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.
Wendeen H. Eolis
by Wendeen H. Eolis
It has been one full month since the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) ordered the Borgata Casino to cancel the opening event of its annual Winter Poker Open, but New Jersey regulators have yet to reach a conclusion to their investigation of bogus chips that were introduced into the competition. The extended delay has led to escalating agitation among players according to Bruce Licausi attorney for Jeffrey Musterel, plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last Friday against the Borgata.
Musterel is a recreational poker player from Egg Harbor Township, near Atlantic City. He is among the 4000+ players who participated in the tournament, but failed to cash in the tainted competition. The primary thrust of the legal papers is that the Borgata failed in its obligations to adequately protect the playing field, adequately.
Who's on First?
by Haley Hintze
A new lobbying group favoring the regulated oversight of online poker and gambling has debuted. The new Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP) is funded by MGM International with support from the American Gaming Association. C4COP was created to counteract the anti-online push of CSIG, with C4COP immediately announcing a $250,000 media buy, primarily around Washington, D.C., to promote a pro-online political agenda. Among the political figures already signed to front the group are former GOP Congressmen Mike Oxley and Mary Bono and former Obama administrative staffer Jim Messina.
By Wendeen H. Eolis
Last week the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement finally announced that PokerStars' application for a gaming license has been suspended for two years—with one pointed equivocation. If the Company seeks relief from this suspension, based on appropriately “changed conditions” within the Company, the DGE says its license application may be reassessed sooner.
The DGE cites the unresolved indictment of PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg as the "primary" cause for the decision. Insiders close to the regulator say there are various other management concerns in the mix, notably including questions as to Isai Scheinberg’s current involvement in Poker Stars. A settlement agreement between the Company and the U.S. Department of Justice, (arising from the Government’s prosecution, U.S. v Scheinberg et al April 15, 2011) presently prohibits Isai Scheinberg from assuming any leadership role in the Company.
Truths and Consequences
It is hard to imagine separating the Scheinberg name from PokerStars; it stands for immense technical know-how in the world of online poker security, an uncanny understanding of the poker business, exceptional responsiveness to customers' wants and needs, and impeccable financial integrity with its patrons. These are the hallmarks of Isai Scheinberg’s PokerStars and they continue to be at the heart of the Company’s operating philosophy with its customers, under his son Mark Scheinberg, say their legions of fans. The younger Scheinberg now holds the reins as CEO,
The Company’s detractors, however, debate PokerStars' business principles beyond the glow of customer satisfaction. Reports of uneven relationships and questions of fairness on the part of the Company in their arrangements with various corporate business partners and a large force of independent contractors surface periodically. So do complaints of a corporate strategy that promotes and endorses "uninformed accusations" of character deficiencies of successful competitors and others not in favor with the Scheinbergs. The chief gripe noted by several competitors and former service providers is "bad-mouthing that emanates from the top of the pyramid,”
by Wendeen H. Eolis
As exclusively reported at pokerplayernewswpaper.com, on November 7th, PokerStars will not be part of the iGaming fraternity operating in New Jersey on its historic scheduled launch date of November 26th.
Look for statements from PokerStars and/or DGE pledging that the dance continues—but for more on the back story to this state of affairs, stay tuned to pokerplayernewspaper.com.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
The New Jersey gaming license application of Poker Stars has been a bruiser after a series of battles instigated and propelled by indignant opponents united under the umbrella of the American Gaming Association (AGA). But the fallout from the warring parties’ activities is far from over—regardless of the outcome on the PokerStars application this week.
The time worn precept that a zealous foe who seeks to bury his target had best to build two graves may apply here. The AGA has succeeded, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in spotlighting PokerStars as a company that poses serious suitability issues in the context of New Jersey’s traditional casino licensing standards.
At the same time, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s disorganized and dragged out proceedings, have provided regulators in other jurisdictions quite the primer on potential pitfalls in licensing deliberations. Perhaps as important, regulators have been motivated to take a harder look at the suitability of potential licensees, even if already licensed elsewhere. This food for thought was not likely anticipated by other gaming companies now being held accountable to more stringent standards than ever before.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
This past week has seen a frenzy of activity over the license application submitted by PokerStars to New Jersey regulators.
This morning previously proven sources with direct knowledge of current affairs reconfirm PokerStars remains shut out of the starting line up for online gaming in the Garden State.
"No approval tomorrow," say law firms with direct knowledge of late breaking developments. Insiders closely associated with PokerStars say founders Isai and Mark Scheinberg are actively preparing for worse news on the near horizon.
More news coming shortly on the pressure brought to bear by competitors outraged by "unfair competition." One lawyer peripherally involved says current "mess" is made by New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement making promises to PokerStars that we're not in concert with New Jersey regulatory tradition of stringent suitability requirements.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
Update Bulletin: PokerStars Faces Red Lights in NJ
After months of investigation by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the regulators have made their determinations and are expected to step up to the plate today with announcements of the companies licensed for Internet gambling in NJ, on the opening date of November 26.
The lead up to the announcement has been accompanied by plenty of turmoil among warring parties. Throughout this period, however, PokerStars and its boosters including various state officials, PS private lobbyists, and high placed friends, have exuded confidence without interruption, only to hear of their failure to secure a license at this time.
Regulators are said to have railed against pressure to turn a blind eye on the outstanding criminal case against PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, arising from his indictment dating back to 2011. Word has also leaked out through sources close to officials in Atlantic City and in the Statehouse of growing concern as to the role of PokerStars founder in the Company's current activities.
While Isai Scheinberg is described by the Company as a "Fellow" and not part of management various opponents to PS licensing are continuing to argue that Scheinberg still operates within the Company as if he is in charge, with respect to matters that interest him. If true, this would violate the Company's settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice in connection with its legal troubles arising from the indictment and companion civil case U.S. v Scheinberg et al.
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 Wendeen H. Eolis
Just as the 2013 World Series of Poker was beginning to wind up its engines for the main event at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX-) rolled into town for his third visit to the annual WSOP; this time to rev up support for his updated poker bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Poker Players Alliance hosted a Town Hall Meeting designed to preview Barton’s online gambling bill HR 2666, the “Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013,” which was subsequently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, July 12.
While the PPA has been beating the drums for Barton’s “poker only” bill it is also applauding the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013 (HR 2282) introduced by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) last month. The King bill proposes “poker plus” other casino game options excluding, sports bets.
Unity is hard to come by in the business of online gambling and this week, from out of the blue, came a new wrinkle in the debate of online gambling consumer protections. The complexities in bringing online gambling to U.S. players seamlessly across the country grows at every turn, and so does the cast of characters with unique skin in the legislative game—at both the state and federal level.
Barton and King—Different Visions