by Haley Hintze
Online Poker Hits Illinois Legislative Agenda
An out-of-the-blue measure to create an intrastate online poker network serving Illinois residents garnered surprising strength after being attached to a much-debated casino expansion bill. A half dozen new casinos in locations including downtown Chicago and the state’s second-largest city, Rockford, garnered support from a bipartisan majority, clearing Illinois’ state Senate with ease, but facing negative comments from Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Illinois faces massive budget shortfalls and the bill, backed by the state’s existing casinos and racetracks, is being pitched as a tool for jobs and revenue generation. State Senate officials claim having enough votes to possibly override a Quinn veto.
Acevedo Tops HPT Majestic Star
The Heartland Poker Tour’s recent trip to the Chicago suburbs meant a breakthrough win for Daniel Acevedo, who ran down early chip leader Jerry Gumila on his way to a $133,081 payday. Acevedo helped track down the cold-decked Gumila, who faded to fifth despite starting with half the chips at the six-player final table. James Chestnut took second for $75,281, while Dawn Sanders finished third for $48,395.
$1.75 Million Settlement in Celebrity Poker Clawback
The victims of convicted Ponzi schemer Bradley Ruderman will share a portion of a $1.75 million settlement from the winners of high-stakes celebrity poker games where Ruderman dropped his illgotten gains. According to the New York Post, attorneys representing Ruderman’s victims originally sued 22 celebrity plaintiffs for a total of $5.2 million. Not all of the games’ participants were sued; the games’ rotating lineup included Tobey Maguire, Leo DiCaprio, Gabe Kaplan, Rick Salomon, Nick Cassavetes, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and others. Maguire was among the first to settle, reaching an agreement last November, though none of the game’s participants are believed to have known where Ruderman’s stakes originated. Ruderman continues to serve a 10-year sentence on his fraud conviction.
Not Quite as Slick as Ocean’s Eleven
Another snatch-and-grab theft of chips at a major Strip casino? Not a good idea, as Californian Michael Quinn Belton recently learned. Belton, 24, was arrested after being wrestled to the floor by Bellagio security, losing his wig-and-sunglasses disguise in the process, after briefly grabbing $115,000 in high-denomination chips from a blackjack tray while a compatriot used pepper spray on staff and nearby patrons. The co-conspirator eluded capture and remains at large. At his arraignment, Belton testified that he became involved in the scheme after answering a Craigslist ad, and pointed investigators toward the other man and a possibly fictional ringleader who supposedly masterminded the failed theft; both of these others were named “Carlos”. Belton is currently being held on several charges, including robbery, burglary and conspiracy.
Conservative Leaders Call for “UIGEA 2”
A coalition of 12 leaders of prominent ultra- conservative and familyvalues groups recently wrote a plea to Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-SD), asking for a reaffirmation and strengthening of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and promising their support for such a measure. Poker Players Alliance VP Rich Muny publicized the plea, originally published by Catholic Advocate, dubbing it “UIGEA 2”. Among the conservative leaders included were Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum), Tom McCluskey (Family Research Council Action), Colin Hanna (Let Freedom Ring), Bill Donohue (Catholic League), Jim Backlin (Christian Coalition), and Dr. Richard Land (Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Coalition).
Colorado Casinos Draft Online Poker Measure
Colorado joined the list of states who might be part of a future second wave approving and regulating online poker. The state’s casinos, organized as the Colorado Gaming Association, have drafted a bill seeking to authorize online gaming for Colorado players. The bill’s drafters seek sponsorship and are unlikely to seek movement in the state’s legislature before 2013.
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.