Posts Tagged ‘Casino’

Nevada Gaming Commission Bans Marijuana Usage on Casino Grounds

 Nevada Gaming Commission Bans Marijuana Usage on Casino Grounds

Although the state of Nevada has opened the doors for legal marijuana possession, usage and sales inside its borders, there are still laws making it illegal to smoke in public. As far as individual businesses go, they are free to set their own rules regarding partaking of weed. For casinos around the state, however, their regulatory body has made their decision.

The Nevada Gaming Commission last week decided that, even though it is legal to use marijuana in the state, consumption of AND possession of the drug on casino grounds would not be allowed. The discussion, which lasted for more than an hour, talked about several aspects of marijuana, including its current federal status (illegal), before rendering the decision. Marijuana’s status on federal statutes as a Schedule 1 controlled substance weighed heavy on the board members in setting a mandate that would provide the gaming industry with a distinct separation from an illegal substance.

Those discussions haven’t stopped, however, as the NGC decides whether they will need to codify their actions and just how wide to toss their net. “We’ve got some work to do in terms of distilling what is going to be the policy and how it should be manifested,” NGC member Terry Johnson commented. “Is it going to be sufficient to make policy-type pronouncements or is it going to be necessary to adopt rules that put everyone on notice as to what the requirements and expectations are?”

As of now, the guidelines from the NGC are that there is to be absolutely no smoking of marijuana by any employee or guest on casino grounds or in the hotel. Furthermore, gaming licensees (casinos) must not host shows, conventions or gatherings that promote using, selling, or growing marijuana and “should not” form any business partnerships nor finance any companies or individuals involved in the marijuana industry and vice versa. For all purposes, a stone wall has been set between casinos and the marijuana industry, at least while federal law still criminalizes the sale and usage of the drug.

Marijuana and poker (not to mention other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA, or Ecstasy) have had a long association. The usage of marijuana relaxes many people and allows a person (perhaps in their own beliefs) to have a clear mind in making complex decisions on the poker table. It is something that is pointed out in an excellent article on Leafly.com by writer Derrick Oliver Dewan.

In his article “The Secret History of Cannabis at the World Series of Poker,” Dewan talked to three-time WSOP bracelet winner Dutch Boyd and 2006 WSOP champion Bryan Micon regarding their views on the usage of marijuana. Micon admitted to Dewan that he was high en route to winning his bracelet. “It calms me down in big tournament spots like that one,” Micon explained. “It helps me think things through clearly in the face of pressure. In that spot every decision matters, every chip counts. The weed relaxes me. Some people believe marijuana impairs or clouds your judgement. To each their own, I guess.”

Boyd told Dewan that marijuana usage was prevalent on the tournament circuit in the past but even more today. Back when he first started, “I’d be one of those guys running out to the parking lots during breaks, smoking it up,” Boyd is quoted as saying. Now, “It’s not talked about much, but it’s pretty pervasive in the poker culture. Marijuana is part of poker. If you’re ever on the tournament trail and stop in a Tunica hotel room during a World Series of Poker circuit event or in Los Angeles for a stop on the World Poker Tour, just walk down the halls and it’s everywhere. It smells like weed. It’s part of the game’s culture.”

While there seems to be popular consensus for marijuana usage in casinos (at least from poker players), it is plain from the decision of the NGC that it is expressly verboten for now. With the current political climate in Washington, DC, and an Attorney General who is looking to increase prosecution of marijuana usage rather than decrease it, that is something that isn’t bound to change anytime soon.

Poker News Daily

Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

 Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

Ignition Casino and its twin online poker room, Bodog, recently made a major change to their cash game lobbies, moving from the traditional table listing to what the poker rooms call the Quick Seat lobby.

This lobby variation is nothing new; it has been around in the online poker world for years. What makes this interesting is that it is now the only way to find a cash game seat at Ignition Casino. The way we have been used to for as long as internet poker has existed is now gone. No more perusing the list of open tables, no more seeing what the average pot size and percent of players to the flop are, no more ability to open a table to see who is playing.

Now on Ignition, players will just choose their stakes, the maximum table size, the game (Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Omaha Hi/Lo), and game variation (No-Limit, Pot-Limit, or Fixed-Limit). When all that is settled, the poker client will find the proper table and seat the player.

It looks like the idea behind the change is to protect recreational players from being targeted by sharks throughout the lobby. With no ability to find their prey, sharks can’t really hunt anyone down anymore. When they can’t do that, the recreational players will likely not lose their money as quickly, not only keeping money in the poker economy but also increasing the chances that they reload after going busto. Plenty of people have fun while losing money and the longer it takes to go broke, the more probably it is that the players still enjoy themselves.

Oddly, Ignition already had anonymous tables, so it was already next to impossible for any recreational players to be preyed upon. Perhaps the Quick Seat lobby is just a way to cover hat one percent of the time sharks were still able to target weaker players.

