly equivalent to what the state allows for its residents.” It is unknown at this time whether Ho-Chunk will reopen their room, but at least they have the right to do so. Will This Have Implications for California Tribes This ruling could prove beneficial for certain California tribes looking to hose online poker, specifically the Santa Ysabel. They are currently in a battle with California over whether online bingo is permitted under IGRA. The state has forced the tribe to shutdown their online bingo operations due to the games falling under Class III gambling. While that battle is ongoing, the Santa Ysabel has expressed an interest in operating online poker in the state. They contend like that Ho-Chunk that online poker is Class II gambling under IGRA instead of Class III. The ruling by the appellate court could open the door for a similar ruling in California. Should online poker be declared Class II gambling in California, then the state would be unable to prevent them from offering iPoker. Other tribes could follow suit and offer online poker without a bill being passed in the state legislature. The Ho-Chunk ruling could prove to be a major development for tribal online poker in California. Now we have to wait and see how the Santa Ysabel decides to proceed. Previous Post Next Post 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.

There was good news and bad news regarding iGaming legislation in California on Wednesday. The good news is that there was a Joint Informational hearing by the Assembly and Senate Governmental Organization (GO) committees. The bad news is that the hearing was disappointing and did nothing to forward the legalization effort. In fact, one of the key players in the legislative drama chose not to show up on Wednesday. Race Tracks Want to Offer Online Poker – Not Receive Subsidies The only testimony of major significance during this hearing came from Rick Baedeker, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board. He spoke at length and argues that race tracks should be included in any iPoker legislation in the state. Baedeker testified that horse racing wagering has declined by 45% thanks to the popularity of other forms of gambling in California. The industry held a monopoly on the gambling industry in the state for 40 years. He also testified that over 26% of horse racing’s revenue is through internet gambling. Where some have suggested that the horse racing industry receive a subsidy over being allowed to participate in iGaming, Baedeker believes that horse racing should get more respect. According to Baedeker, “Given its long history in the state, deep routes in the California greenbelt, and 13 years of legal online wagering, racing should receive every consideration to participate in Internet poker if it becomes a reality here in California.” The horse racing industry provides over $2.5 billion to California economy annually and provides over 50,000 jobs to residents. Hall Was Apathetic and So Seemed The Committee One notable absence from the hearing was Senate GO Chairman Isadore Hall, III. Chris Grove of Online Poker Report mentioned via Twitter that Hall was not in attendance and that SB278 was dead, sparking an interesting replay by Hall: Hall’s lack of interest in the hearing seemed to spread to the rest of the committee as later reported by Grove via Twitter: One has to wonder whether the apathy of Hall and the other committee members was because they were “up to speed” on the issues or maybe they are resigned to the bill not passing this year. It would seem that lawmakers would have at least faked interest considering the fact that time is beginning to run out on passing a bill this year. Is More of the Same to Be Expected in Future Hearings? Two hearings remain this summer for iGaming. The first is another “Informational Hearing” by the Joint Go Committees. One has to wonder whether this will be another dud of a hearing or if some serious matters are discussed during this hearing. The last hearing is on July 8 by the Assembly GO Committee. It will discuss AB 9 and AB 167. Some believe this could be the most important hearing this summer and could determine whether or not a bill will be voted upon in 2015. Of course, there’s still a lot that can happen between now and July. AB 431 still needs to be filled out and there’s still the outside chance that issues could be negotiated to a successful conclusion by both the horse racing industry and the Pechanga. However, if today’s hearing is a sign of what’s to come, this may be an issue we are discussing in June – of 2016. 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.

