Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

State of Florida, Seminole Indians Reach Gaming Settlement

 State of Florida, Seminole Indians Reach Gaming Settlement

Ending a debate that has raged in the halls of the state capitol, Tallahassee, since early last year, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, his gaming enforcement board and the Seminole Tribe of Florida reached a settlement that will have a sizeable effect on gaming in the Sunshine State.

The new agreement will influence table games, which have started springing up in some of the poker rooms around Florida. Under the agreement signed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Seminoles, the table games – which included blackjack and other “banked” games (games in which players played against the house rather than each other) – and slot machines will be immediately closed in the poker rooms where they were operating. That closure gives exclusivity for table gaming and slots in the state to the six Seminole properties owned and run by the tribe for the next 13 years of the compact between the two entities.

“The DBPR is glad that the state of Florida has reached an agreement to resolve the ongoing litigation between the state and the Seminole Tribe,” DBPR Secretary Jonathan Zachem noted in a statement reported by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald. “The agreement ensures the continuity of the current Seminole compact and does not allow for any expansion of gaming.”

What was the driver of the deal? For the state of Florida, it was the money. Under the new agreement, the Seminole Tribe will continue to contribute a monthly revenue sharing program to the state, in part due to the enforcement of the table game and slot ban on non-Seminole operations. That totaled $ 220 million in revenues that the Tribe put towards the revenue sharing over the past couple of years (and an estimated $ 120 million per year), but had been held in escrow while both had lawsuits pending in federal court.

In 2010, the Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida agreed to an exclusivity agreement, giving the Seminoles complete gaming rights in the state. That five-year deal expired in 2015 and, as might be expected, the various dog and horse tracks and poker rooms in the area wanted to find a way to get into that area of gaming. The Seminole Tribe called foul, as the renegotiation of the compact was ongoing with state officials, and the Seminoles brought a federal case against the state of Florida for not enforcing the regulations. The state didn’t roll over, instead filing their own countersuit that stated the agreement had expired and that the Seminole Tribe, in fact, was violating Florida gambling laws by being in operation.

Federal judge Robert Hinkle ruled last year in favor of the Seminole Tribe, affirming that the state didn’t shut down the “banked” games in the non-Seminole operations per the compact between the two, violating the agreement. After Hinkle made his ruling, the Florida legislature considered expanding gaming in the state – and was unable to come to any agreement – while the Seminoles considered the option of withholding their revenue payments outright until the state enforced the law.

The new agreement, while ensuring that the Seminole Tribe continues its revenue payments in exchange for exclusivity on table gaming and slots, also has an effect on another area of debate in the state. The expansion of casino gaming in Florida, which had seen consideration of new casino operations in Miami and even in the family oriented Disney area of Orlando, is now dead. For the next 13 years (the end of the overall compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida), there will be no further discussion of expanding gaming inside the state, keeping powerful casino gaming operations out of the Florida market and in the hands of the Seminole Tribe.

Poker News Daily

GAN Receives New Jersey Online Gaming License

 GAN Receives New Jersey Online Gaming License

B2B internet gaming software developer GAN – once known as GameAccount Network – announced last week that it has been granted an online gaming license by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). GAN initially applied back in 2013, so this has been a long time in coming. The company contends that not only does this now allow it to offer online gaming in New Jersey, but also makes it look better for potential licensing in other states.

In a press release, GAN CEO Dermot Smurfit said:

We have long maintained that a key benefit of choosing GAN is the guaranteed integrity and strong compliance profile of our current and historic business activities, clean source of investment funds and the unquestioned suitability of our major shareholders, directors and employees to be licensed in New Jersey. Here is the proof of those long-standing statements. GAN has been thoroughly and professionally investigated by the NJDGE and we welcome the grant of our first privileged gaming license in the United States. In the heavily regulated world of Internet gaming, the significance of this gaming license cannot be underestimated and is a major asset for our Company and will deliver our shareholders significant value over time.

GAN has already had a presence in New Jersey, as it has been Betfair Casino’s software provider since November 2013. GAN ran slightly afoul of state regulations in the middle of last year when it unintentionally activated a new version of its mobile Android software for Betfair before it had been sufficiently tested, allowing six players from outside of New Jersey’s borders to gamble for real money. Fortunately, the DGE said that less than $ 350 was wagered in total and GAN got the problem fixed, so in the end it wasn’t that big of a deal. Nonetheless, GAN was fined $ 25,000.