Reviews of the new system have been mixed in the poker community. While many applaud Ignition for taking another step to making online poker just about poker and taking away much of the edge third-party software tools provide, others feel the Quick Seat lobby just makes playing more difficult.

The way it makes it more difficult is that most people have certain preferences when it comes to the games they play. Some like starting new tables. Others only want to play at full tables. The Quick Seat lobby doesn’t allow players to choose. Thus, if someone who hates starting a table or playing ultra-short-handed ends up at an empty table, they will either leave and try again, sit out until more players arrive, or play begrudgingly. None of these options is ideal.

At the same time, some players have reported having great success with Quick Seat, especially multi-tablers. Quick Seat guarantees players will get into a game, as opposed to a traditional lobby that often has just a couple tables of a certain type with long waitlists.

Poker News Daily

Bill in Michigan Would License Online Casino Gaming and Poker – With A Catch

 Bill in Michigan Would License Online Casino Gaming and Poker – With A Catch

After the U. S. Department of Justice issued their famous dictate in 2011 that the Wire Act of 1961 only applied to sports betting, many thought there would be a stampede towards individual states offering online gaming and poker to their constituents. After all, with rising budget deficits and few areas to further tax (or to even raise taxes at all), local and state governments had to find other ways to raise revenues for their coffers. As we’ve seen, however, that expected stampede has been more like a Sunday stroll, with only three states – Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey – stepping up to pass online gaming regulations.

This doesn’t mean that other states haven’t at least thought about acting. Some shockingly have actually put up bills (sorry, a bit of sarcasm there) for passing regulations on the industry. But, as of yet, there isn’t another state that has joined the trio from 2013. To demonstrate how illogical it has gotten when it comes to passing online gaming and poker regulations, we look towards Michigan for the latest in the legislative world of online gaming politics.

Until late last year, Michigan wasn’t even on the radar for those looking at which state would be the next to pass online gaming regulations. After passing online lottery sales in 2014, the state sprung to life in October 2016, with Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall stating that a bill regulating online gaming and poker regulations could “still pass.” While that bill did make it out of its Senate committee, it did not come to the floor of the Michigan Senate for a vote and, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t have companion legislation in the Michigan House for consideration.

Now, according to Crain’s Detroit Business journalist Lindsay Vanhulle, the Michigan Legislature is trying to accommodate their desire for more money for government while quelling the cries from those anti-gaming forces who would normally look to shut them down. The plan would utilize the three commercial casino gaming outlets licensed by the state – the Motor City Casino, the MGM Grand Detroit, and the Greektown Casino, all located in Detroit – and the Indian casinos as the outlets for online casino gaming. There is one catch that would make the Michigan online industry much different from the others.

Under the legislation being discussed, those in Michigan would be able to access online gaming and poker, but it would only be if they were physically located on a casino property in the Wolverine State. There are a few reasons for this caveat in the Michigan regulations. One is the state casinos and the Indian casinos aren’t happy about potentially losing some of their revenues to online gaming (estimates say that Detroit alone could lose between $ 1.5 and $ 4.5 million if the law passed). If the players were at least on the casino grounds, there could be revenue generated for the casino from other streams (restaurants, shopping, etc.). This doesn’t make much sense to…well, anyone who is talking about the Michigan regulations.

Since players are already in a casino, why would they want to play online? This was a question posed by David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, when contacted by Vanhulle. “Would you drive to Home Depot to use Amazon to buy something?” Schwartz is quoted by Vanhulle. “I probably wouldn’t, as nice as Home Depot is. I want the convenience of getting something at home.”

The biggest issue seems to be avoiding the constituents of Michigan, however. The state Constitution was amended in 2004 with a clause that required any new gaming expansion – be it live or online – to be put up for referendum to Michigan voters. It would be necessary for those voters to approve of the action by majority vote. The only clause that works around that amendment is if the gaming comes from any of the state operations or the Indian casinos – those arenas can do seemingly whatever they want without approval from the citizens.

Whether this or any legislation in the state of Michigan moves forward is highly unlikely. Although they can talk a good game, politicians in Lansing are going to have a tough road getting the Michigan casino industry to give up any of their profits. It will also be difficult to get through anti-gaming forces, which are being led by anti-online gaming crusader Sheldon Adelson, to even reach the voters for their opinions. As such, don’t expect Michigan to become the fourth state with online gaming and/or poker anytime soon.

Poker News Daily

Report: Sands Bethlehem (PA) Casino to be Sold

 Report: Sands Bethlehem (PA) Casino to be Sold

Neither company has confirmed anything, but reports out of Pennsylvania last week have the Sands Bethlehem Casino on the verge of being sold to MGM Resorts International. According to The Morning Call, which cites two sources for its information, the deal for the Las Vegas Sands-owned casino would be worth $ 1.3 billion. A few weeks of “due diligence” are still necessary on both sides before a formal announcement of the deal can be made, sources tell The Morning Call.

