Posts Tagged ‘online’

New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

 New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

It is on to the full Senate for a bill that would regulate and legalize online poker in New York state, as the bill has passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday by a 27-9 vote. On Valentine’s Day, the bill passed the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The purpose of S3898, according to the text of the bill itself, is:

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.”

Straightforward, it is (Yoda…I am?).

The bill is sponsored by Republican State Senator John Bonacic, who has taken up the online poker cause during the last few years. He introduced a bill last year and everything was going well, especially when it sailed through the Senate by a 53-5 vote, but the Assembly never even voted on it.

Bonacic has been confident about his bill this year, telling GamblingCompliance, “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.”

We won’t bore our readers with all of the finer points of the poker bill, but some of the provisions, as we listed out in February, as well, include:

•    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 (that was likely just a simplification, as Hold’em and Omaha are the two most popular forms of online poker – there would be no reason to exclude other forms, like Stud).
•    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.

One of the reasons that the bill didn’t get voted upon in the state Assembly last year was Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who was actually the sponsor of the Assembly’s version of the bill. In a February interview with FIOS1 News’s Andrew Whitman, he said that he was not confident about operators’ ability to prevent cheating. Fortunately, after visiting New Jersey’s Attorney General, he came away impressed and is now “satisfied” that cheating can be prevented as much as is reasonably possible. Pretlow now believes the bill shouldn’t have problems in the New York Assembly, assuming it gets there.

“When I do sign off on something,” he told Whitman, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”

Poker News Daily

MGM, GVC Team for New Jersey Online Casino/Poker Offering

 MGM, GVC Team for New Jersey Online Casino/Poker Offering

According to announcements from the players involved, the New Jersey online gaming industry will be growing by one very soon.

Last week, MGM Resorts International announced that they would be teaming with GVC Holdings PLC – the ownership behind partypoker – to bring a new entry into the Garden State’s online gaming and poker offerings. MGM, which owns the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa on the Atlantic City boardwalk (and is already offering a popular set of sites), has been looking for some way to introduce an eponymously named sites that would work as a compatriot for the Borgata operation but still be standing on its own. Later this year, MGM will offer GVC’s software to run its games (at this point, it looks like the site may be called “PlayMGM.com”), looking to have over 300 casino games along with cash and tournament poker that will not only be offered online but also will be offered through mobile variants.

Naturally, both companies were excited to extend their partnership into another venue. “We are delighted to extend our relationship with MGM Resorts and to be launching casino and poker under the playMGM brand in New Jersey,” said GVC’s Chief Operating Officer Shay Segev. “MGM Resorts is quite simply one of the biggest and best names in the business, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Echoing those sentiments was Corey Sanders, the Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts. “This is a historic moment for MGM Resorts to be launching real money online casino and poker under the MGM brand for the first time. GVC has been a first-rate partner for us, and we are excited about the possibilities of extending that partnership as regulated markets open up in the U.S.”

The Borgata/GVC partnership has been a profitable one for both sides. Since their partnership began when New Jersey opened for online gaming and poker in 2013, the Borgata and GVC have earned over $ 152 million, outpacing the second-place operation of Caesars/Harrah’s and 888 Holdings (have earned slightly more than $ 117 million in the same time span). Those two organizations have dominated the online poker segment of the New Jersey industry, with Borgata/GVC slightly outpacing Caesars/Harrah’s/888 by slightly more than $ 5 million.

Whether there is enough room for another operation in New Jersey is the question, however. When it was introduced in 2013, the two properties with a similar name – the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza – were both involved in the Jersey online gaming scene. Within a couple of months, the Plaza was left in wreckage along the side of the road, while the Taj Mahal (paired with the now-defunct Ultimate Gaming) was able to stagger on until September 2014. Once Ultimate Gaming closed its doors, the Taj Majal lost its partner in the dance and shut off its operations (both properties are now closed).

A newcomer, Resorts AC, was one of the companies that was struggling on the sidelines in November 2015, but that was before they signed a deal with the company that was thought to be the “savior” of online poker in New Jersey. Resorts AC (already running an online casino operation), and its partnership with Amaya Gaming and the #1 online poker site in the world PokerStars, came into the fray in March 2016 and, to be honest, has not brought the throngs that people thought would turn out (especially in the poker arena). Since the debut of PokerStars in New Jersey in March 2016, they have consistently been the #1 online poker operation in New Jersey, but that lead is not dominant. After an initial burst of activity, the three online rooms have settled in to divvying up the $ 2 million online poker market in the state roughly equally.

The question will have to be asked if there are enough customers to support another online casino/poker operation in the state, but we’ll have to wait to see what that outcome will be. The new MGM/GVC partnership won’t open its doors until later this year, at which point players will decide whether the newcomers are worthy contenders or just another site.

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

Might U.S. AG Jeff Sessions Kill Online Poker?

 Might U.S. AG Jeff Sessions Kill Online Poker?

Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on multiple occasions in the last few years and even had a couple hearings in the House, but in the end, even Republicans saw it for the blatant crony capitalism that it was. The threat of a gambling ban was over. Unfortunately, the poker community is starting to get a bit worried again as the rumors have started that the Trump administration may look to get a ban going soon.

According to GamblingCompliance (sorry, there’s a paywall), “Gambling lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are abuzz with speculation that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the verge of announcing plans to overturn the 2011 legal opinion which cleared states to regulate internet gambling.”

Sessions, who was considered too racist in 1986 for a federal judgeship (too racist in the eighties!), shared his brief thoughts on internet gambling during his confirmation hearing for his Attorney General position. He was asked about online poker by his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, the Senator who did Daddy Adelson’s bidding and introduced RAWA in the Senate:

Lindsey Graham: About the Wire Act, what’s your view of the…Obama’s Administration’s interpretation of the Wire Act law to allow online video poker, or poker…gambling?

Jeff Sessions: Senator Graham, I was shocked at the memorandum – I guess – the enforcement memorandum that the Department of Justice issued with regard to the Wire Act and criticized it. Apparently, there is some justification or argument that can be made to support the Department of Justice’s position, but I did oppose it when it happened and it seemed to me to be an unusual….

Graham: Would you revisit it?

Sessions: I would revisit it and I would make a decision about it based on careful study and I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today.

And now, if the “buzz” is true, it looks like Sessions will be revisiting the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act. Remember, the Wire Act specifically prohibits sports betting over telecommunications lines, but that’s it. For whatever reason, it was interpreted for years to include all gambling, but finally at the end of 2011, the Office of Legal Counsel set the record straight. That clarification cleared the road for states to legalize intrastate online gambling. So far, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have regulated online poker, while a few other states offer internet lottery purchases. A reinstatement of the old Wire Act interpretation would presumably kill all of this.

The odd part about the possibility of Sessions overturning the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act is that the Wire Act still says that it is only sports betting over telecommunications lines that is banned, so it seems like it would be a strange situation where the legal enforcement of the Act would clearly be based on an incorrect interpretation.

The sad part is that Sessions could easily get away with doing this, as with all the bullshit that Trump and his band of dunces are making us put up with every day, barely anybody would notice – and thus put up a fuss – if online poker was stomped out.

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



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