GAN also partnered with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to offer its “simulated gaming” product in early 2016. As it sounds, “simulated gaming” is a fancy term for “play money gambling.” Like other play money gaming products on social networks, though, players can purchase additional chips for real money.

Offering play money gaming is not a big deal, but it may have been important in order to get GAN’s foot in the door for a future real money gaming opportunity with Borgata. Smurfit said at the time:

Our strategic market positioning is to serve as an enterprise-level solution for either Simulated Gaming or real money Regulated Gaming and, in certain circumstances, our single technology platform may serve both requirements. In 2016 Simulated Gaming will be served to the majority of Borgata’s patrons who live out-of-State and, in the event GAN receives Borgata’s consent to commence operations is equally capable of simultaneously serving real money Regulated Gaming to the Borgata’s patrons resident in New Jersey.

Borgata’s online poker room is currently powered by PartyPoker, but considering GAN’s new license and the deal struck between GAN and the Borgata last year, could a change be in the future for Borgata? One would think that with WSOP/888 and PokerStars present in New Jersey that GAN isn’t about to strike out on its own, so it will be interesting to see what it decides to do with this new found power.

Poker News Daily

Washington D. C. Reignites Discussion of Online Gaming and Poker

 Washington D. C. Reignites Discussion of Online Gaming and Poker

In all honesty, there has been very little regarding the regulation of online gaming and/or poker in the halls of Washington, D. C. of late. Back during his confirmation hearings, however, the then-Attorney General nominee, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, was posed the question of what he would do with the 2011 decision by the Department of Justice by Sheldon Adelson water boy South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Sessions reply was that he would have to reexamine the decision “at some point in time.”

It seems that, at least in some arenas, that Sessions (now firmly ensconced as the head of the Department of Justice as Attorney General) is ready to reexamine the issue. Perhaps influenced by anti-online gaming zealot, casino owner and billionaire Adelson’s work for the Republican Party (AKA his donation of millions of dollars in “bribes” – oh, wait, “money for the Inauguration” and other political donations), many in the nation’s capital have been signaling that the two-pronged approach – the reversal of the 2011 Department of Justice opinion and the introduction of legislation, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) of 2017, into both houses of Congress – is beginning to move once again. The reality of the situation is that poker players’ attention should be on one and not the other.

RAWA, for all practical purposes, has had no life since it was introduced. Because there has been a significant amount of attention put on “state’s rights” issues, many of those in the GOP have recognized that crony capitalism is running afoot on this issue extensively. Adelson’s legal “bribes,” therefore, have had little to no effect on the movement of either bill in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.

There is also the problem of losing the main champion of the bill in the House. Last week, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz stated that he would not run for re-election in 2018. There has been a great deal of speculation to the reasons for Chaffetz’s decision (some are saying that he doesn’t want to have a tough re-election fight in 2018; some are saying that Chaffetz is actually looking towards a run at Utah’s governorship; still others say that there’s something to the rumors that the FBI has him under investigation for campaign improprieties), but the reality is that Chaffetz was the bill’s main sponsor in the House and was chair of the subcommittee that would push it through. There may be someone else who steps up in the House, but it will take time for them to come forth and pick up the ball of RAWA in the House.

The real problem is with Sessions and the Department of Justice. A simple reversal of the 2011 decision from then-Attorney General Eric Holder‘s Department of Justice – which said that the Wire Act of 1961 only applied to sports betting – lit the fuse for several states to move forward with online lottery ticket sales. Additionally, three states – Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey – moved forward and passed online gaming and poker regulations for their gaming industries (Nevada was the only one that went the route of online poker only) in 2013.

With the potential for that decision to be reversed by the Sessions DoJ at any moment, you might think that there would be some movement by the leading advocate for online poker, the Poker Players Alliance, to putting forth legislation to regulate online gaming and poker through their lobbying efforts. Instead, the PPA only plays defense, saying they aren’t supposed to put forth laws for online poker (what is it that the National Rifle Association or the pharmaceutical or banking lobbyists do? They WRITE LEGISLATION!) despite the fact they say they represent “millions” of players (the level of support for the organization is questionable). Instead of asking those that have moved forth legislation in several states for assistance in writing a potential federal bill, the PPA stays on defense instead of taking a proactive stance.