Earlier this month, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians started a statewide smear campaign against PokerStars and bad actors, calling them scam artists among other things. PokerStars and their coalition have decided to fight back and have launched a new site to try to help push iPoker legislation forward in the Golden State. The new site title Californians for Responsible iPoker has officially launched and is a joint venture between PokerStars, the Morongo and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Commerce Casino, the Bicycle Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino. Site Stresses Consumer Protection and Regulatory Oversight Under the section entitled “What We Stand For,” the coalition outlines their Principles for Establishing Online Poker in California. Those principles include the following: • Making the marketplace inclusive
• Extending California strict consumer protection to online poker
• Ensuring that the state and citizens benefit from online poker
• Using the same process to determine suitability for online poker providers as has been used for B&M casinos
• Regulators should be the ones determining suitability “10 Reasons We Want iPoker in California.” This list is being presented as a positive spin on online poker, making PokerStars and similar providers look like champions for jobs and safe gaming. Among the ten reasons, the ones that will likely garner the most attention are: • Wanting to keep children safe – they point to protocols used in legalized markets to prevent underage gambling
• Hundreds of millions of dollars for the state – while estimates vary, California is projected to make in the $400 million range in a mature market.
• Job creation – online poker can create jobs in a variety of areas and that’s not considering ancillary jobs created after the fact
• Good for state card rooms and casinos – online poker in regulated markets leads to greater awareness of the products and more patrons in B&M establishments. Website Announces PokerStars Pro Tour The website also announced the “PokerStars Pro Tour” that promises to bring members of Team PokerStars to card rooms throughout California. Some of the names listed on the site include Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu. You may remember that Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville were part of the technology demonstration held on May 21 in Sacramento. In addition to discussing online poker, the pair also played in free money games to demonstrate the PokerStars client. No upcoming events are listed but card rooms can contact the coalition to bring PokerStars to their area. Likely Too Late to Make a Difference in 2015 – But Could Influence 2016 Recent reports point to online poker legislation possibly being shelved in 2015. Even if it AB 431 isn’t shelved, the divide between stakeholders appears too wide to breach in 2015. As such, this new initiative by the PokerStars Coalition will likely have little impact on the chances of passing a bill this year. However, this is a smart long-term move for the company as it begins a positive propaganda tour for the company. It is likely that some card rooms will take advantage of having PokerStars come to their casino and this will lead to greater dialogue. While the launching of this site doesn’t make online poker passage a sure thing in 2016, it improves the chances by double digits or more. The next few months will be interesting as the propaganda blitz from both sides continues. Previous Post Next Post 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.

While there has been little progress in the last week in California, there has been some major news from New York and New Jersey. PokerStars is still on pace to launch in the Fall of this year according to Amaya, Inc CEO David Baazov. Meanwhile, New York has submitted their latest attempt to legalize online poker. The new bill is similar to last year’s bill but lacking the dreaded “bad actor” clause. Finally, a group of NY State Senators are urging New York congressional officials to block RAWA. PokerStars Still on Pace for Q3 Approval PokerStars is still on pace to launch in New Jersey sometime this fall, at least that’s what Amaya CEO David Baazov recently told investors. On Thursday, Amaya, Inc. held their Q1 2015 earnings call and one of the topics of discussion was PokerStars’ pending acceptance and launch in New Jersey. Baazov reiterated during the call that the company was still anticipating a Q3 launch of PokerStars in New Jersey later this year. This is in line with what the company revealed at the end of March during their Q4 2014 earnings call. Later in the call, Baazov offered commentary regarding the company’s chances in California. Unlike New Jersey, they are taking a more cautious view regarding California. While he said that the company was pleased with the efforts underway and “excited about the momentum we see,” he failed to give any estimates on whether online poker would be legalized anytime soon. New York Finally Files Online Poker Bill Back in January, a new online poker bill was promised in the Empire State but zero progress has been reported since. That changed on Friday when it was revealed that State Senator John Bonacic submitted S 5302 in the New York Senate. This is the state’s second attempt to legalize online poker. The new bill is almost identical to last year’s bill with one massive exception. This time around, the bill lacks a bad actor clause. With the changing landscape of the iGaming industry, the dropping of the clause seems appropriate and likely necessary should New York ever have any chance of passing a bill. Other key items on the bill remain the same. There will only be 10 licenses up for grabs with each licensee having to pay $10 million each for a 10-year license. Afterwards, providers will be taxed 15% of GGR. It is unlikely that we will see any significant movement on this bill because the end of the legislative session is just a month away. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow claimed back in January that hearings were possible on a new bill, but it is hard to see that even happening with so little time remaining in the session. New York Senators Urge Congress to Block RAWA According to the NY Daily News, a group of NY State Senators are urging congressional officials to block RAWA. The New York state Senate Independent Democratic Conference recently sent a letter to the New York congressional delegation asking them to block the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. The five Senators attached to the bill are Tony Avella (D-Queens), Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), David Carlucci (D-Rockand County), Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) and David Valesky (D-Syracuse). According to the letter, the Senators believe that the legislation would trample on state rights and prohibit the state from offering online lottery games. The state currently offers online Lotto, Mega Millions and Cash for Life. Horse-racing fans can also wager online. The Senators further argued that RAWA would prevent the Empire State from joining other states in spreading online poker, a move that could cost the state new jobs and tax revenue. They believe that RAWA, “usurps New York’s ability to determine for itself what forms of gambling are authorized within the state, a right which New York and every other state has historically exercised.” Ultimately, the group doesn’t specifically outline a position for or against online gambling but rather that they believe that the choice should be left to states and not the federal government. Previous Post Next Post new jersey|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.

