Posts Tagged ‘online’

Illinois Online Gambling Legislation May Still Have Breath This Year

 Illinois Online Gambling Legislation May Still Have Breath This Year

According to Online Poker Report, it is very possible that a few online gambling bills may be looked at in some short veto sessions in Illinois coming up next week and in November. These sessions, which will only be from October 24th to October 26th and November 7th through November 9th, are used mainly for state lawmakers to review bills vetoed by the Governor, but some other bills that haven’t even gotten to the Governor’s desk are sometimes looked at, as well.

In June, the Illinois State Senate passed a piece of legislation that would have legalized and regulated online gambling – including poker – and daily fantasy sports (DFS). The bill dominated, too, passing by a whopping 42-10 vote.

The bill authorized licensed casinos and race tracks in the state to apply for online gambling licenses. Taxes would have been 15 percent on gross gaming revenues, but for the first five years, the first $ 100 million in revenues would have been taxed at only 10 percent. Unfortunately, there was also a “bad actor” clause in the bill, which disqualified any operator who “accepted wagers via the internet in contravention of this act or in contravention of any law of the United States.”

Yup, that’s PokerStars.

As for daily fantasy sports, the tax portion would have been on a sliding scale. The taxes were listed at 5 percent on the first $ 1 million in gross gaming revenues, 7.5 percent on revenues up to $ 3 million, 10 percent for the portion up to $ 8 million, and 15 percent over 8 million. Licensing fees would be just $ 500 for operators that make less than $ 100,000 and increase to a max of $ 25,000 for those who make over $ 10 million.

The bill stalled out in the House, though you probably guessed that by now. There was actually a chance that Governor Bruce Rauner would have vetoed the bill, as when he ran for office in 2014, he said he didn’t want to expand gambling in Illinois. At the same time, Illinois faced a nearly $ 10 billion deficit, so any potential tax income would have been welcomed.

Online Poker Report says that three bills could possibly be considered. H 479 was the one passed by the Senate, now sitting in the House. S 209 was referred to the House Executive Committee’s Gaming Subcommittee this week. And there is S 1531, another bill moved to the House, this one to the House floor.

Since it is the most complete and furthest along, H 479 would logically have the best chance to do something and would have the shortest path to law, but you never know with these sorts of things. As mentioned, there are very few days for anything to happen, and as is usually the case, there are likely more important topics on the minds of Illinois legislators. But the windows, however small, are open, so action on internet poker is not impossible.

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New Hampshire Online Gambling Bill in Play

 New Hampshire Online Gambling Bill in Play

If the stars align – and who knows what the real chances of them doing so are – New Hampshire could have legalized online poker in the near future. A bill, House Bill 562, has been revived in the New Hampshire House and is simply summarized as “An Act allowing online gambling.”

HB 562 was originally introduced on January 5th, 2017 and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee a couple weeks later. It had a public hearing at the end of the month and then an executive session – the meeting during which the committee members deliberate over the bill – in February. The bill has had no further movement until now.

On October 12th, another executive session was scheduled for next week, October 25th. According to the New Hampshire government’s website, at the end of the session, “A report is submitted to the Clerk of the Senate or House entitled ‘Ought to pass,’ ‘Ought to pass as amended,’ ‘Inexpedient to legislate,’ ‘Refer to interim study,’ or ‘Re-refer to Committee.’”

“Inexpedient to legislate” is the really bad status in this case, as that means the bill is dead. Clearly, one of the first two is best, with “out to pass as amended” being the preferred outcome for poker fans.

As far as the content of the bill itself, there really isn’t any. It is just a skeleton bill, a sort of “insert regulations here” type of document. The bulk of the text is in the following paragraph:

This bill exempts gambling done over the Internet from gambling offenses under RSA 647. The Department of Justice to date has neither investigated nor prosecuted online gaming offenses and therefore does not expect this bill to have any impact on expenditures. To the extent this bill legalizes a form of gambling, it may have an indeterminable impact on lottery and charitable gaming revenue. Lottery and charitable gaming revenue is credited to the lottery fund, with net revenues after Lottery Commission expenditures being credited to the state education trust fund.

It does not specify any specific games to be legalized, just the general, “Gambling done over an Internet connection on a website on the Internet.”

If passed, the Act would take effect on January 1st, 2018, though obviously New Hampshire would need some rules and regulations first. One would assume operators would have to be approved and licensed, software would need to be tested, and all sorts of other things would need to be done, so even if this passes before the end of the year, it is hard to imagine people in New Hampshire being able to play online poker in just two and a half months.

The optimist, at least, can point to the fact that New Hampshire legalized online lottery ticket sales in July, so obviously there has been approval for online gambling among state lawmakers. The actual online sales are expected to begin early in 2018. There is no indication one or the other, but it would not be surprising to find out that if online gambling does become legalized in New Hampshire that the state lottery commission might be in charge of it. We shall see, won’t we?

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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.

