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Haley Hintze

Poker News Brief: Illinois Legislators to Reconsider iPoker

by Haley Hintze

State regulated online poker will again be on the agenda of topics as Illinois legislators return to the topic of expanded gambling within the state.  Several different forms of expanded gambling have been proposed for the revenue-strapped state, including a proposed downtown-Chicago casino, the large, new Rivers Casino near O’Hare, the online sale of lottery tickets… and, of course, state-regulated internet poker.  Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton has indicated only tepid support, stating that the controversial downtown-Chicago casino question must be answered before plans for Illinois online poker can move forward.

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Poker News Brief: New Charity-Poker Measure Introduced in Michigan

by Haley Hintze

Michigan State Sen. Rick Jones has introduced new legislation in Michigan that would formally regulate standalone charity poker rooms in the state.  Michigan’s charity-poker offerings had proliferated in the past decade as unofficial gaming venues governed under the state’s 1972 bingo bill, but had evolved in many cases as independent operations with no bingo or other gaming evolved.  The rooms’ growing popularity had its drawbacks, however, including sometimes lax security that led to a spate of violent crimes, including armed robberies, and sometimes lax oversight that allowed some locations to operate far beyond legislators’ previous attempt.  State gaming rules modification issued last year addressed some of the existing issues, but Jones’s new bill, supported by a bipartisan collection of legislators, hopes to take additional regulatory steps for the charity-funding operations.

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Rift in California Tribal Negotiations over Possible PokerStars Software Deal

by Haley Hintze

Negotiations between competing California tribal-casino factions over differences in language in rival Cali intrastate online poker bills have fallen apart over allegations that PokerStars may be negotiating to at least one tribe and two major independent cardrooms. A 12-tribe group led by the state’s Pechanga and Agua Caliente bands issued a public statement against PokerStars and its parent Rational Group, demanding that a “bad actor” provision, designed to block PokerStars, be included in any California i-poker legislation. The rival Morongo tribal nation and the Commerce and Hawaiian Gardens card rooms have been named in media reports as negotiating with Stars for software services. PokerStars paid more than $500 million to resolve its federal “Black Friday” case but admitted no legal wrongdoing, and would currently be subject to approval by California gaming regulators rather than being blocked by a Cali i-poker bad-actor provision.

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Poker News Brief: Harrah’s Tunica Plans June Closing

by Haley Hintze

The World Series of Poker Circuit Series will lose one of its venues next season, following the announcement by parent company Caesars Entertainment that the Harrah’s Tunica casino will close on June 2nd.  The Mississippi casino-report is the largest of three Caesars-owned properties in Tunica, but remained awash in red ink despite the success of the WSOPC Tunica stop.  Mississippi’s Tunica casinos have seen sharp revenue declines, with much of the region’s casino business shifting to the state’s resurgent Biloxi / Gulf Coast region.  The most recent WSOPC Tunica visit was in late January, with the stop expected to be removed or replaced on the tour’s 2014-15 slate.

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Poker News Brief: British Poker Pro Murdered in "Honey Trap" Robbery

by Haley Hintze

Well-liked British poker player Mehmet Hassan was murdered in what British authorities described as a pre-planned robbery gone wrong. Hassan, 56, was beaten and robbed just hours after winning £3,000 playing poker at London’s Palm Beach Casino, apparently after a trip to celebrate the victory. Hassan and a companion, 24-year-old Leone Granger, celebrated Hassan’s poker wins at the London’s upscale Nobu restaurant, then returned to Hassan’s Islington flat, where Granger and two accomplices are alleged to have undertaken the robbery-murderer, targeting tens of thousands of pounds Hassan kept as his poker bankroll. The popular Hassan was a veteran of the British tournament scene, and was remembered fondly by numerous players and industry officials.