If there was any doubt regarding the stance of certain tribes regarding bad actors in California, a recent radio ad has erased all of it. As first reported on Online Poker Report, an ad recently released by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians throws down the virtual gauntlet at iPoker supporters in the state. The ad is an outright attack against PokerStars and its parent company Amaya and has clearly been released as a way to try to sway public opinion against the world’s largest poker site. Viejas Pulled No Punches in Ad Taking a page out of the Sheldon Adelson playbook, the Viejas have taken facts and spun them in a way to make them fit their view of PokerStars and their parent company Amaya. The ad starts out by blatantly calling the company an internet scam artist and immediately transitions into the Black Friday charges against PokerStars. They next point out that they paid “$731 million to avoid criminal conviction.” Next, they attack Amaya, Inc for the recent raid of the company stemming from the AMF investigation of the company’s purchase of PokerStars last year. Finally, they use a fear tactic that PokerStars can gain access to “every computer, tablet and smartphone in the state” if they are allowed to offer online poker. Clever Tactics that Could Sway Voters The bad part about this ad is that it is worded in such a way that it will likely influence voters. If one were to do a minimal amount of research on PokerStars, they would discover that technically everything stated in the ad was true regarding the charges levied and the money paid to the DOJ. For those pointing out that PokerStars didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, the average listener will be of the opinion of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The Amaya raid is also technically true despite the fact that it has yet to produce formal charges and the investigation itself is somewhat common after certain acquisitions. The part that is less likely to be investigated and will probably be assumed true is the claim that PokerStars will gain access to every computerized device in the state. Those unfamiliar with the technology or technologically challenged will assume that the matter will be true and fear will take over their better judgment. We’re not saying that we agree with what the ad states, but rather that the Viejas took about the best approach they could to sway voters to their side. The text of the radio spot is below: The California Legislature should be trying to stop internet scam artists and con men. We deserve to be protected from corrupt companies like PokerStars, which was indicted by the U.S. Government for illegal gambling, bank fraud and money laundering. And paid $731 million to avoid criminal conviction. PokerStars parent company recently had its headquarters raided as part of an investigation into violations of securities laws, but this hasn’t stopped PokerStars from lobbying out state legislature to allow them to participate in online poker here in California, gaining access to every computer, tablet and smartphone in the state. This is not right, and we deserve better. Please go to findyourep.legislature.ca.gov to contact your state legislator and tell them to keep bad actors like PokerStars out of AB431 and out of California. Paid for by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Previous Post Next Post amaya|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.

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.