One significant piece of evidence of the pending sale is a leaked e-mail from Sands Bethlehem President Mark Juliano to the casino’s employees in which he states, “We have been told today that Sands Bethlehem has a potential buyer; it is a sole buyer interested in purchasing the property. The sale is not imminent and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done before a sale is final.”

Other than the obvious significance the sale would have on the Pennsylvania casino landscape, swapping out one major gaming player in Sands for another in MGM – and at a very profitable property – one sizable impact the sale could have would be on the future of online poker in the Commonwealth.

There has been a major push to legalize and regulate online gambling in Pennsylvania in the last couple years; progress was made on a bill last year, but a toxic legislative environment prevented anything from getting done. Right now, though, things are looking up and Pennsylvania is expected to see a bill passes this year.

The elimination of Sands from Pennsylvania would mean that one obstacle to legalized online poker would be gone. The CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. is Sheldon Adelson, the bridge troll who is determined to do “whatever it takes” to stop online gambling in the United States. Adelson claims that he is out to protect children and problem gamblers (don’t you love the “won’t anybody think of the children” refrain?), but for years, it has been apparent that he is afraid that internet gambling will hurt his brick-and-mortar gambling business.

There are a dozen casinos in Pennsylvania; Sands, under Adelson, may be the only one that opposes online gambling. Now, just because one casino wouldn’t want it doesn’t mean that an online gambling bill wouldn’t pass, but it is always easier when all the stakeholders are on board. Plus, as we have seen on the federal level, Sheldon Adelson has the clout (read: money) to get politicians (read: Republicans) to listen to him. No, his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) has never gotten anywhere on Capitol Hill, but it has existed, and that means there has been a non-zero chance that online poker could be banned nationally. Additionally, its two flag bearers in Congress – Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz – are two of the most powerful legislators in D.C., no matter how despicable they may be (though I will admit that Sen. Graham’s opposition of Donald Trump has warmed me to him slightly).

As mentioned, no official announcement has come from Sands or MGM regarding a potential deal. Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesperson Ron Reese told The Morning Call in a statement , “Las Vegas Sands is regularly approached about potential interest in various assets. The company has no announcement to make at this time. As always, we thank our dedicated team members for their hard work and professionalism.”

Poker News Daily

Georgia State Senator to Introduce Casino Authorization Bill

 Georgia State Senator to Introduce Casino Authorization Bill

As a Georgian for 18 years now (dear lord, I’ve lived here a long time), I have never been able to play poker in a proper casino without flying across the country or driving several hours to a neighboring state. No, this hasn’t ruined my life or anything – I can do without just fine – but you know, it would be nice, wouldn’t it? With a lot of luck, there is a chance that I may get what I’ve been searching for within the next few years, as State Senator Brandon Beach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will soon be introducing a pair of bills that would legalize casino gambling in Georgia.

This has been tried before, as recently as within the last couple years, and while lawmakers gave it more serious thought than one might have expected here in the Bible Belt, the bills ultimately didn’t get very far. According to an AJC poll, though, 56 percent of registered Georgia voters support casino legalization, so maybe there is hope.

There are a number of reasons why Beach and others want casinos in the state. Without even knowing anything about Georgia, you might guess that they want to keep residents from spending their gaming dollars out of state, and you would be correct. Atlanta, specifically, is also a big convention city, so having a resort-style casino here could help draw more events, or at the very least, get visitors to go out and plunk down some cash during their downtime.

The biggest goal for gambling proponents, though, is to help fund the state’s HOPE Scholarship, which was created in 1993. The HOPE Scholarship helps students who earn a 3.0 GPA in high school pay for tuition at in-state colleges and universities (private or public). Over the years, it has become such a popular program that it has become harder and harder to actually fund the scholarships. Dollar awards have decreased and recently, “academic vigor” standards have been put in place to make it more difficult to earn the scholarship.

The HOPE Scholarship, along with public pre-K programs, is funded by the Georgia lottery. The idea with casino gambling is to divert most of the gaming tax revenue to the HOPE Scholarship to fill in the gaps that the lottery isn’t covering anymore.

In Beach’s plan, Georgia would be divided into four zones: from I-20 (which runs through the middle of Atlanta east to west) to the north, Coastal Georgia, Southern Georgia, and Middle Georgia. The bill would authorize the construction of five resort-style casinos and one horse track. The “primary” casino would require a $ 1 billion investment from the operator and would have to be built within 25 miles of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The other four casinos would require $ 250 million investments and would have to be built at least 50 miles away from the primary casino. The horse track would require a $ 125 million investment.

The casinos would be taxed 12 percent of gross gaming revenue.

It will take quite an effort to get this to pass. Two-thirds of both the House and Senate will have to vote for it, just to get to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk and he is against casino gambling. If it gets all the way through, it will then be put on the 2018 ballot for residents of the state to vote upon. And then, even if Georgians give it the ok, the cities and counties that want a casino will have to let their local residents vote on whether or not they want a casino neighbor. Only after all of that can construction start.

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