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
by Haley Hintze
MGM ONLINE PASSES NEVADA SUITABILITY HEARING
MGM Online became the latest major Nevada casino entity to receive preliminary approval to offer online poker to its residents, passing a Nevada Gaming Commission suitability hearing at the start of November. The formal granting of the license is typically a formality and will likely occur later in November. MGM Online becomes the sixth Vegas-area casino brand to receive tentative approval, joining entities associated with South Point, Golden Nugget, Fertitta/UFC, Boyd Gaming, and ACEP (American Casino & Entertainment Properties, which owns the Stratosphere). Like Boyd, MGM Online has already contracted for software services from bwin.party, assuming the European poker giant is able to pass its own licensing hurdles.
by Haley Hintze
S.W.A.T. Raid Targets Florida Flee-Play Poker Even Florida Play-Money Poker League Raided by S.W.A.T. Team
Bar patrons playing free poker with only small-value prize certificates at stake found themselves staring down the business end of a S.W.A.T. team’s weapons in a recent Tampa, FL raid. The overzealous raid in the suburb of Largo targeted participants in a free poker league with miniscule merchandise prizes organized by The Nutz, one of many such groups that hold similar events in exchange for a share of the bar’s receipts. Typically, such “free” poker events avoid prosecution because the players themselves do not place wagers or offer other consideration for their participation, which was scant consolidation for the event’s 140 players, who were held at gunpoint. Six people involved with organizing the event were arrested and led from the scene to an arraignment on what the league’s organizers subsequently reported as felony gambling charges.
Boyd, Fertitta, and Golden Nugget Snag Nevada Licenses
By Haley Hintze
Ivey Logs Big Win, Doesn’t Collect Ivey Stiffed by London Casino for $11.7 Million in Punto Banco Winnings
An August trip by Phil Ivey to London’s oldest continuously operating casino, Genting Crockfords, London, resulted in a £7.3 million win (about US $11.7 million) that the casino has, to date, refused to pay. Casino officials returned Ivey’s initial £1 million stake but have continued to investigate Ivey’s winning streak at punto banco, a skill-free version of baccarat. Ivey bet between £50,000 and £150,000 a hand during his rush, the final results of which, may end up before a British court.
American Full Tilters Receive First Remissi on Process Emails
Former American players at Full Tilt Poker received their first communication regarding refunds for FTP balances frozen since April 2011’s, “Black Friday.” The e-mail, sent via PokerStars-operated, fulltiltpoker.com domain, officially advised players that they “have the opportunity to file petition with the DOJ through a remission process which will be administrated by the DOJ.” No additional details were provided, except for an acknowledgment that secondary player rewards and bonus points would not be honored for American players, who will be able to access the new Full Tilt, but only for play money.
by Haley Hintze
FTP PAYMENT PROCESSOR FTP PAYMENT PROCESSOR ADMITS DECEIVING BANKS ADMITS DECEIVING BANKS
Full Tilt Poker payment processing head, Nelson Burtnick, has pled guilty to bank fraud in connection with Full Tilt’s long-running services to US players. Burtnick, 41, a Canadian citizen, admitted deceiving banks as to the nature of deposits made by American players in a hearing before US Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein. Burtnick is the seventh Black Friday defendant to reach a deal with prosecutors, with Full Tilt head Ray Bitar awaiting trial on charges similar to Burtnick. Burtnick faces a sentence of up to 15 years when sentenced on December 19th, but is expected to receive a shorter term.
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