Whether Sessions reverses the 2011 DoJ decision or not, there are glacial movements in the online gaming and poker question in D. C. and they don’t appear to be for good. That glacial movement is also being seen on the individual state level and there it is a bit more optimistic. While it isn’t known what effect a reversal of the 2011 DoJ decision would have on those states that have passed online gaming and poker regulation and others who might (it is possible that the states may just ignore the federal ban, much like several states have ignored the federal law making marijuana usage illegal), the question hangs like a guillotine over online poker players. It is time, however, that those that say they advocate for poker players to come up with something other than Tweets to demonstrate their abilities to affect the narrative in Washington, D. C. and across the country.

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

Boston Globe Editorial Comes Out with Anti-Online Gaming Opinion

 Boston Globe Editorial Comes Out with Anti Online Gaming Opinion

Although there hasn’t been a state pass online gaming regulations since 2013, there have been several that have come up with legislation on the subject (that have failed to garner support) or have created committees to further study the situation. One of those states is Massachusetts, which has been active in building their gaming offerings with three new casinos being built around the state to counteract those in neighboring Connecticut. They have also been studying an expansion into online gaming, but one of the state’s top newspapers has come out with a definitively anti-online gaming stance.

On Sunday, the Boston Globe editorial staff penned an op-ed that looked to persuade state legislators from further pursuit of online gaming. Entitled “Don’t Gamble Massachusetts’ Future Online,” the op-ed starts out by mentioning the legislative study that is considering full online casino regulation – slots, poker, “table” games, the entire operation. They also mention that, in previous op-eds, they have supported the expansion of online lottery sales. When it comes to online gaming and poker, however, the Globe staff believes that goes too far.

One point that the Globe editorial staff brings up is that there isn’t any “ancillary benefits” to online gaming and poker. With the live casinos, the Globe writers point out that there are other areas that money is spent other than gambling – hotel rooms, dining, shopping, concerts, shows, and other non-gaming outlets which garner the state revenue. Another point brought up is that, five years after legalizing casino gaming in the state, there still isn’t a full-fledged casino open and one “slot” outlet in Plainridge hasn’t exactly drawn in the revenues that were predicted. The Globe also states that the live casinos and lottery operations can be controlled by the state, while the online offerings would have private companies in control.

The final point that the Globe makes is that online gaming and poker are “predatory.” The editors quote Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, as saying, “Young people aren’t going to brick-and-mortar casinos, which should be a good thing. This whole effort is about getting an entire new generation of youngsters hooked on gambling.”

The problem with Bernal and the organization speaking out on the subject is that the Globe fails to offer any counter-argument to the statement. It is an op-ed, granted, but some actual information from a pro-online gaming organization – the Poker Players Alliance is unfortunately the ONLY one that has any prominence in the States of America – could have at least been presented to offer some balance to the piece. It doesn’t appear, however, that the Globe staff was interested in a balanced report.

Opinions from readers are mixed on the subject, with some taking the Globe to task for not presenting a more researched opinion. “There is a good reason this article is in the opinion section,” one reader writes. “Very little evidence is show and the is an amalgam of the authors’ feelings about morality and ethics.” “Why not try a trial, a year?” another writer states. “Then (we can) evaluate…with facts.”

Others, however, applaud the stance taken by the Globe. “Bravo for taking a stand on this, though I expect our legislature will soon cave to the allure of tax revenue,” one writer says. Another takes a rather extreme stance in writing, “Gambling is a tax on stupidity. We shouldn’t be taxing it, we should be trying to mitigate it.”

Massachusetts is examining the potential of online gaming, as are several other states in the Northeast. Pennsylvania has passed the revenues from online gaming into their current budget, but they have been unable to reach an agreement on regulating the industry. New York currently has legislation in its General Assembly, but that has been the case for the last three years. Being first into the action would be of great advantage to the Bay State, but the Globe doesn’t believe that it is worth the risk for the state or its citizens to open online casino gaming and poker.

Poker News Daily



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