Posts Tagged ‘First’

Sports Betting Bill Takes First Step in Pennsylvania

 Sports Betting Bill Takes First Step in Pennsylvania

When it comes to legal news, the gambling world (or at least the gambling U.S.) has been focused on Pennsylvania this year, as it is expected that online gambling will be legalized in the Commonwealth before the year is up. Sneakily, though, a small move is being made to legalize and regulate sports betting in Pennsylvania, as well. On Tuesday, HB 519, a bill which would do just that, passed the House Gaming Oversight committee by a 13-1 vote.

That’s great news, but at the same time, it is a little bit misleading. Even if the bill goes all the way through the House and the Senate and then is signed by the Governor to become law, casinos in Pennsylvania won’t all of a sudden be opening sports books. This excerpt from page 10 of the bill should give a hint as to why:

The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall, when Federal law is enacted or repealed or a Federal court
decision is filed that affirms the authority of a state to regulate sports wagering, publish a notice in the
Pennsylvania Bulletin certifying the enactment or repeal or the filing of the decision.

Sports betting is currently illegal in most of the country, outlawed by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). At the time that law was passed, states that had licensed casino gaming for the previous ten years could have opted to be grandfathered into sports betting, but only Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware chose to do so. Nevada is the only one of the four that has true sports betting – the others have oddball sports lotteries. Thus, Pennsylvania can’t just up and start doling out sports book licenses.

HB 519 would essentially get Pennsylvania ready to launch a sports gambling industry if the federal government or court says that states are allowed. It might not be quite as simple as dropping the green flag and yelling, “GO,” but the competitors would at least be at the starting line.

As such, Pennsylvania will be closely watching New Jersey, which has been battling the federal government, claiming that it has the right to regulate sports betting in the state. The Garden State has gotten its butt kicked on the matter so far, but its case is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. As Pennsylvania is in the same Third Circuit Court of Appeals as New Jersey, it would make no sense for Pennsylvania to take up its own legal fight, as it would clearly lose.

Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Matzie, the lead sponsor of the bill, mentioned New Jersey’s efforts in a House Co-Sponsorship Memorandum he wrote in January:

As you may know, the State of New Jersey has tried, several times, to legalize sports betting. Although their initial attempts were denied, their final appeal was scheduled to be heard by the US Supreme Court on January 17. The Court, however, announced that it would wait until a US Solicitor General was confirmed to weigh in on the issue. This is encouraging, given that President Trump has addressed his stance on the sports betting industry – and his support for legalization – on at least two occasions.

He added:

Our Commonwealth is uniquely positioned to oversee sports betting in all its forms, and should be ready to act should the federal ban be lifted. As evidenced by yet another record setting year of gaming revenues, our licensed facilities are thriving. Legalizing sports betting will simply enable Pennsylvania to regulate a multimillion dollar industry that already exists.

The next step for HB 519 is to go to the full House, but as we have discussed, even if it keeps going, sports betting in the state is far from a guarantee.

Poker News Daily

World Poker Tour Names Linda Johnson First Recipient of WPT Honors Award

 World Poker Tour Names Linda Johnson First Recipient of WPT Honors Award

Recognized by virtually everyone in the industry as a pioneer in the world of poker, poker industry legend Linda Johnson has received nearly every accolade that can be handed out. That shelf of trophies and tributes will increase by one next week when the World Poker Tour honors Johnson with their first-ever WPT Honors Award.

“We are proud to present Linda Johnson with the inaugural WPT Honors Award,” said Adam Pliska, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Poker Tour. “The award represents WPT’s highest honor and will serve as a lasting tradition that allows us to recognize the most important people in our industry and in the WPT’s history. Linda played a unique role in helping shape the World Poker Tour, and she embodies all that the WPT stands for. In addition to her time spent with the WPT, Linda’s extraordinary contributions have helped better poker globally and her efforts have left lasting impressions that will forever impact our game.”

