Posts Tagged ‘Unknown’

Poker Professional Brandon Steven Under Notice from Federal Authorities for Unknown Actions

 Poker Professional Brandon Steven Under Notice from Federal Authorities for Unknown Actions

Per reports from his hometown newspaper, poker professional Brandon Steve has been put on notice that federal authorities are examining his actions. What isn’t clear, however, is what are the exact “actions” that Steven has committed.

The Wichita Eagle and writers Tim Potter and Kelsey Ryan report that Steven, who is a popular businessman as the owner of several car dealerships and a health club in the area, received a letter from the U. S. Attorney’s Office. That letter, signed by Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron Smith of the District of Kansas and dated February 1, indicated that a phone that was “subscribed to you (Steven)” was intercepted by federal authorities during the time of May and June in 2015. In addition to Steven, a member of the Eagle staff also received a similar letter on the same situation which, per a local attorney, is common; anyone who has received a call from that phone number (Steven’s) would receive the notice of interception.

Steven believes that he knows why the feds are examining the situation. “I’m aware of the broad nature of this inquiry,” Steven noted to Potter and Ryan. “As you know and everybody knows, I play high stakes poker. From what we (unknown as to the “we”) know, they are looking into my poker and my involvement with Castle Rock Casino. I’ve retained counsel and we’re going to fully cooperate with this matter.”

The project that Steven is talking about, Castle Rock Casino, was a plan by a coalition led by Steven for the building of a casino in the Sunflower State. In 2015, that group joined three other contractors – Emerald City Casino Resort, Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel, and the Southeast Kansas Casino Partners LLC – in competing for a lone license to build a casino in the state (the fourth in a series of casino licenses). After presentations from all the entities, Kansas Crossing was chosen as the group to build a casino in southeast Kansas.

That wasn’t the last that was heard from the Castle Rock group, however. A lawsuit was filed soon after the decision was made by state regulators, alleging that the regulators ignored state law that required them to consider maximum revenues and tourism to “keep in the best interests of the state).” Castle Rock attorney Russell Jones stated at that time that the “Castle Rock proposal maximized revenues, tourism, employment and every other metric. They didn’t pick it. We think they violated the law by doing what they did.”

State regulators didn’t have the same thought regarding the Castle Rock situation, though. Citing what they believed to be overestimations of revenue and financing of the debt, Kansas gaming officials steadfastly maintained they made the correct decision. It also didn’t hurt that the Kansas Crossing group was already involved in the state’s gaming industry, with its involvement in two of the other three casinos in the state.

Three different courts in Kansas ruled against Castle Rock in the case, but they persisted in moving the case forward to the Kansas Supreme Court. As they have battled through the court system, Kansas Crossing has moved forward in building and staffing the property, which is expected to open in March of this year. The Castle Rock appeal to the Supreme Court was heard last month but, as of yet, there has been no decision released (previous opinion and testimony throughout the ordeal doesn’t bode well for the appeal).

The continued battle over the casino and its future doesn’t seem to have affected Steven’s play on the tournament poker circuit. Last year Steven racked up over $ 1.2 million in tournament earnings, including a victory at one of the ARIA Super High Roller events in October for a $ 648,000 cash and a tenth-place finish at the World Series of Poker’s High Roller for One Drop in July (good for $ 384,425). That was by far his best year ever on the tournament circuit, topping the $ 973,429 Steven earned in 2013.

Further information on the federal action – and on the decision by the Kansas Supreme Court – isn’t currently known. Poker News Daily will monitor the situation and update as necessary.

Poker News Daily

Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

 Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

In a highly contentious vote, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Senate voted to classify poker as a “game of skill.” The future of the Senate bill? That is unknown, but it opens the doors for a plethora of outcomes.

The vote in the Senate was as close as you can get. After the polling was complete, the issue garnered the same number of votes for each side, 19-19, meaning that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s vote was necessary to break the tie. His “aye” vote for passage cleared the way for the bill to now be considered by the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Senate bill, S1400, was originally introduced by Senator Louise Lucas, who was sure that the bill would get out of the Senate chambers. “I had the law on my side,” Lucas commented before the hearing in the Senate committee that would end up passing. This was the third year in a row that Lucas had proposed such legislation, with the bill in previous years dying in the same committee that passed it in 2017.

The bill itself only changes the language in Virginia statutes regarding its definition of poker as a “skill” game and not illegal gambling. The full bill language is as such: Poker; definition of illegal gambling and charitable gaming; poker games authorized; regulation of poker tournaments. Provides that poker is a game of skill and therefore not illegal gambling. The bill also allows a qualified organization to conduct poker games in conjunction with its charitable gaming activities, but does not allow a charitable organization to conduct poker tournaments. The bill requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Charitable Gaming Board to regulate poker tournaments, defined in the bill as a competition organized for the purpose of conducting poker games at one or multiple tables where (i) competitors play a series of poker games, (ii) prizes are awarded to winning players on a fixed or proportional payout basis, and (iii) the total prize amount awarded to all winning players at the event is $ 50,000 or more. Finally, the bill requires poker tournament sponsors to obtain a permit before conducting a tournament and tournament managers and operators to be registered with the Department.