It appears that the rumors of a Pechanga-PokerStars alliance were false. According to comments made by the Pechanga during GiGse earlier this week, the tribe not only has not entered into any type of partnership but their stances regarding bad actors and racetrack participation have not changed in the slightest. For weeks there have been rumors that the coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians had softened their stance on bad actors and was working on forming a partnership with PokerStars to possible hasten the online poker legislation. Pechanga Still Does Not Support PokerStars in CA GiGse 2015 was held earlier this week at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, CA. Internet gaming’s elite were in attendance to discuss all matters related to iGaming, including online poker legislation in California. The California Panel on Tuesday proved to be quite informative but also showed that little progress has been made towards iPoker legislation in the state. This was most evident by the testimony given by Mark Macarro, Tribal Chairman for the Pechanga. Macarro made it clear that the Pechanga do not support any bill that would allow PokerStars into the state. He followed this up stating that the blogs and rumors of a partnership with PokerStars were untrue, stating, “unequivocally that Pechanga has never suggested an alliance with PokerStars to get a bill done. In addition, they still do not support the inclusion of either PokerStars or state racetracks. Macarro continued to contend that their position on racetracks comes from their belief that online poker is an expansion of gambling. The state constitution forbids any expansion of gambling by racetracks and such measures have been defeated in the past. Pechanga “Support” Online Poker But on Their Terms Pechanga made it clear that they support online poker in the state, but it must be on their terms. This means an online poker market devoid of racetracks and of PokerStars. Macarro stated that the coalition has no intention of changing their view on PokerStars or bad actors. Macarro also made an interesting point to certain analysts that have questioned whether the Pechanga actually wanted online poker in the state. He pointed out that if the Pechanga were opposed to online poker, they would have aligned with Sheldon Adelson rather than stand their ground on bad actors and racetracks. Instead, they are looking for “the right fit” for their concerns. The Pechanga have also been discussing their own potential solution to the issues. Macarro shared that they have recently discussed a united coalition of tribes that could move forward iPoker legislation without racetracks. Of course, if such a coalition were to push through a bill without addressing racetrack concerns, Governor Jerry Brown has promised to veto the bill. While other stakeholders expressed hope that a compromise can be reached in this process, it appears unlikely that one will be made this year. The Poker Players Alliance tweeted the following regarding what they heard during the CA Panel at GiGse 2015: As long as the Pechanga continue to hold fast to their opposition of bad actors and racetrack participation, online poker legislation in the state will stall. Some are now saying that 2020 is the earliest we can expect online poker in the state. Photo credit: LA.com 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.

Online poker legislation in California is on the brink of stalling out yet again following a stern letter addressed by the Pechanga coalition to Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. The letter addresses AB 167, the online poker bill currently sponsored by Jones-Sawyer. It tries to paint the bill as a flawed piece of legislation and the coalition reiterated their opposition to the two main issues that have stalled legislation in the last three years. Beating a Horse that Will Not Die The long winded letter to Jones-Sawyer addressed the two issues that the Pechanga have been championing for years. The first is their opposition to horse racetracks being permitted to participate in legalized online poker. They believe that online poker represents an “expansion of gambling” on the part of the racetracks and claim that citizens have already voted against this measure. Next, they turn their attention to bad actors and tainted assets. The main target of course is Amaya and PokerStars. PokerStars is teamed with a coalition headed by the Morongo Tribe and three of the state’s largest card rooms. As always, the issue is PokerStars’ continued operations in the United States following the passage of the UIGEA. The Pechanga support a bad actor clause that would ban their participation. To further this desire, they also want to ban companies such as Amaya that have purchased assets from companies that operated after the passage of the UIGEA. Amaya bought PokerStars last year and are trying to bring them into the U.S. Sadly, this is not a new issue. Thomas Adams of OnlinePokerCalifornia.org put together an inforgraphic on the back-story of online poker legislation in California dating back to 2009. You will notice the dissolution of California Online Poker Association back in 2012 due to the inability of tribes to reach a consensus on the game. Continued Stubbornness Slowly Killing Momentum in 2015 Heading into the New Year, many thought that this would finally be the year online poker would be passed in California. After what was viewed as significant progress in 2014 and the softening of views by some on the bad actor clause, the outlook was positive. Unfortunately, the Pechanga have proven to be a tough adversary to persuade and some already view 2015 as a lost cause. One of those with such a view is AB 9 sponsor Assemblyman Mike Gatto. Earlier this month he revealed that he thought online poker had a 50-50 shot at passing in 2015. Now he believes that the odds of it passing are 35% by 2016. This pessimism appears to be a growing trend as an anonymous state official recently told Pechanga.net that a bill would not be possible without the support of the Pechanga. The Pechanga have claimed in the past that they prefer to abandon the issue of online poker rather than compromise their principles regarding bad actors and racetracks. So far, they are sticking to their guns, and it is delaying legislation that could help the state. A different approach is needed to resolve this, but does one exist that would satisfy most major stakeholders? Previous Post Next Post amaya|California Online Poker|Mike Gatto|morongo|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.

