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
The proposed Reid-Kyl federal online poker legislation was dropped in early December by its primary supporter, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), after fierce budgetary splits on larger political matters made the attachment of Reid-Kyl to another bill impossible. Both sides treated online poker as something of a hot potato, with each party blaming the other for failing to secure proper backing for the bill, which was supported by the American Gaming Association, and the Poker Players Alliance. While co-author Sen. Jon Kyl is retiring, Reid has promised to pursue the concept in a future Congress, perhaps in early 2013.
NEW JERSEY ONLINE GAMBLING BILL PASSES STATE LEGISLATURE, REACHES CHRISTIE’S DESK
A modified version of a New Jersey online gambling measure, including poker, sailed through votes in both of the state’s legislative bodies, after being re-introduced in early December. The bill now moves on to the desk of Governor Chris Christie to await a signing or veto. Christie used a technical veto on a 2011 version of the same bill, citing constitutionality concerns. However, minor changes to the bill, the late-2011 Justice Department reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, and the continuing economic malaise of the state’s gambling industry, have all strengthened the bill’s chances of being signed. Even if vetoed, the legislative forces led by State Sen. Ray Lesniak may have enough votes to override and make New Jersey the third state to formally authorize online poker.
CAESARS GETS ONLINE GO-AHEAD FROM NEVADA GAMING COMMISSION
As expected, Caesars Entertainment’s Caesars Interactive division received formal approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission to offer intrastate online poker. Caesars got the thumbs-up on December 20th after breezing through a suitability hearing two weeks earlier. Caesars operates several important casino brands in addition to the World Series of Poker, with a WSOP-branded site among the likeliest new offerings from the firm. Caesars sites are expected to debut in 2013.
SHFL, AMAYA INK ONGAME DEAL
Canada’s Amaya Gaming and Las Vegas-based SHFL, parent company of Shuffle Master, have announced a distribution deal allowing SHFL to represent Amaya’s Ongame online poker network to other clients. SJFL had previously agreed to purchase Ongame itself, backing out of a deal with earlier owner bwin.party before Ongame was sold early in 2012 to Amaya. The agreement calls for as much $10 million in licensing payments from SHFL to Amaya, depending on which US state (or federal) markets become open to online poker. SHFL is already a licensed service provider in Nevada.
CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER BILL REINTRODUCED
A bill seeking to authorize intrastate online poker sites for California residents has been reintroduced by one of its primary supporters, State Sen. Roderick Wright. Wright’s SB 51, the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2013, is the same as last year’s hotly debated SB 1463, which collapsed due to in-fighting between various pro-poker factions. One of those groups, the California Online Poker Association (COPA), which represented many California tribal interests, collapsed following the 2012 measure’s demise.
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.