by Haley Hintze
SOUTH POINT RECEIVES FORMAL NGC APPROVAL
South Point Poker, LLC, the online counterpart to Las Vegas’s South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, received the first official Nevada online-poker operator’s license in late August, following its previous passing of a suitability hearing. With software development already entering the testing phase, South Point will likely be the first Nevada online poker site to debut, probably before year’s end. Reno’s Monarch casino received Nevada’s second interactive operator license only moments after South Point, but has not aggressively pursued a market-entry strategy.
POKER DECLARED GAME OF SKILL IN EDNY COURT DECISION
Federal Judge Jack Weinstein has declared poker a game of skill in throwing out the conviction of a Staten Island poker-game entrepreneur in an Eastern District of New York (EDNY) federal case. Lawrence Dicristina was found guilty of operating a gambling business under the IGBA (Illegal Gambling Business Act) by a jury, but their verdict was tossed out by Judge Weinstein in a 120-page decision citing expert testimony put forth by the Poker Players Alliance. The decision remains nonbinding on other courts and federal prosecutors have indicated tentative plans to appeal.
LEDERER SEEKS LEGAL CONFERENCE OVER IGBA VALIDITY
Within days of the Dicristina/IGBA decision, lawyrs for embattled former Full Tilt owner Howard Lederer petitioned the court for a hearing to address the impact of the Weinstein decision on Lederer’s own civil case, with lawyers for fellow civil Full Tilt defendants Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst expected to do the same. Southern District of New York (SDNY) Department of Justice attorneys responded quickly, asserting that the IGBA-validity arguments had little relevance in the Lederer case, that the Dicristina decision was non-binding, and that a superceding indictment against Lederer and the others may yet be filed.
GOP EXPANDS ANTI ONLINE GAMBLING PLANK IN 2012 PLATFORM
Online-poker fans hoping for a legislative breakthrough at the federal level were dismayed to learn that Republican Party policymakers included a plank specifically attacking online gambling in its 2012 platform. The GOP policy plank called for a return to previous DOJ interpretations of the 1961 Wire Act, which prior to 2012 was used as a weapon against all forms of internet gambling. Last year’s clarification by Attorney General Eric Holder defines the Wire act as applying only to sportsbetting, rather than to state-run lotteries or other activities such as online poker. The GOP platforms of 2000, 2004 and 2008 contained no such Wire Act reference.
ISAAC FORCES GULF COAST POKER CANCELLATION
Several Gulf Coast poker rooms were affected by Hurricane Isaac in late August, with the most severe blow probably dealt to the Biloxi, MS Beau Rivage. Casino officials cancelled the majority of the 2012 Gulf Coast Poker Championships after the casino itself was ordered shuttered during Isaac’s passage, which killed at least seven and caused about $2 billion in damage, according to early estimates. Pinnacle Entertainment’s soft opening of its new L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge, LA was likewise delayed.
“ALOHA” MEANS “DROP THOSE CHIPS”
Then there’s the tale of a small-stakes poker game in Maui, Hawaii, where nine poker players were arrested following a raid on a private game, following what the players have alleged were false tips by a couple of the game’s occasional players who were seeking leniency on unrelated charges. The Maui Poker Association issued a statement asserting the raid and arrests were unjust because the game was unraked and fell under Hawaii’s social-gambling statutes, which provide some of the only exceptions to the law in one of the United States’ most stringent anti-gambling states. The affected players, however, face lengthy court battles and costs in any attempt to recoup their seized poker funds. 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.
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.