by Haley Hintze
APPELLATE ARGUMENTS OFFERED IN US V. DICRISTINA
Arguments for and against the “poker as a skill game” argument occupied much of the questioning in the recent appellate hearing in United States v. Lawrence DiCristina. The Southern District of New York case in which federal judge Jack Weinstein set aside a jury’s guilty verdict against DiCristina, citing poker’s skill elements, resulted in Department of Justice prosecutors appeal to a three-judge court. Questioning also focused on whether the omission of “poker” from the language of the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), the statute under which DiCristina was tried, was intentional or was even considered by the IGBA’s original authors. No date has been set for the appellate court’s decision.
JUNIOR SCHEINBERG SETTLES WITH DOJ FOR $50 MILLION
Mark Scheinberg, the son of PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, and the dominant presence at PokerStars parent Rational Group, has paid $50 million to the United States Department of Justice to resolve any ongoing legal issues between the United States and Scheinberg, or PokerStars, for whom he currently serves as CEO. The deal was officially unconnected to the 2012 PokerStars DOJ settlement, in which the firm agreed to pay $547 million in connection to its pre-Black Friday, US-facing operations. A statement by the junior Scheinberg admitted to “no admission of wrongdoing, culpability or guilt on [Scheinberg’s] behalf.”
OREGON POKER-BANNING MEASURE KILLED
by Haley Hintze
WPT, FOXSports Ink Pact
The World Poker Tour’s new three-year deal with FOXSports assures the venerable tour of running through at least Season XIV. The new deal runs into 2017 and kicks off with coverage of the WPT Legends of Poker at LA’s Bicycle Casino in late August, with four more televised events on slate for the rest of the 2013 calendar year, the Borgata in Atlantic City, Paris’s Aviation Club, WPT Montreal, and the Bellagio’s annual Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic.
Massachusetts Online Gambling Amendment
Jettiso ned Over Unspecified Co nstit utionality Co ncerns Attempts to tack an online-gambling amendment onto a 2014 budget measure currently progressing through the state’s legislature was yanked from debate over general concerns over constitutionality, though legislators declined to define exactly why. The amendment, had it gone through, would have granted online licenses (including poker) only to those entities which are expected to be added under the state’s controversial land-based debut, including three full-service casinos and one slots-only venue.
Technical Blunder Briefly Allows Real-Money Play on WSOP.com Poker Site
California Tribal Nations Hammer Out Preliminary iPoker Proposal
Eight prominent California tribes have united in a new effort to bring intrastate online poker to the Golden State. Preliminary text for the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2013 was released by the bill’s tribal supporters in late May. Among the proposed provisions is exclusivity for the state’s existing tribal casinos and established cardrooms, with all other gambling venues (such as pari-mutuel outlets) to be excluded. The bill also calls for the state to abstain from any federal online gambling legislation and to refrain from taking part in any proposed interstate or international online gaming compacts, such as with neighboring Nevada.
Ivey Sues Crockfords Over Frozen Punto Banco Winnings, Casino Alleges Unfair Play
by Haley Hintze
PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATOR INTRODUCES ONLINE GAMBLING MEASURE
Pennsylvania State Representative Tina Davis has introduced a bill authorizing internet gaming, including poker, for the state’s residents. The bill, HB 1235, was immediately referred to the state’s Gaming Oversight Committee for evaluation. Eastern Pennsylvania, where Davis’s district is located, is an area of increased casino competition facing pressure from both New Jersey and Delaware, nearby states that have already approved forms of i-gaming. Davis’s measure would set an age limit of 21 and require the physical presence of both the players and prospective licensees, with license approval possible only for those entities already in possession of the state’s slot-machine licenses.
OBAMA AMBASSADORIAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM CONSIDERATION AFTER CONNECTION TO BUSTED NYC POKER GAMES PUBLICIZED
FLORIDA INTERNET CAFE CRACKDOWN PROMPTS LEGISLATION BANNING ELECTRONIC GAMING DEVICES
A $300 million scandal involving the arrest of 57 individuals and the resignation of Florida’s attorney general has prompted the introduction of a new bill which includes a sweeping ban on all electronic devices that can be used for gaming purposes. Florida’s new HB 155 measure swept through the state’s House on a 108-7 vote, following the disclosure that of $300 million netted by supposed charitable organization Allied Veterans of the World, which operates dozens of the video game-style slots parlors throughout the state, only $6 million went to the intended charities. The resulting move to ban such “internet cafes” includes language so broad it endangers almost all forms of electronic gaming, from arcade devices to the internet, regardless of whether skill or luck is involved.