In her usually understated manner, Johnson quietly expressed her sentiments over receiving the honor on her Facebook page. “I am extremely honored to receive this award,” Johnson simply stated before adding, “Have I said lately that I LOVE poker? Thank you, WPT!”

The inaugural award, which will be given to those who represent outstanding contributions to the WPT and the poker community at large, is a natural to end up in the hands of Johnson. Along with being the first tournament director of the WPT and an announcer at their events, Johnson was integral to the actual birth of the poker circuit. Many of the tournaments that are now staples on the WPT Main Tour schedule are there because of the tireless efforts of Johnson, who organized the meetings that brought together the WPT founder Steve Lipscomb and casino mogul Lyle Berman with the casinos who hosted the biggest events in the game.

But Johnson’s efforts in the game go beyond what has been seen on the WPT circuit. The holder of a World Series of Poker bracelet (1997, Seven Card Razz), Johnson published CardPlayer Magazine for eight years before selling the business to Barry Shulman in 2001. After selling what is recognized as THE major magazine publication in the poker industry, Johnson moved on to make her impact in another area, player conduct in poker rooms.

Fighting against dealer and player abuse, Johnson was the founder of the Tournament Directors Association alongside other industry legends Jan Fisher, Matt Savage, and David Lamb in 2001. Since then, that organization has gone on to become the overseer of tournament rules that are used in hundreds of casinos around the world. As the Poker TDA was beginning to take off in the mid-2000s (along with her work in the WPT), Johnson would add another feather to her cap in becoming the chair of the Poker Players Alliance and, most recently, continuing her work with that organization as a member of its Board of Directors.

The WPT Honors trophy will go along nicely with the other awards on Johnson’s mantelpiece. A member of the inaugural class of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2008, Johnson joined her fellow WiPHoF classmate Barbara Enright in the Poker Hall of Fame in 2011, becoming at that time only the second woman ever inducted into that prestigious Hall. The duo is also both members of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame.

Hopefully the WPT Honors will have a better history than another endeavor that was meant to honor the greats in poker.

In 2004 (soon after its birth), the WPT created the WPT Walk of Fame at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. Utilizing the same idea as Grauman’s Chinese Theater – in which honorees would be immortalized through their handprints, foot prints and possibly other recognizable features – inductees into the Walk of Fame sunk their extremities into cement for posterity. The inaugural class that year included the legendary Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen (who was a terror in the inaugural season of the WPT), and actor James Garner (who portrayed cardsharp Bret Maverick in the television series Maverick). Unfortunately, the WPT Walk of Fame seems to have never caught on. There hasn’t been another person inducted into the WPT Walk of Fame since that inaugural class more than a decade ago.

Johnson will be given the inaugural WPT Honors award on February 27 at a dinner attended by her family and close friends. Congratulations to Linda Johnson for just the latest in the litany of honors that she so aptly deserves!

Poker News Daily

New York Online Poker Bill Passes First Senate Committee by Unanimous Vote

 New York Online Poker Bill Passes First Senate Committee by Unanimous Vote

When New York State Senator John Bonacic once again introduced a bill to legalize and regulate online poker in the state in late January, it was expected that it would get through the Senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering fairly quickly. That expectation was correct. On Tuesday, Bonacic’s bill, S 3898, passed by a unanimous 11-0 vote and has now been advanced to the Senate Finance Committee.

The purpose of the bill, as stated on the bill’s webpage on the New York State Senate website, is quite simple:

To authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically “Omaha
Hold’em” and “Texas Hold’em.”

It also “….includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments.”

Some of the bill’s key points:

•    Permits the state to enter into interstate gaming compacts so that player pools can be combined.
•    15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue
•    A maximum of ten licensed operators who must pay a licensing fee of $ 10 million each. Licenses would be good for ten years.
•    Most forms of poker would be authorized, even though the above “purpose” statement only mentions hold’em and Omaha.
•    When and if the bill is signed into law, there will be a 180-day grace period before licenses can be issued and games can start, likely to make sure the state is properly prepared.
•    Operating an online poker site without a license is a crime. Unlicensed operators will be both fined and taxed.

