by Wendeen H. Eolis
Now that Amaya Gaming has completed its purchase of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg and his son Mark, for whom he founded the company, are totally out. Daniel Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya, and the architect of the PokerStars deal, is totally in. And today, U. S. gaming companies are better positioned to compete against the online behemoth, than ever before.
Not coincidentally, the management change has put PokerStars back in line for prompt licensing consideration by regulators in New Jersey. Less expected, however, are the kind words a Caesars executive bestows on the Amaya CEO. But, before a relationship between Amaya Gaming and American poker players moves forward in earnest, with plans to hook up online gaming in America from shore to shore, the Company will need to go through more than a few hoops.
PokerStars Train Rolling Across America
Things are looking up in New Jersey as PokerStars prepares to settle down, "suitably," in Atlantic City. The PokerStars partnership with Resorts is the talk of the town. New Jersey regulators are reportedly convinced that Poker Stars now deserves a welcome mat and are all but drooling over $$$ projected for the State. Wise casino executives, from the marina to the boardwalk are past their frustration over the anticipated competition; looking instead for the silver lining. Only die-hard naysayers are still warning, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings!"
In contrast, California is an unending battleground in the igaming world. Should PokerStars be admitted to the gaming party or should Poker Stars be excluded by a "bad actor clause;" that is the ongoing question. Casino industry lobbyists and legal experts at opposite ends of the pole have been opining on how to proceed with online gambling legislation. One side of the legal argument revolves around the Constitution. The other side invokes states’ rights that may effectively trump the Constitution. For lawmakers it is a classic case of Fiorello’s song, “Politics and Poker.” One online poker bill has just died on the vine. A second one threatens to face a similar fate, likely to push the debate down the road into 2015.
California, here we come—maybe
Earlier this month, longtime Whittier law professor and gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose took on Constitutional scholar and Harvard Professor, Lawrence Tribe. Rose rebutted Tribe’s legal opinion concerning the two online poker bills pending in the California legislature. Tribe challenges the “bad actor” clause in proposed legislation. Rose defends it. Tribe is advocating for a client. at Rose is engaged in an intellectual exercise .
Tribe relies on the Constitution to assail the “bad actor clause.” He says it is a pointed effort to cut out his client, PokerStars, from the re-emerging industry in the U.S. Proponents of the California-based bills, generally, make no bones about seeking to bar Poker Stars from entering the U.S market, anytime soon. And California lawmakers seem have plenty of like-minded company from Nevada to Pennsylvania. But Rose’s article sidesteps pointing fingers. He looks at the subject matter academically. He zeroes in on states’ rights, and police powers that provide for a state to protect its citizens, to make his argument that the bad actor clause is legally justified.
Rose’s Grandstanding Makes Sense!
by M.G. Smith
If you're lucky enough to win some serious money at the WSOP (or any other tournament) and you're wondering what you need check out a great article by tax expert Russ Fox explaining how to pay your taxes when you cash in at the WSOP. This helps answer some big questions regarding this subject.
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.