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Wendeen H. Eolis

AGA/PokerStars; Morality Play or Economic Warfare

by Wendeen H. Eolis

Over the past two weeks the American Gaming Association and PokerStars have sparred over the future of the online gaming company’s activities in Atlantic City. There is no end in sight for a battle that has AGA pressing the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on behalf of its members into a long methodical examination of the merits of PokerStars’ entry into the United States casino market.  

While the plot thickens and the legal issues unfold, more than a dozen lawyers are responding to my call for help to dissect in plain English what is happening. Lawyer sources for this article have intimate knowledge of the online and live casino industry. Many have represented one or more of the following: PokerStars, MGM, Caesars, other brick and mortar casinos and online gaming companies and/or the AGA. They weigh in today on a few of the questions they have brought to the table for discussion. 

Author's disclosures: The  writer is a a legal consultant but not a lawyer and therefore does not offer legal advice and  does not express any legal conclusions in the matters presented in this article.This acknowledges without specific reference that the writer and/or EOLIS companies have had business dealings at one time or another with most of the businesses mentioned in this article and necessarily, have retained confidences provided in the context of those relationships.

Please also note: For the avoidance of doubt, readers are advised that no spokesperson for either PokerStars or the AGA was solicited for comment with regard to this article and none of the responses reflect authorized comment by either organization

 

The questions and the summarized answers provided as a result of consulting with a wide variety of gaming law experts and white collar crime specialists follow:

1. Why did Poker Stars conclude affirmatively that their online poker fare was legal in America after enactment of UIGEA?

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (11 votes)

American Gaming Association v. Poker Stars Or Caesars v. Poker Stars

By Wendeen H. Eolis

Unlikely collaborations as well as predictable conflicts have marked the relationship between Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (formerly Harrahs) and PokerStars (Rational Group) since the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. For the moment the collaborations seem like bygones.

The American Gaming Association, a trade group that is best known for representing the interests of commercial casinos in Nevada and almost as well known for its close ties to Caesars took the unprecedented step last week of opposing PokerStars' efforts to obtain a gaming license In New Jersey.

The Association has effectively picked up where the United States Department of Justice left off in its settlement last summer with PokerStars.   Last July, the DOJ settled its  civil claims against the Company, arising from the government's ballyhooed prosecution of online gaming. The cases  originated April 15, 2011 in  the indictment  U.S. v Scheinberg et al.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (8 votes)

PokerStars and Caesars: What is the Score? The Spark that Put the WSOP into Play -- For a Minute!

By Wendeen H. Eolis

 A complicated relationship between Rational Group (PokerStars) and Caesars Entertainment has begun to reveal itself in earnest in recent weeks with an eclectic crowd of movers and shakers surrounding the players at the top of their respective pyramids.

 The two companies, with assistance from empowered supporters, have been known to deliver understated slaps back and forth over the years, but lately the protagonists are exchanging more powerful blows.

 Members of the Scheinberg family and top executives in the corporate empire of Caesars Entertainment are in the mix. So are the likes of American Gaming Association president, Frank Fahrenkopf, who will soon take his leave from his longtime position there.

 The cast of characters in recent machinations between the two companies has also included Scott Wilson, a business consultant/professional gambler with powerful connections. He was the spark that ignited a telephone call between Caesars and PokerStars -- the call that was heard around the world last week in a report by Nathan Vardi in Forbes  Magazine.

Mark Scheinberg and Mitch Garber are the key players in the sandbox

 Poker Player Newspaper has learned the identities of the "two high level officials" that were referenced without attribution in the Forbes article. They were Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive and Mark Scheinberg, CEO of PokerStars.  

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (6 votes)

Online Poker Forums: Winding through the Maze

By Wendeen H. Eolis

The history of Internet-based poker forums is as instructive as it is colorful, from its raw roots in the late 1980’s at a forum dominated by zealous blackjack counters and systematic craps players to the latest debates by legal experts fueled by Howard Lederer’s storytelling about the rise and fall of his Full Tilt Poker site in interviews and follow-up full of fanfare.

Poker Forums: The world at large!

Today the lives and lifestyle of poker players and poker businesses are chronicled and dissected. They are subjected to all manner of online scrutiny, chatter, and commentary to the delight and chagrin of the industry’s inhabitants, part-time warriors, devoted enthusiasts, dedicated personnel and visionary entrepreneurs--around the world.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

Can a Court Turn Law Upside Down on Poker Players?

Breaking News in South Carolina
Fighting Intolerable Insult to Poker Players

By Wendeen H. Eolis

Poker players WILL appeal for rehearing in South Carolina's Supreme Court guilty ruling against a low stakes un-raked home game in Mount Pleasant v. Chimento.

