by Haley Hintze
SEVEN NJ CASINOS GRANTED INTERNET GAMING APPROVAL
A late rush in approvals by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement saw seven of the state’s 12 casinos and a total of 13 online sites approved for the state’s soft launch of real-money online gaming, which began as scheduled on November 21st. The sites approved included www.Borgatacasino.com, www.Borgatapoker.com, www.NJ.Partypoker.com, www.HarrahsCasino.com, www.WSOP.com, us.888.com, us.888poker.com, us.888casino.com, www.CaesarsCasino.com, www.tropicanacasino.com, www.virgincasino.com, www.betfaircasino.com and www.ucasino.com. The late additions included six Caesars affiliated sites, with Caesars owning four of the state’s 12 land-based casinos.
VADIM TRINCHER, TWO SONS PLEAD GUILTY IN NYC GAMBLING CASE
by Haley Hintze
FIVE JERSEY CASINOS APPROVED TO LAUNCH ONLINE POKER SITES
As of early November, five of the 12 land-based casinos in New Jersey have been approved by state gaming regulators to offer online poker and other internet gambling to residents and visitors to the state. The Borgata, which received the first license in October, has since been joined by the Golden Nugget AC, Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and the Tropicana AC in receiving the go-ahead. These five casinos will soft-launch online sites on or around November 21st, with the first real-money gaming scheduled for November 26th. A number of sites connected to the licenses awarded have already begun accepting player registrations, including Betfairnj.com (Trump Plaza), Borgatacasino.com, Goldennuggetpoker.com, Letsplaynj.com (Trump Plaza), Partypokernj.com (Borgata), Tropicana.net, and Ucasino.com (Trump Taj Mahal, Ultimate Poker).
DELAWARE LOTTERY DEBUTS ONLINE POKER, GAMBLING SERVICES
Hopeful online bettors in New Jersey’s neighbor Delaware had to wait one extra week as last-minute wrinkles were ironed out, but on November 8th, the Delaware Lottery and the state’s three licensed land-based casinos (Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway) went live with real-money offerings. Players age 21 and over and located physically within the state were able to play poker in addition to several casino games; Delaware thus became the first US state to offer officially authorized online casino games. Traffic was reported as light to moderate in the sites’ early days, with users occasionally reporting the same sort of geo-location verification problems that plagued Nevada’s online-poker launch earlier this year. Delaware officials continue exploring the possibility of multi-state compacts to increase player liquidity and revenue. DICRISTINA VERDICT APPEALED TO US SUPREME COURT Convicted New York City poker-game operator Lawrence DiCristina has announced an appeal of his 2012 conviction to the US Supreme Court. DiCristina, a bike-shop owner who ran a smallstakes poker room in a Staten Island warehouse, was convicted by a jury of violating IGBA (the Illegal Gambling Business Act), though the verdict was set aside by presiding judge Jack Weinstein in a landmark ruling, citing poker’s skill attributes. However, Weinstein’s decision was overturned by an appellate court in August, which ruled 2-1 that the skill aspects cited were irrelevant to the case. The Supreme Court appeal represents the last hope for DiCristina, and it’s a slim one; SCOTUS, as it’s often abbreviated, only accepts a tiny percentage of the appeals submitted to it.
POKERSTARS, WYNN LEFT WAITING AS NEW JERSEY AWARDS WAIVERS TO OTHER SOFTWARE, HARDWARE PARTNERS
CAESARS EXITS MASSACHUSETTS CASINO RACE AFTER RUSSIAN MOB LINK EXPOSED
A minor link to an alleged Russian mobster was enough to torpedo the efforts of Caesars Entertainment to snag a sought-after Boston-area casino license, according to published reports. Caesars had planned to partner with Suffolk Downs Racetrack in a planned billion-dollar casino project, but exited after Massachusetts regulators recommended that Gansevoort Hotel Group, another partner of Caesars, not be recommended for any Massachusetts license. Gansevoort, a Caesars subsidiary which operates Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, has seen one of its investors, Arik Kislin, tied to Russian Mob money laundering operations in German court documents. Caesars subsequently terminated its relationship with Gansevoort, but bemoaned the strictness of Massachusetts regulators in citing an unrelated business deal in its background checking.