Nowhere in that definition change does it state the future of poker in the state. There are several paths that could be taken in the coming months.

The first is that there could be absolutely nothing done. The Virginia House of Delegates is a notoriously anti-gaming bunch, but of late there has been some changes that the body has allowed. The state offers a lottery, pari-mutuel betting and, in 2016, opened the doors for daily fantasy sports (DFS) inside the state. Whether the House is ready to allow for poker’s decriminalization, however, is unknown.

If the House were to vote through S1400 and Governor Terry McAuliffe (a Democrat) signs it, then several options are available. The opening of casino gaming could be in play as Virginia, with Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland located around it all having some form of casino gaming and/or poker, might be interested in keeping some Virginia residents’ money inside the state. There is also the potential for online poker to come to the fore for the Cavalier State.

Online poker would be the first foray into the industry for the state and they may have the population to make a difference. Virginia, with its estimated 8.4 million residents, is the 12th largest state in the country and is almost the equal of another state that has online casino gaming, New Jersey (8.9 million). Numbers from the barely three-year old New Jersey online casino gaming industry, where there has been over $ 476 million in revenues and $ 71 million in taxes paid by the operators, have been strong even though they were originally overestimated by the state’s Governor, Chris Christie.

This is critical as Virginia legislators look for an injection of funds into the state coffers. In 2014, the state estimated that there would be more than a $ 1 billion shortfall in the budget, with significant cuts potentially on the horizon. Online gaming (if the numbers were like New Jersey’s figures) and casino gaming could be something that Virginia legislators might by eying as a potential to offset the state’s financial woes.

This discussion is quite premature, however, as the bill still must get through the House and get the signature of McAuliffe. Currently there is no discussion planned for S1400 in the House, but that can change quickly. The move to make poker a “skill” game in Virginia may be nothing more than a legal clarification but, if passed, it would open the doors for quite a bit more for the state.

Poker News Daily

888 Sweetens Deal for bwin.party, Terms Yet Unknown

 888 Sweetens Deal for bwin.party, Terms Yet Unknown

The battle for bwin.party, parent company of partypoker, continues.

On Tuesday, bwin.party confirmed that it has received another acquisition proposal from 888 Holdings, though it has not revealed any of the proposal’s details. The brief announcement is as follows:

Further to its announcement on 27 August regarding a proposal from GVC Holdings PLC (‘GVC’), the Board of bwin.party (‘bwin.party’) confirms it has also now received a revised proposal from 888 Holdings plc (’888′).  This revised proposal is subject to a number of pre-conditions (which can be waived in whole or in part by 888).

The Board of bwin.party is evaluating this proposal, together with that received from GVC, and intends to consult with its key shareholders in the coming days before making a final determination as to which proposal is in the best interests of shareholders.  A further announcement will be made in due course.

The Board’s unanimous recommendation of 888′s offer, which was announced on 17 July 2015, remains unchanged by this announcement.  Documentation in respect of this offer was posted to shareholders on 28 August 2015.

This follows an announcement made by 888 from last Friday, August 28th, in which 888 basically just acknowledged that GVC Holdings, its competitor in the bidding for bwin.party, has clarified some issues regarding its own proposal to bwin.party and may make a formal offer:

The Board of 888 (the “Board”) notes the announcement made this morning by bwin.party concerning a potential offer for bwin.party. The Board continues to believe that the combination of the 888 and bwin.party businesses announced on 17 July 2015 (the “Proposed Transaction”) under the 888 management team would generate significant value for both sets of shareholders.

Following a detailed due diligence exercise, 888 made an offer comprising a significant cash component along with an approximate 49% ownership interest in the combined business. This offer was unanimously recommended by bwin.party. The Board continues to believe that its offer is of significantly greater intrinsic value than the proposal outlined by GVC Holdings PLC on 24 August 2015.

The Board notes that it remains the unanimously recommended bidder and continues to work towards the completion of the Proposed Transaction. 888 publishes its interim results for the 6 months to 30 June 2015 on 28 August 2015 and anticipates publishing a prospectus and shareholder circular in relation to the Proposed Transaction on the same day.

To summarize the timeline to this point, GVC Holdings announced on July 9th that it made a proposal to buy bwin.party for 110p per share. On July 17th, 888 announced its own, lower-priced proposal of 104.09p per share, but bwin.party’s Board of Directors recommended that one to shareholders, citing stronger corporate synergies, but it is also thought that bwin.party simply feels more comfortable with 888 than with GVC, especially when GVC was partnered with Amaya Gaming at the time. Amaya owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

On July 27th, GVC Holdings announced a new proposal in which it increased its bid to 122.5p per share, this time without Amaya’ help. The company has been in talks with bwin.party to iron out some of the terms of the proposal, but bwin.party’s Board has yet to change its recommendation to shareholders.

Poker News Daily



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