888 HOLDINGS, TREASURE ISLAND
AGA PETITIONS NEW JERSEY REGULATORS TO BAR POKERSTARS, ONLINE GIANT FIGHTS BACK
In an unprecedented move, the American Gaming Association (AGA) filed a brief with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in an attempt to convince the state’s gambling regulators that PokerStars is a “criminal enterprise,” operating in violation of US law, and that the state should thus rule against the application of Stars-related entity Rational Holdings US to operate the recently purchased Atlantic Club casino in Atlantic City. Lawyers for Stars responded immediately with a brief of their own, alleging that the AGA had no legal standing from which to petition, and was engaging in blatant market protectionism. New Jersey regulators postponed a scheduled hearing on the AGA petition to consider the matter in greater detail.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR FOR FULL TILT REMISSION PROCESS
CHRISTIE SIGNS AMENDED ONLINE POKER LAW
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law a bill approving online poker for New Jersey residents, two earlier versions of which had been vetoed upon reaching his desk. Christie had demanded minor changes to the previous bill, including larger tax levies and increased funding for problems associated with gambling addiction, changes which were quickly approved by the NJ legislature. The changes were approved by the New Jersey Assembly and Senate on 68-5 and 35-1 votes, respectively, before the bill was signed by Christie. No timetable has been set for the rolling out of NJ-authorized online poker sites, though some local political reports indicate an early 2014 debut is likely.
CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER BILL BACK FOR ANOTHER TRY
California online poker players are also watching state legislative happenings after a new bill seeking to authorize the creation of an intrastate online network was introduced by State Sen. Lou Correa. Several previous California efforts have failed in the past three years, due to a combination of antigambling resistance and in-fighting among perceived proponents of the plan. Correa’s new measure would give the California Gambling Control Commission the responsibility for overseeing any California-based online poker, with the bill projecting over a billion dollars in much-needed tax revenue. Correa’s proposal joins one by state Rep. Roderick Wright already under consideration.
NEVADA APPROVES INTERSTATE ONLINE POKER
by Haley Hintze
NJ GOVERNOR CHRISTIE CONDITIONALLY VETOES ONLINE POKER MEASURE, BUT BILL NEARS SIGNING
New Jersey’s online-poker bill saga became a bad-news/good news story when NJ Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto on the latest measure of the bill to reach his desk, but with recommendations for minor changes that will allow the bill to become law, probably within two months. The bill’s primary supporter, NJ State Sen. Ray Lesniak, hailed the compromise as a victory of New Jersey’s casino interests and the creation of jobs, even as he set about implementing the changes Christie demanded. Those changes include an increase in the tax rate from generated online-poker revenue and additional money set aside to combat problem gambling concerns. No timetable has been set for the arrival of real-money New Jersey online poker, though a late-2013 or early-2014 window is likely.
POKERSTARS TARGETED BY NEVADA “BAD ACTOR” PROPOSAL
by Haley Hintze
FULL TILT’S HOWARD LEDERER SIGNS DEAL WITH US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Former Full Tilt Poker president and board member Howard Lederer reached a financial settlement with Department of Justice attorneys. The civil money-laundering complaint against Lederer was part of the widereaching “Black Friday” crackdown against several US-facing online poker sites. Lederer admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement while agreeing to the forfeiture of various assets worth at least $2.5 million, and possibly hundreds of thousands or millions more, with an undetermined amount in a primary Isle of Man “retirement” account among the forfeited assets. The settlement still represented far less than the $42.5 million originally sought from Lederer by the DOJ.
REID-KYL BILL DROPPED FROM LAME DUCK CONSIDERATION
by Haley Hintze
ZYNGA SEEKS NEVADA ONLINE POKER LICENSE
Leading smart-phone application developer, Zynga, maker of the widely popular Facebook app, Zynga Poker+, has formally applied to the Nevada Gaming Commission in hopes of offering real-money poker services in that state. Zynga hopes to convert its millions of play-poker fans to real poker, and has also reached a separate UK-based deal with bwin.party to offer real-money services there. Zynga’s move comes in the face of declining stock values and the need to further monetize its extensive social-networking brand awareness; the firm also markets the popular Farmville and Words with Friends apps, among several dozen prominent titles. Zynga Poker boasts four times as many active play-money players as leading online site PokerStars, according to one measuring site.
FULL TILT’S FURST REACHES CIVIL SETTLEMENT WITH DOJ