GOLDEN NUGGET ANNOUNCES SOFTWARE DEAL WITH AMAYA GAMING
by Haley Hintze
BORGATA, OTHER NJ ONLINE POKER SITES PREP FOR NOV. 26TH OPENING
Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa received the first interactive gambling license to be issued by New Jersey state gambling regulators. The license, granted in early October, means that the Borgata will be among the Atlantic City casinos expected to launch real-money online gambling, including poker, on Tuesday, November 26th. The live date for realmoney action will follow a brief, five-day soft launch for final software and hardware testing. The Borgata is a collaborative venture owned by Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts International, and its online brands are expected to be powered by bwin.party software. All 12 Atlantic City casinos are seeking approval to launch online versions of their brands, which will be available to anyone age 21 or over who is physically present in New Jersey.
ZYNGA WITHDRAWS NEVADA IGAMING APPLICATIONS
JERSEY SPORTSBETTING INJUNCTION UPHELD
New Jersey’s controversial 2012 challenge to the federal-level Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), approved in a voter referendum, was ruled invalid by a federal appeals court in late September. New Jersey had been sued by the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, with those states successfully gaining an injunction earlier this year preventing New Jersey from implementing Nevada-style sports betting, which was grandfathered in under the 1992 federal law. New Jersey officials now face the non-guaranteed prospect of a US Supreme Court appeal in hopes of implementing sportsbetting, with the niche’s increasing popularity having reverberating effects on casino-development plans in Jersey and elsewhere. The three-judge court ruled 2-1 against New Jersey’s interests in the latest decision.
WYNN AND 888 ANNOUNCE SOFTWARE DEAL
by Haley Hintze
FULL TILT CLAIMS PROCESS GOES LIVE
Garden City Group, the DOJ-appointed administrator for refunds to former US-based players on Full Tilt, announced detailed remission instructions on September 16th, with e-mails sent out on that date. Beginning on September 18th, GCG began accepting applications from players who have filed a formal petition for a refund (remission) of their online balances, which were frozen as of “Black Friday,” April 15, 2011. Affected players will have until November 16th to file for refunds, and GCG has announced that some categories of players, such as all former player/owners of FTP, known as “Team Full Tilt,” will be ineligible for refunds. All remission applications will be reviewed sometime after the process closes in November, with the actual payment date for refunds as yet undetermined.
IVEY REPORTEDLY CONFIRMS EDGE-SORTING IN CASINO FLAP
Poker News: Garden City Group Announces Window for Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Remission Application and moreAugust 27, 2013 - 10:05am
by Haley Hintze
STARS PARENT RATIONAL GROUP FULL TILT REFUND APPLICATION PROCESS TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER
Garden City Group, the claims-administration firm retained by the Department of Justice to administer the Full Tilt Poker remission process, has announced that former US players of the site will soon be able to apply for refunds. GCG will be mailing application materials to former FTPers on or about September 16th, 2013, at the start of a 60-day window running through November 15, 2013 within which players who had balances frozen on the site as of Black Friday may apply for refunds. The refunds will come from roughly $184 million paid by fellow Black Friday company PokerStars to acquire Full Tilt’s assets; if the total refunds applied for by players and approved by GCG exceeds that amount, the refunds would be prorated. Affected players who have not already registered at the GCG website associated with the FTP remission process, FullTiltPokerClaims.com, will be able to access the application materials on that site on or soon after September 16th.