So you thought that online poker players had it tough when Full Tilt Poker bellied up! What do you think about risking your liberty if you play in a home game?

Even if poker is predominantly a game of skill.

Even if the law is determined to be unconstitutionally vague by sitting justices in a case.

Even if there is no rake taken.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Poker Skill Argument Falls on its Face Again: Old and New Reasons Used for Prosecuting Poker

By: Wendeen H. Eolis

After two years of silence in the case of the Town of Mount Pleasant v. Chimento, the South Carolina Supreme Court finally reached a decision. On November 21, 2012, the Court found a group of poker players (who had convened regularly in an un-raked low stakes home-game) as violating South Carolina law.

S.C. Supreme Court Reaches Clever Ruling

The state’s highest court reinstated the trial court’s convictions of the players. The State’s intermediate Appellate Court had reversed the trial court—in one of the most notable cases of its kind for its favorable disposition toward poker as a game exempt from anti-gambling laws because of the predominance of skill applied.

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (8 votes)

Debbie Does Poker

by Debbie Burkhead

Correction: My article in Issue 10 stated that you could purchase a minimum of five decks of playing cards from Quality Playing Cards but I’ve just been informed the minimum is now 15 decks. For more information on Quality Playing Cards visit www.customizedplayingcards.com. Mention Poker Player Newspaper and receive a 10% discount. Don’t forget “Best Pricing -- Guaranteed!"

 Need Extra Cash for the Holiday? Get over to the nearest Station Casino on December 12, 2012 from 12:01 am-11:59 pm, jump in a Jumbo hold’em game, flop four queens, and take home $12,012. Catch four queens on the turn or river and pocket $1,212. Players must have two queens in their hand. Don’t forget to log in your live poker playing hours to qualify for the $300,000 Poker Plus Tournament. Players must play 50 hours of live poker between now and December 15 to qualify. The first place winner will take home $40,000. There are seven cardrooms to choose from: Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock, Texas, Santa Fe, Palace, Sunset, and Boulder. For more information on Station’s poker happenings see their ad in this issue of Poker Player Newspaper.

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Black Friday, Lederer, Poker Stars, and the PPA: Kicking the Ball Down the Court

By Wendeen H. Eolis

 Early in the morning of July 28th the shot heard ’round the poker world was short, sweet, and accurate —but incomplete.  A three way deal had been inked hours earlier by Poker Stars (Stars), Full Tilt Poker (FTP), and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). It allowed for a settlement of the Government’s civil charges against Stars and FTP. It also allowed for the acquisition of the FTP brand by Stars via the DOJ and a process by which FTP players could be united with monies locked deep inside their FTP player accounts for more than a year.

 Until last week, there was no concrete hint of a very long lag time between the momentous news of a deal and the actual beginning of a process by which the DOJ would consider compensation to FTP”s victims in America.  Following a November 13 meeting between representatives of the Poker Players Alliance and the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, the PPA’s Executive Director, John Pappas, informed the poker world that FTP player refunds in America “are a long way away.”

Your rating: None Average: 4 (6 votes)

Full Tilt Poker: Reorganizing the Lederer Files!

By Wendeen H. Eolis

After sitting in the hot seat during two separate interviews with poker media last month, Howard Lederer, a former director and the best known voice of Full Tilt Poker (FTP) had enough.  

 Lederer had enjoyed the stature of Big Man on Campus in the poker world against the backdrop of FTP’s success, but once the Company was brought to its knees by the United States Department of Justice, he was tarred by the same brush applied to Ray Bitar, the former CEO of FTP with angry accusations.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (14 votes)

Howard Lederer: Has He Come to His Senses Too Late?

by Wendeen H. Eolis

Until Howard Lederer, former president and member of the Board of Directors of Full Tilt Poker (FTP) took interviews at Pokernews.com and twoplustwo.com, earlier this month, and then backed out of a third one planned with poker writer diamond flush, he avoided penetrating scrutiny by the media.

Woe is him! After hours upon hours of interviews,  Lederer has provided a heyday for poker media and possibly expanded peril for himself in his dealings with the Government, say several gaming lawyers.

Reporters are now more able than ever to dissect his every word and make mincemeat of his various contradictions, omissions, and vague recollections in these interviews.  And Lederer’s claim of approval by FTP counsel of each of the public statements produced by Full Tilt after April 7th, 21st and/or later,  has various lawyers  around the country raising their eyebrows and predicting that this statement will come back to haunt him.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (6 votes)

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Wendeen H. Eolis

World Series of Poker


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