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Poker News Briefs: Twin Online Gambling Ban Proposals Introduced

by Haley Hintze

Twin Congressional measures seeking to reinvigorate the 1961 Wire Act and thereby make illegal most forms of Internet gambling, including poker, have been introduced in Congress. The bills, submitted by US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), originated with the deep backing of billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which operates the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas. The preliminary forms of both bills were written by a federal lobbyist funded by Adelson, who hopes to curtail Internet-based competition to his existing land-based casinos. Both new Congressional measures, denoted as S. 2159 and H.R. 4301, respectively, have been sent to Congressional committees.

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Poker News Brief: Ultimate Poker Signs Deal with Reno’s Peppermill Nevada

by Haley Hintze

Licensed online poker site Ultimate Poker expanding its reach into the state’s second-largest market in early March, courtesy of a major deal with Reno’s Peppermill Resort Hotel. The recently renovated Peppermill is one of the leading casino destinations in the Reno-Tahoe market, whose population is dwarfed by greater Las Vegas, but remains the state’s second most populous region. The deal also includes four smaller Peppermill affiliated casinos -- Western Village (Sparks), and the Rainbow, Peppermill Wendover, and Montego Bay (all in Wendover). Ultimate Poker is associated with the Vegas-centric Station Casino family, and lacked prominent landbased casino exposure before this deal.

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Poker News Briefs: South Carolina’s Graham Seeks Wire Act Strengthening

by Haley Hintze

US Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) has announced his intent to introduce Congressional legislation seeking to expand the US’s 1961 Wire Act to cover most forms of online gambling. Graham is among a handful of state and federal level politicians to speak out on the matter in recent months, aligning themselves with the philosophy of an anti-online-gambling push being funded by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. Political observers have speculated that some of the politicians are seeking to curry favor (and possibly contributions) from Adelson, a leading GOP donor who famously dropped at least $10 million into Newt Gingrich’s failed 2012 presidential campaign. Graham, in his statement, wants to strengthen the Wire Act’s reach, reversing a 2011 interpretation by US Attorney General Eric Holder that the law applies only to sports betting.

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Poker News Briefs: Utah House Investigation Reports Probable Felonies Linked in Online Poker Matters

by Haley Hintze

Utah House Investigation Reports Probable Felonies by Former State AG, US Senators Linked in Online Poker Matters – A 206-page report issued by a Utah House-authorized investigative panel in mid-March has asserted that former state Attorney General John Swallow may have committed as many as eight different felonies in a wide-ranging series of allegations with ties to the “Black Friday” online-poker processing conducted through a St. George, UT bank. Central to the investigation’s findings are evidence obtained from indicted Utah online marketer Jeremy Johnson, an unindicted, but important figure in the Black Friday affair. A secretly taped conversation of a meeting between Johnson and Swallow includes admissions of suspect behavior by Swallow, who resigned in November, and also includes the Johnson-alleged assertion of a million-dollar bribe paid through back channels to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) through back channels. The investigation into Swallow, led by two Utah county prosecutors, also includes the links to Reid and to US Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), but without formal federal assistance. According to the two Utah prosecutors, their request for the FBI to investigate Reed’s and Lee’s possible connections was blocked by the US Department of Justice.

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Poker News Briefs: New Jersey Online Gambling Numbers Rise Again

by Haley Hintze

Jersey Online Gambling Revenue Grows While Delaware Numbers Stagnate – The effect of “critical mass” on poker-play pool liquidity can be seen in the contrasting online-gambling revenue numbers posted in February by eastern US states New Jersey and Delaware, both of which went live with online-gambling services (including poker) in November.  New Jersey’s monthly revenue topped $10 million for the first time in February, more than a 20% day-over-day gain from January’s numbers, and the state has logged roughly a quarter of a million real-money signups in less than four months.  Meanwhile, much-smaller Delaware has struggled, seeing declining signups and revenue in each of the past two months.  Delaware’s small size and growth struggles are part of the impetus for the player-sharing deal it recently signed with Nevada, the third US state currently offering legalized online poker.

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Wendeen H. Eolis

World Series of Poker


September 4, 2014 - 9:31am
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