Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Malta Gaming Authority Launches New Online Licensing System

 Malta Gaming Authority Launches New Online Licensing System

Last week, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) announced that it is launching a new Licensee Relationship Management System in order to better facilitate communications between existing and prospective licensees and the regulatory body. The system, developed by Microsoft, is designed to simplify the licensing processes and keep them – as much as possible – online via a dedicated web portal.

At the outset, the MGA is launching three online services: applications for remote (read: internet) gaming licenses, dynamic seal URL requests, and submission of players liability and gaming tax reports. Part of the idea here is to allow operators to take control of their licensing and regulatory requirements, rather than have the MGA constantly push requests downstream and wait for a response. Now operators can do things like check on their licenses and keep track of what sorts of deliverables they need to submit (admittedly, I’m presuming this based on deduction and my past life in IT consulting – I haven’t seen the system in action).

“The Malta Gaming Authority is taking another step towards achieving efficiency and innovation in the way it conducts its function as a regulator by applying information technology in regulatory processes,” said the MGA’s Executive Chairman, Joseph Cuschieri, in a press conference. “This project further aids the Authority in providing a top end service to its licensees and practitioners alike. Our main objective remains; that of exceeding the expectations of all our stakeholders at large. This portal goes a long way in achieving that.”

Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri added:

Today, the MGA is launching a new system by which it will be facilitating the communication with clients applying for a gaming licence on our shores. This system will function via an online portal improving the efficiency of the Authority’s regulatory process. This project forms part of the government’s vision for the improvement of our gaming jurisdiction. With similar initiatives, the Authority is excelling in the service given to those wishing to invest in our country, whereby said service always exceeds the expectations of the vast majority of operators.

Frankly, it is a little surprising that a system like this was not put in place until now, but better late than never, as they say. I am also not exactly sure how the Malta Gaming Authority had been doing things, but I can imagine things like phone tag, faxes, and waits in line at a licensing office as possibilities. When I had an addition built on my house nine years ago, one of the subcontractors had to go to a county permitting office several times to take care of some busy work. It seemed like a huge waste of time and it would have been nice if he could have at least submitted plans and scheduled inspector appointments online. I wouldn’t be surprised if the MGA had been working in a similar way.

The next phase of the MGA’s new system is to expand it into land-based gambling operations.

The MGA licenses hundreds of operators. Most nobody has ever heard of, but some of the more recognizable names include Betsson, bwin.party, Evolution Gaming, GTECH, Microgaming, Relax Gaming, and Tain.

The post Malta Gaming Authority Launches New Online Licensing System appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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