California isn’t the only state where online gaming bills were introduced in early 2015, but as it stands the Golden State is the only one with an active online gaming bill following the scrapping of Mississippi’s online gaming bill and Washington State’s online poker bill. Neither state was considered a solid candidate for online gaming expansion in 2015, but there was some level of optimism, particularly in Washington State once the bills were introduced into the legislatures. Now iGaming expansion in 2015 will once again fall on California, and perhaps Pennsylvania, although the state has yet to see an online gaming bill introduced during this legislative session. Washington State: Undoing an Overreaching Law Washington State’s only poker efforts were spearheaded by poker advocate Curtis Woodard, who has spent the better part of the last five years embarking on what many considered little more than a fool’s errand. Woodard, and his grassroots lobbying group, the Washington Internet Poker Initiative, have been calling for the state legislature to overturn a 2006 law that made playing online poker a felony in the Evergreen State. Initially they were unable to gain any momentum in the legislature, so Woodard and company adopted a new approach in 2013, attempting to get online poker on the ballot as an initiative, and thereby forcing the legislature to deal with the issue. When the ballot initiative fell short many would have packed it in, having giving it the old college try, but not Woodard. Woodard went back to the drawing board and came up with another bill draft (which would eventually become HB 1114), and in 2015 his proposed legislation finally found a champion in the Washington State legislature in the form of Representative Sherry Appleton. Appleton introduced the bill in January, but was unable to garner enough support for a hearing prior to the legislative deadline, effectively ending any online poker legislative hopes for 2015. Woodard is already looking ahead to next year, and considering his history of stick-to-itiveness and the progress made in 2015, there is a good chance even more progress will be made on this front in 2016. Mississippi: If at first You Don’t Succeed… Since the Department of Justice effectively shutdown the online poker industry in the United States in April of 2011, Mississippi Representative Bobby Moak has been touting the potential of legalized iGaming in the state. Since 2012 Moak has been advocating for the state to expand into online gambling, and in what has become a yearly ritual, Moak introduced a bill to legalize online gambling in Mississippi this year, dubbed The Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act Of 2015. Unfortunately, like all of his previous attempts, Moak’s 2015 online gaming bill was unable to make it out of committee and simply withered and died on the vine. Still, don’t expect Moak to give up. I fully expect Representative Moak to introduce the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2016 next January, particularly if Mississippi’s gaming industry continues to see their revenues dip. As in other locales, Mississippi’s brick & mortar casino industry has been on the decline in recent years (two casinos were shuttered in 2014); this despite an expansion of land-based gaming in 2005 – this expansion was extremely successful as it helped the Gulfport area recover following Hurricane Katrina. Moak sees online gaming as a way to further bolster the land-based gaming industry – something he claims his republican colleagues don’t have the necessary level of concern about. In a recent interview with PokerNews.com, Moak brushed aside one of the primary complaints of online gaming expansion: The underwhelming revenue numbers generated in the three states with legalized online gambling, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. In the interview Moak stated, “We all know the numbers weren’t as huge as some people thought they would be, but my position on Internet gaming is just to give the industry options it needs in this changing market.” Moak may have some added ammunition in 2016, as Mississippi commissioned an online gambling study last year – the report has been submitted according to multiple sources – but the findings have yet to be made publicly available. Based on similar reports in other states like Pennsylvania, the findings should paint a positive picture of the potential impact of online gambling in Mississippi, and help bolster Moak’s arguments. Is 2015 THE YEAR for California? With Washington State and Mississippi seeing their attempts at online expansion fall by the wayside the full attention of the industry will immediately turn back to California. While many people will say everything is lined up for something to get done in 2015 (an off-election year) there are still some serious issues to be resolved in California, and as we’ve already seen with AB 9 and AB 167, one group comes out in support while the other vilifies the bill. Previous Post Next Post California|California Online Poker|online poker legalization|online poker regulation 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.