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Bovada Re-Opens Online Poker Room

 Bovada Re Opens Online Poker Room

A little more than a year after closing its online poker room, Bovada has decided to re-open it, initially accepting players from nine countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and yes, the United States of America. So is this what making America great again was all about?

Bovada took full advantage of Black Friday, continuing to offer online poker to poker players in the United States after the likes of PokerStars no longer did, becoming, along with sister site Bodog, one of the largest poker networks on the internet and the largest U.S.-facing network.

In August of last year, Bovada surprisingly shut down its poker room, transferring its business and player base over to Ignition Casino. Ignition essentially became Bovada, using the same software, keeping the same players, but using a different name. The sale was a bit of a mystery, though, as almost nothing is publicly known about its owner, Lynton Limited. Ignition continued to serve U.S. customers.

And now Bovada has returned, open for business in the eight Latin American countries listed above plus the U.S. While there has been no indication one way or the other (aside from it not being included in the country list), some think there is a possibility that Bovada may enter the Australian market. Online poker rooms, including partypoker and PokerStars, are fleeing Australia because of new online gambling laws that will take effect in September that make it illegal to operate there without a license. There is no online poker licensing available, so companies are getting out lest they be in violation of the law.

Though Bovada will accept U.S. customers, it will not allow people in New Jersey, Nevada, or Delaware to play on its site, as those are the ones with specific licensing regulations for online poker. It will also stay away from Maryland, likely because much of the legal trouble that the U.S. government has given online poker operators and related companies has stemmed from the state.

Bovada will be on the PaiWangLuo Poker Network along with Ignition and Bodog. PaiWangLuo, a Hong Kong investment group, purchased the Bodog Poker Network in February and renamed it.

The initial reaction many have had to this news is that Bovada must be re-opening its online poker room and accepting customers in the U.S. because Bodog founder Calvin Ayre is out of hot water with the U.S. Department of Justice. But that’s probably not the case, as Bovada’s sports book and online casino have still been up and running since the poker room closed.

The company probably just decided that it wasn’t a fantastic decision to transfer its players to Ignition (or maybe it was – maybe Ignition paid Bovada a lot of money) and now wants to start the room up again to increase brand awareness and get sports bettors to spend some of their winnings at the tables.

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MGM Launches Online Poker Site in New Jersey

 MGM Launches Online Poker Site in New Jersey

MGM Resorts International has beefed up its internet presence in New Jersey, launching a pair of online gambling sites last week: playMGMpoker.com and playMGMcasino.com. The two sites made their “soft launch” on August 1st, meaning they had limited uptime while the company and state regulators made sure everything was going fine. The sites are now running full-bore, giving players in the Garden State more options for both online poker and online casino games. MGM has partnered with GVC Holdings to use GVC’s partypoker software for the online poker room.

You might wonder why I said that MGM has beefed up its presence when the online poker sites/networks in New Jersey are PokerStars, 888/WSOP, and Party Borgata, but no MGM. That is because last year, MGM bought Boyd Gaming Corporation’s stake in the Borgata (they shared it 50/50 previously) to become the casino’s full owner. Thus, MGM is the company in control of the Party Borgata network.

Naturally, playMGMpoker.com will be a part of the Party Borgata network, along with BorgataPoker.com and nj.PartyPoker.com.

“We are thrilled to be entering the online gaming landscape in New Jersey with the expansion of our playMGM.com platform to include both casino and poker games,” said Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts International Corey Sanders in a press release last Wednesday. “The ability to effectively bring Las Vegas to New Jersey via an online experience is an exciting undertaking, especially as we continue to develop our presence on the East Coast with the recent acquisition of Borgata, the opening of MGM National Harbor and the pending 2018 opening of MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.”

It is actually an interesting play here by MGM. It obviously already has the Party Borgata network, so adding another online poker room seems like a curious move. There is a real chance it could backfire and just cannibalize the other two sites on the network. Even if it is player-neutral, the added expenses in running playMGMpoker.com would make it a net negative.

At the same time, though, the idea here could be to use MGM’s brand name to grab some players from PokerStars and WSOP/888 as well as possibly grow the entire market by getting people who may have been interested in playing but never did to jump into the fray with MGM.

Additionally, playMGMpoker.com and playMGMcasino.com will be cross-promoting with MGM’s other properties, particularly the multitude of casinos in Las Vegas.

To kick it off, playMGMpoker.com is running a pretty solid promo for new players, offering $ 25 free with a real money deposit and virtually no playthrough requirement (there is one, but it’s minimal). $ 10 of the free money is just cash, while $ 15 is tournament money.

There is also a 100 percent deposit match up to $ 2,000. Now, while the percent is great, it is not as great. There is a fairly sizable playthrough requirement, the bonus is released in 10 percent increments, and players only have seven days to earn it. Those last couple parts make it tricky: deposit too much and the increments could end up so large that it is hard to unlock even one or two of them within a week.

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