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 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.
Tom McEvoy and David Chicotsky will again be teaching their tournament strategy at the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas on July 3, 2013, a day before the annual Poker Player of the Year Tournament. Their seminars are part of an overall package that begins at 9:00 AM to Noon, with lunch and other refreshments supplied. The second session starts at 1:00 PM and ends at 4:00 PM. At 7:00 that evening the participants will play in a satellite tournament for entry into the next day’s Poker Player of the Year event. The fee for this entire activity is $390.
Last year’s participants at these seminars apparently learned quite a bit, many of them placing at or close to the final table, thus proving the value of this outstanding poker education event. The blend of McEvoy’s decades of tournament experience, he was the WSOP World Champion in the 1980’s and young David Chicotsky’s internet and recent tournament experience, he was the 2008 Internet Player of the Year, has produced a learning experience second to none. It’s something you won’t want to miss as it is sure to improve your game, whether a beginner or an old pro.
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
Poker Player Achilleas Kallakis, known as “The Don,” was convicted on Thursday in London court on fraud charges. In a case described as Britain’s biggest ever mortgage scam, he and co-conspirator Alexander M. Williams swindled £750m (=$1.2 billion) from the Allied Irish Bank. The pair also obtained 29m euros ($38.8 million) in loans from the Bank of Scotland.
Using an office in central London’s Mayfair district as a base, the two used a forged a guarantee from a Hong Kong company to get loans exceeding the purchase price of their properties. The case was referred to authorities by Allied Irish Bank and the Hong Kong company in January 2009.
Kallakis, a former travel agent, cashed in several live poker games in 2005-6. He faces seven years jail time, Williams five.
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
CHARGES UNSUPPORTABLE BY EVIDENCE
Former Full Tilt owners and board members Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson have re-filed motions to dismiss civil-forfeiture proceedings connected to the US Department of Justice’s ongoing “Black Friday” crackdown against former US-facing poker companies. The DOJ seeks more than $40 million each from Lederer and Ferguson, and the two originally filed a motion to dismiss in July 2012. That motion was rendered moot by the DOJ’s filing of a “Second Amended Complaint,” which added allegations against several different defendants and spent dozens of paragraphs detailing expensive assets purchased by Lederer with funds distributed from Full Tilt. The latest motion reasserts that the evidence proffered to date does not warrant action against the two, who were among the founders of the site.
DOJ TO HIRE FULL TILT REMISSIONS ADMINISTRATOR BY JANUARY 2013
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 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.”