MICHIGAN TO TIGHTEN CHARITABLE POKER REGULATIONS
STARS PARENT RATIONAL GROUP CONCEDES DEFEAT IN NEW JERSEY PURCHASE ATTEMPT, LEGAL BATTLES CONTINUE
The efforts of PokerStars parent Rational Group to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City, NJ have been formally abandoned, even as PokerStars continues a legal battle to recoup some of the $11 million already spent on the abandoned purchase. Stars’ attempt to purchase the Atlantic Club went haywire after a technical application deadline passed amid controversy over Stars’ hopes to reenter the New Jersey market, with Atlantic Club owner Resorts International Holdings reversing itself on the original sale while still demanding a final $4 million installment. The American Gaming Association also launched a protest against the attempted purchase by Rational. In the meantime, Stars and Rational continue to pursue an alternate New Jersey plan, a software agreement with Resorts Casino Atlantic City, which is no longer part of the Resorts International group.
BLACK FRIDAY VALANCES TO BE USED IN FULL TILT REMISSION PROCESS
Former American online poker players at Full Tilt Poker, which went out of business following the April, 2011 “Black Friday” crackdown against several US-facing sites, have learned that their existing balances as of April 15, 2011 will be used as the basis for refunds. The news came amid a brief statement issued by Garden City Group, the DOJ-appointed claims administrator for the remission process, which is unlikely to begin in earnest until 2014. GCG has issued several brief updates over the last several months, and maintains a site at fulltiltpokerclaims.com where former FTP players must register.
SOUTH POINT’S “REAL GAMING” BEGINS ACCEPTING APPLICANTS, VERIFYING IDS
By Haley Hintze
FOP PRESIDENT LINKS ONLINE GAMING TO AFGHANISTAN AND TERRORISM IN SENATE TESTIMONY
A mid-July Senate subcommittee hearing addressing the potential cybersecurity problems posed by online gambling disintegrated into ad hominen attacks by gambling opponents against Internet-based gaming and the late-2011 opinion by US Attorney general Eric Holder that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to sportsbetting. The committee’s minority leader, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), drove much of the proceedings, with the attendees’ general consensus that regulation of online gaming was a federal matter that shouldn’t be left to the states. Fraternal Order of Police president Chuck Canterbury, one of the hearing’s four testifying witnesses, even claimed that “[T]here are indications that terrorists in Afghanistan have been using illegal gaming sites to launder their money.”
BARTON INTRODUCES FEDERAL INTERNET POKER BILL
US Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) has introduced the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013. Barton’s bill, dropped in early July after several months of planning, defines poker as a skill game, citing the case of US v. DiCristina, and calls for the creation of a new Office of Internet Poker Oversight as part of the Commerce Department. It’s the second attempt at a federal online-poker legalization for Barton, who introduced a similar measure in 2011.
BWIN.PARTY PARTNERS WITH GEOCOMPLY, AGAIN PURSUES NEVADA MARKET
by Haley Hintze
POKERSTARS INKS PARTNERSHIP WITH RESORTS CASINO ATLANTIC
PokerStars parent Rational Group has announced a deal with Atlantic City’s venerable Resorts Casino AC to offer online gaming in New Jersey. The casino, New Jersey’s oldest, is no longer a part of the Resort’s International family, and is instead operated by Mohegan Gaming Advisors, the management group behind Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun. The new deal is tentative, pending regulatory approval.
BWIN.PARTY SETTLES WITH KENTUCKY FOR $15 MILLION
Commonwealth of Kentucky officials have announced a $15 million settlement to be received from bwin.party, the operators of PartyPoker, for Party’s pre-UIGEA (2006) services offered to Kentucky residents. Bwin. party’s pre-merger precursor, PartyGaming, was targeted by Kentucky officials in a separate lawsuit in 2010, apart from the state’s infamous 2008 seizure attempt launched against 141 online gambling-related domain names. The $15 million adds to $6 million Kentucky recently received from a claim attached to the federal “Black Friday” case.
ULTIMATE POKER, TRUMP SIGN NEW JERSEY PACT