Needless to say, if New York got an online poker industry up and running, that bit about interstate compacts being allowed is enormous. One would think that Nevada and Delaware, who have an agreement to share player pools, would be on the phone with New York immediately to try to get the Empire State on board. As readers of this site likely understand, online poker is all about player liquidity. Lots of players means active tables means more revenue. And the more activity the tables have, the more attractive the sites look to prospective players, resulting in more people signing up and the activity becoming even greater.

The reverse is also true: low activity leads to less attractive poker rooms leads to fewer signups and ultimately exiting players. Nevada and Delaware have fewer than 3 million residents between them (estimated) and can barely keep poker rooms going. New York, on the other hand, has nearly 20 million residents plus tons of visitors for both work and tourism every day. A combination with New York would do wonders for Nevada’s and Delaware’s online poker business.

Bonacic has made the regulation of online poker one of his primary focuses in the last several years, but obviously has never been able to get it done. His bill conquered the Senate easily last year, passing by a 53-5 vote, but was never voted upon in the Assembly.

Bonacic feels more confident this year, telling GamblingCompliance (premium content ahead), “Last year, there was too much gaming for the Assembly to consider with fantasy sports and the efforts in New Jersey for a referendum to put a casino in the Meadowlands, and I really think that it got put on the back burner. So now we are putting it in the front burner.”

Poker News Daily

2016 EPT Malta Main Event Day 1A: Shak, Sormunen Lead First Flight

 2016 EPT Malta Main Event Day 1A: Shak, Sormunen Lead First Flight

It is hard for me to believe that we are just slightly over two months away from 2017. Save for a change in digit, I probably say something to that effect every year, but I don’t know – this year has seemed to just whiz by for me. And when this year ends, so will the European Poker Tour, as 2017 will mark the first year of the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival tours and the elimination of the EPT brand. What I’m saying is enjoy the EPT while it’s still here.

Yesterday, the second-to-last EPT Main Event got underway with the first of two starting flights of EPT Malta at Casino Portomaso. It is a close race for the chip lead; Dan Shak just outpaced Pasi Sormunen, 185,100 to 183,500.

The story of the first day may have been Ireland’s Mahmood Rasheed, who was involved in a number of made-for-TV hands early. I’m talking nut-bar hands that we would all groan at if we saw them play out in a movie. The first hand came during Level 1. According to PokerNews, the board showed 7-8-K-3-K and there were 13,000 chips in the pot. Stephan Zesiger bet half of his stack, 11,000 chips, and Rasheed called after about a minute of thought. Zesiger turned over pocket Threes for a full house, rightfully thinking he had the best hand, but then Rasheed revealed pocket Eights for a better boat. Zesiger was confused as to why Rasheed was so cautious – after all, most players would have raised with that hand or at least not thought about it so long before calling. Rasheed said that he was nervous that Zesiger may have slow-played Kings.

At the beginning of Level 2 with a board of K-7-2-Q, Orpen Kisacikoglu bet 1,500 and was called by Florin Minea. Rasheed, in the dealer’s position, raised to 3,500 and was called in both spots. Another Queen landed on the river and Rasheed bet 10,000 after his opponents checked to him. That got Kisacikoglu and Minea out of the hand, likely to Rasheed’s dismay, as he had pocket Queens for quads.

Then, not long after that, Rasheed was on the opposite end of a monster hand. Five players saw a flop of 9-7-4 and Rasheed bet 1,750 chips. Martin Kozlov raised to 4,800 and everyone else folded by Rasheed, who called. Rasheed checked the 5 on the turn, Kozlov bet 7,500, and Rasheed raised it way up to 35,000. Kozlov decided it was time to go for it, so he called off the rest of his chips. He was in great shape, holding pocket Nines for top set, while Rasheed had Jacks for an overpair to the board. Rasheed was unable to improve on the river and, in fact, lost even “bigger,” if that’s a thing, as Kozlov hit another Nine for quads.

