by Haley Hintze
SOUTH POINT AWAITS NGC SUITABILITY HEARING
Las Vegas staple, South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa moved forward with its announced plans to offer real-money online poker to Nevadans by year’s end after being slotted for one of the Nevada Gaming Commission’s suitability-hearing slots in early August. South Point and its owner, Michael Gaughan, have filed multiple applications covering all aspects of a new Nevada online-poker enterprise, and continue the development and testing of a new South Point Poker platform, to be rolled out in the coming months.
FULL TILT’S BURTNICK SURRENDERS TO US AUTHORITIES
Only weeks after a surrender and plea deal for Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar, the firm’s payment-processing director, Nelson Burtnick, surrendered to US authorities on related “Black Friday” charges. Bitar and Burtnick were the subjects of a DOJ-authored “superseding indictment” which restricted and enhanced the charges against the pair, which were largely banking-and wire-fraud in nature. Burtnick was arrested at Newark Liberty Airport after returning from Ireland to face the charges, and was subsequently released on $500,000 bail.
MARYLAND TO CONSIDER INTERNET GAMBLING
The race among mid-Atlantic states to regulate various forms of online gambling picked up another entrant when Maryland legislators announced plans to consider internet gaming this fall. Maryland’s casinos face pressure from neighboring states Delaware and New Jersey, with Delaware already having authorized several forms of online gambling, including poker, earlier this year, while New Jersey legislators are expected to pass a similar measure this fall after several near misses.
ABSOLUTE POKER’S BECKLEY RECEIVES 14-MONTH SENTENCE
Absolute Poker vice president, Brent Beckley, was sentenced to a 14-month term in a federal work camp in late July after reaching a plea deal with Department of Justice officials. Beckley was AP’s head of payment processing, and returned voluntarily to the US to face Black Friday-related charges. Beckley will also forfeit slightly more than $300,000 as part of his plea arrangement. Beckley will serve his term at a minimum-security work camp attached to the federal system’s prison in Englewood, CO, and will be reporting to authorities later this year.
INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE RECONVENES OVER ONLINE POKER, TOGA DRAFT MEASURE RELEASED
The US Senate’s Committee on Indian Affairs reconvened in late July with its fourth hearing over the pros and cons of online poker, titled “Oversight Hearing on Regulation of Tribal Gaming: From Brick & Mortar to the Internet.” Committee and tribal leaders acknowledged pressure from other state and federal regulatory measures as the impetus for reconvening the talks, and introduced a preliminary draft version of the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012 (TOGA), which, if passed, would authorize nationwide US online poker for players 21 and over, excepting jurisdictions where such gambling is specifically banned, such as the state of Washington. The committee adjourned without formal action, with additional hearings yet to be scheduled.
THREE-YEAR TERM FOR “BLACK FRIDAY” PAYMENT PROCESSOR, IRA RUBIN
Colorful payment processor, Ira Rubin, received a three-year term for his role in processing payments for US-facing online-poker companies in late July. The sentence was the stiffest handed down to any Black Friday defendant to date, reflecting both Rubin’s relative non-cooperation with American authorities, and his previous long criminal history. Rubin was captured in Guatemala while trying to flee to Thailand, beyond the reach of American extradition efforts, and was also reported to have attempted to secretly transfer millions in cash and gold for later access. Rubin’s criminal history spans decades and includes earlier telemarketing scams unrelated to online poker.
SCHEINBERG TO STEP ASIDE AS POKERSTARS BOSS
Among the secondary aspects of the massive Department of Justice / PokerStars / Full Tilt settlement, was a requirement for PokerStars founder, Isai Scheinberg, to step down as Stars’ director in order to help resolve Stars’ ongoing legal case with the US. Stars’ executives. Scheinberg and Paul Tate are two of the final three Black Friday defendants to remain outside American jurisdiction, though neither is expected to enter the US any time soon. The final Black Friday indictee, Absolute Poker CEO, Scott Tom, remains at large.
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.