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
A measure offering several amendments to Nevada’s existing online-poker law has revealed a poison pill which would prevent PokerStars and other US-facing sites that operated after 2006 from receiving Nevada licensure for at least ten years, if ever. The latest version of Assembly Bill 114, currently in the hearing stage, sets a cutoff date of December 31, 2006 for former US-facing sites. Those who remained after that date, whether individuals or corporate entities, would be deemed unsuitable to receive a license for a ten-year period. The measure goes further, demanding that any post-2006, US-facing entities also contact both the US federal authorities and each of the 50 US states while admitting their former activities and waiving their presumed rights to a court defense. Since neither PokerStars nor any other site is likely to agree to such a provision, the measure, if passed, would leave Stars on the outside of the Nevada market, looking in.
ANTIGUA RECEIVES WTO APPROVAL TO RETALIATE IN ONLINE-GAMING DISPUTE
The World Trade Organization has granted the Caribbean island nation of Antigua & Barbuda the right to abrogate up to $21 million annually in US-protected intellectual property items in a long-delayed follow-up to a WTO arbitration award granted to Antigua in 2007. The WTO approval requires Antigua to submit a plan of what specific goods (movies, music, etc.) will be manufactured without fear of US copyright reprisal, which Antigua has yet to finalize. The dispute stems from the US’s former agreement to allow international online gambling between WTO member countries, a pact which the US agreed to over a decade ago but later tried to unilaterally withdraw from without compensation to Antigua. Antigua’s tiny island economy was decimated by the effects of the 2006 UIGEA, which crippled online gambling transactions between Americans and offshore sites.
WASHINGTON LAW SEEKS TO REMOVE ONLINEPOKER “FELONY” CATEGORIZATION
The only state in the US where the playing of online poker is a felony, Washington, may no longer be in that category if a new state measure is enacted. A group of state lawmakers have introduced House Bill 1824, which would reduce the penalty for playing online poker from the possibility of years in jail (as a Class C felony) to a mere $50 fine. The original law was pushed through by former State Rep. Margarita Prentice, with extensive backing from WA tribal casinos who sought to drive poker players into their casinos. However, the law has been viewed as so draconian that state authorities have refused to prosecute any Washington online poker players to date.
JERRY BUSS, LAKERS OWNER AND POKER PLAYER, PASSES AT 80
The poker world was saddened by the recent death of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, a veteran poker enthusiast whose warm presence often graced poker tables throughout Southern California and Las Vegas for decades. Tributes poured in from throughout the poker world following Buss’s passing after an 18-month battle with cancer, and the gossip site TMZ reported that the WSOP will be considering naming a seven-card-stud event (Buss’s favorite game) in his honor. Buss logged four WSOP cashes and one final table in his career, though he was more known as a cash-game player, appearing on both “Poker After Dark” and “High Stakes Poker”. Buss’s love for poker was such that on multiple occasions, he skipped important NBA Lakers games for a few extra hours at the poker tables.
Veteran poker-industry writer/editor Haley Hintze is the author of an upcoming book on the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet online cheating scandals, to be released later this year.