Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

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

Florida Politicians Discussing Gaming and Poker, But Lack Consensus

 Florida Politicians Discussing Gaming and Poker, But Lack Consensus

While many pay attention to the ongoing battle regarding online poker – both at the state and federal levels – there are sometimes those governmental moves that influence casino gaming and poker more significantly. In Florida, state legislators are looking to freeze gaming growth in the state, with the House of Representatives passing the first bill to do just that last week, but there is plenty of dissention on the Senate side of Tallahassee towards expansion.

Per the Tampa Bay Times journalist Mary Ellen Klas, legislators in the Sunshine State are looking to freeze gambling expansion in the state for the next two decades. The House bill, HB 7037, would not allow for any of the locations around the state – most have looked towards Miami for casino expansion, but Orlando’s pristine jurisdiction (courtesy of the Disney Corporation) has also been discussed – but would have a far-reaching effect on other gaming outlets in the state. The bill’s top goal would be to allow for Governor Rick Scott to negotiate a new agreement on behalf of the state with the powerful Seminole Indian tribe that operates two Hard Rock Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood and four others spread across Florida.

It is in looking a bit deeper into the bill where some problems might arise from poker players. Recently some of the poker rooms in the state (allowed to exist at the myriad of dog and horse racing tracks operating 24/7) have begun to spread player-banked card games, previously only the domain of the Seminole casinos. The House bill would also cut dormant pari-mutuel permits (what allows for simulcast betting on horse and harness racing) and clean up language in the current laws that could be construed as allowing for future gaming expansion.

The House bill would kick up the yearly contribution by the Seminoles for their “exclusivity” on casino operations. Instead of the current $ 250 million a year that the Seminoles contribute to the state from their casino operations, they would pay $ 325 million per year. HB 7037 would also give the Seminoles the exclusive rights to the operation of blackjack in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and could also lead to full-fledged slot machines being installed in their casinos.

HB 7037 is already moving through the Florida legislature. Although Representative Michael LaRosa has stated that “the bill provides much needed certainty and predictability for years to come,” the members of the committee he chairs, the House Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee, don’t entirely agree with him. HB 7037 passed out of the subcommittee by a slim margin, 11-7, along a strict party line vote with Democrats opposing the action.

The Senate has their own bill, but it is a world away from what the House is envisioning. The Senate bill, SB 8, would open Miami-Dade and Broward counties for casino gaming, granting the locations one new casino each but not giving the rights to the Seminoles. The Seminoles would get an additional casino outlet to go with their previous six and horse and dog tracks would earn the right to operate slot parlors beyond their poker rooms. SB 8 isn’t set in stone, however, as Klas reports that Senator Bill Galvano has stated the Senate has met with Seminole leaders and there are “changes” that could still be made to SB 8 before it heads to committee.

While the Florida government is talking about how to shape gambling for the near future, what does the Seminole Indian tribes at the center of the discussion think? According to Klas, the tribe has already sent messages that neither the House nor the Senate bills are acceptable at this point. Marcellus Osceola, the chairman of the Seminole Indian Tribal Council, sent a letter to the leaders of the Florida government (Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran) loudly disagreeing with their actions.

Osceola points out to the Florida leaders that both bills as they are currently written would look for the tribe to pay more out each year to the state, but they would also lose a great deal of the current monopoly the tribe holds, making the increased payments ludicrous. “Unfortunately, both the Senate and House bills would require dramatic increases in the Tribe’s payments without providing increases in the Tribe’s exclusivity sufficient to justify those higher payments,” Osceola’s letter plainly stated.

The state of Florida has been negotiating with the Seminoles for changes to the current casino industry for the past few years. To this point, Scott nor the Seminoles have been able to reach a consensus on just how far to take any expansion of gaming (if there is to be one), how much influence (if any) the Seminole Indians would have over that expansion and, perhaps most important to the state, the continued influx of millions of dollars into the state’s coffers from the Seminole gaming operations. It appears that the Florida legislature cannot come to an agreement either on which way to move forward.

Poker News Daily

Colombia Gambling Agency Draws Up Online Gaming Blacklist

 Colombia Gambling Agency Draws Up Online Gaming Blacklist

Blacklists are not generally considered a good thing. I mean, right when you hear the word “blacklist,” you kind of recoil and nearly inaudibly say, “egh,” don’t you. Well, there are a lot of people making “who farted?” faces in Colombia right now, as the South American country’s gambling regulatory agency, Coljuegos has handed a blacklist of 325 online gambling sites to the Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones (Ministry of Information and Communications Technology), asking that agency to block Colombians from accessing them.

Yes, blacklists again. We’ve seen this before in other countries, either when they are trying to protect their state-run online gambling site or simply instituting draconian gambling policies (or both!). That list has been published; it contains all sorts of sites, from online poker to casino games to sports betting to bingo.

It’s also kind of weird, as if it had been drawn up by someone who really had no knowledge of the industry and just Googled “online gambling” (or its equivalent in Spanish). There are all sorts of duplicate domains, subdomains with strings of random characters, and even a Hotmail e-mail address. For crying out loud, I use a Hotmail address for account registrations where I know I’m going to end up with spam.

So be sure you don’t go to c-crisari@hotmail.com because not only will you not find any online gambling there, but you might get a curt reply.

Wait, oh dear, I just looked at the list again. There’s actually a Facebook page listed. Ok, I’m going to it now because I have to see this. Looks like it’s the Facebook page of Orlando Diaz, the Manager of the Turn & River Poker Club in Bogota, Colombia. Yes, government, please make ISPs block this INCIDIOUS Facebook page where I can’t participate in any sort of online gambling, but I can get information about the club’s poker tournaments.

Here some actual, legit online gaming sites of some interest from the potential blacklist (listed in the order they appear on the blacklist):

www.unibet.com
www.pokerstars.com/espanol/
poker.betfair.com/es/
bingo.paddypower.com
bingo.betsson.com/es/
www.caesarsbingo.com
www.betfred.com
casino.bovada.lv
www.bodog.eu
es.royalvegascasino.com
www.titanpoker.com/es/
www.888casino.es
www.williamhill.es
es.partycasino.com
www.mansioncasino.com/es/
casino.ladbrokes.com/es
es.partypoker.com
www.foxybingo.com
www.bet365.com

As you can see (and the trend continues on through the list), there is an emphasis on Spanish-language versions of sites. It would be pretty funny if the blacklist was implemented and, say, the Spanish-language version of PokerStars.com was banned (as opposed to Spain’s version), but players could still get on PokerStars.com proper. I’m guessing an ISP would be smart enough as to lump them together, but who knows?

Obviously, it would be tough to actually get down to barring people from all of these sites. There’s also probably not the greatest chance that any government agency would start going after sites that try to get around the blacklist by altering its URL, but some of the major sites, like PokerStars, might choose to stop operating in Colombia so as not to get on the bad side of regulators in other countries.

Again, remember that any speculation only applies if the blacklist actually gets implemented rather than just appearing on a site as an embedded table.

Poker News Daily



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