After all that, Rasheed did not survive to Day 2, getting knocked out before dinner.

61 players did make it through to Day 2, though, of the original 134 who bought-in to Day 1A. Another group is at it today to try to join those 61 in action tomorrow.

2016 European Poker Tour Malta Main Event – Day 1A Chip Leaders

1.    Dan Shak – 185,100
2.    Pasi Sormunen – 183,600
3.    Alex Brand – 163,300
4.    Frederik Jensen – 147,800
5.    Ole Schemion – 147,500
6.    Guillaume Valle – 143,200
7.    Thomas Mjeldheim – 139,700
8.    Dmitry Yurasov – 126,500
9.    Aliaksei Boika – 125,100
10.    Bart Maes – 119,500

Poker News Daily

EPT Barcelona Main Event Day 1A: Alex Brand First Main Event Leader of Season 13

 EPT Barcelona Main Event Day 1A: Alex Brand First Main Event Leader of Season 13

The European Poker Tour’s (EPT) Barcelona Main Event kicked off Monday, the first Main Event of EPT Season 13. It was a healthy turnout for Day 1A, as 466 players paid the €5,300 to take a shot at the season’s first big title. The total field should climb well over 1,000 runners; the first starting flight is almost always the smallest. Alex Brand sits atop the 243 surviving players with 178,800 chips.

It is a close race at the top of the Day 1A leader board. Bernd Vogelhuber is close behind Brand with 167,000 chips and after him, there are six players in the 150,000 range: Pael Krasnoselskii (155,000), Michael Addamo (153,100), Dorian Rios Pavon (152,700), Kestutis Gecevicius (152,200), Victor Bogdanov (152,200), and Igor Yaroshevskyy (150,000).

Should brand keep the momentum going and simply cash in the tournament, it would immediately be one of the largest cashes of his live tournament career. According to, Brand has five live cashes for a total of just $ 28,276 (I say “just,” but that’s still eight times more than I have won in live tourneys). Three are for less money that he would win with a min-cash.

Oftentimes, the most significant hand of the day involves the chip leader and is the main reason that person made it to the highest rung on the leader board. Not so yesterday. One of the most exciting hands of the night played out during Level 8. According to PokerNews, Athanasios Fergiatakis raised to 1,900 pre-flop and was called by Koray Aldemir. Charlie Carrel shoved for 13,700 chips. After getting a count, Fergiatakis made the call. That still left Aldemir to act and he decided to make things even more interesting by himself going all-in. After once again asking for a count and then pondering his move, Fergiatakis called, having both opponents covered.

Their hands were good, but worse than you might expect in this situation. Carrel had 9-9, Aldemir had A-K of hearts, and Fergiatakis had 8-8. Carrel himself was surprised to be in the lead.

The flop was J-T-4, keeping Carrel in ahead, but giving Aldemir a gut-shot straight draw to go with his two over cards. A 9 was dealt on the turn, producing a welcome set for Carrel and eliminating Aldermir’s Ace and King outs. It was the Queen on the river, though, that changed everything. At first, Fergiatakis thought he had won the hand, as that card gave him a Queen-high straight, but then he realized it also gave Aldemir a Broadway straight. Aldemir took down the main and side pots, eliminating Carrel in the process. Aldemir finished the day with 127,700 chips.

Day 1B is already underway in Barcelona as a new batch of players has taken to the felts. We’ll check in later tonight or tomorrow to see how things went.

2016 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event – Day 1A Chip Counts

1.    Alex Brand – 178,800
2.    Bernd Vogelhuber – 167,600
3.    Pavel Krasnoselskii – 155,000
4.    Michael Addamo – 153,100
5.    Dorian Rios Pavon – 152,700
6.    Kestutis Gecevicius – 152,200
7.    Victor Bogdanov – 150,200
8.    Igor Yaroshevskyy – 150,000
9.    Jaroslaw Sikora – 139,000
10.    Shaun Deeb – 136,500

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