California has been trying to expand into online poker since 2009, and this year the California Assembly has two online poker bills to choose from, with the potential for even more to be introduced in the future. Both bills, AB 9 and AB 167, seek to accomplish the same thing, legalizing online poker in California, but there are several clear demarcation points between the two bills. If the California legislature is serious about passing an online poker bill in 2015 they will first have to choose from these two bills, from there they will have to agree to amendments and compromises, and from there they would have to do something they haven’t managed to do up to this point, take a vote on the measure. The basics of AB 9 and AB 167 The first bill, AB 9, was introduced by Mike Gatto back in December, before the legislature even convened for the 2015/2016 legislative session. While Gatto claims the bill was not influenced by any particular interests, it did seem to closely resemble previous efforts backed by the Pechanga coalition, as the bill met with harsh criticism from two groups: Racetracks, and the PokerStars backed coalition that includes the Morongo and San Manuel tribes, and the Bicycle, Commerce, and Hawaiian Gardens casinos. The second bill, AB 167, introduced by Reggie Jones-Sawyer, also received its fair share of criticism, but this time the complaints came from the other side, as the Pechanga led coalition of tribes voiced their opposition to the bills soft stance on “Bad Actors” and inclusion of racetracks. Jones-Sawyer 2015 differed dramatically from Jones-Sawyer 2014 on these two issues, but representing the Los Angeles area it’s not too hard to figure out why Jones-Sawyer would fall on the side of Commerce, the Bike, and the rest of the PokerStars coalition. The bills are similar but different While they aim to do the same thing – both bills possess similar restrictions as to who can play (age and location) and put safeguards in place to protect consumers and insure the integrity of the industry – the two bills are also quite different. The key differences between the two bills has to do with the two biggest issues in the state: Bad Actor clauses and inclusion/exclusion of racetracks. If you’re interested in reading up on these two issues I suggest this column. However, there are several other important differences, as well as an interesting point of compromise. The point of compromise seems to have come about by sheer chance, as AB 9 began with the strange requirement that players must register their accounts in-person at select locations. This provision was something widely scoffed at, and after listening to the online poker industry Mike Gatto amended AB 9, removing the provision, and making in-person registration “optional” instead of mandatory. While required in-person registration (at the home casino/card room, as well as approved satellite locations) is a terrible idea, optional in-person registration is a pretty good idea. It was such a good idea that Jones-Sawyer added it to AB 167, and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t included in all subsequent bills. When it comes to licensing the bills begin to diverge. Both bills lay out a basic framework that would see intrastate online poker adopted by California, with approved entities capable of applying for costly online poker licenses and with a percentage of revenue going to the state. AB 9 calls for a one-time fee of $5 million and a licensing term of 10 years with unspecified taxes paid to the state. On the other hand, AB 167 calls for a $10 million licensing fee for a four year license, and 8.5% of Gross Gaming Revenue set aside for the state. AB 167 is the more inclusive bill (allowing racetracks and any licensed gaming establishment to apply for a license) but the $10 million threshold ($2.5 million per year) might make this a moot point, as the price of entry is simply too high for many potential operators. AB 9’s $4 million licensing fee is far more affordable ($400,000 per year) but the bill is far more restrictive in who can apply for a license, as it restricts licenses to licensed gaming establishments that have been in operation for at least three years. One other notable difference is AB 9 expressly limits online poker to intrastate only, whereas AB 167 leaves the door open for interstate poker down the road. AB 167 is the better starting point In the eyes of most analysts, neither of these bills have any chance to pass as is. Mike Gatto himself has stated, his bill is more of a conversation starter than a finished product. Still, Gatto’s bill, AB 9, may be too cute for its own good, while Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 seems like more of a finished product, but at the same time still capable of being amended. Previous Post Next Post bike|California|commerce|hawaiian gardens|morongo|online poker regulation|pechanga|pokerstars|san manuel 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.

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