by Haley Hintze
SOUTH POINT ON FAST TRACK TO REALMONEY ROLLOUT
Las Vegas’s South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa jumped ahead of the pack in the race to offer the first real-money online poker to Nevada residents when its multi-part application passed a Nevada Gaming Commission suitability in early August. The actual NGC approval is a virtual formality, and with services and software already in-house or under contract, South Point may be able to roll out its site before year’s end. Separately, Reno’s Monarch Casino also passed a suitability hearing, but has no software partner to date.
DOJ TO SEEK THIRD-PARTY PROCESSOR TO ASSIST FULL TILT REMISSION PROCESS
The deal between PokerStars and the US Department of Justice might have allowed for refunds for US-based former Full Tilt players, but now the tough part remains: finding someone to do the work. The DOJ recently hung a virtual “help wanted” sign in seeking a claims administrator to handle the process, which may distribute as much as $159 million to as many as 1.3 million former Full Tilt players. No process has yet been created to allow these former players to file a claim for their player balances, and it will likely be months before a payment processor is selected and procedures are set.
MARYLAND LEGISLATURE APPROVES POKER, TABLE GAMES
A measure allowing Maryland casinos to add poker and other table games to its offerings passed both halves of the Maryland Legislature in mid-August, moving on to an expected signature from Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Ongoing expansion in Maryland’s casino market means that six properties will soon be offering poker. No start date has been set, though a 2013 rollout seems likely.
TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT REACHED BETWEEN DOJ, BLANCA GAMES
One small element of the messy Absolute Poker situation moved closer to resolution when the Department of Justice and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, acting on behalf of the defunct Blanca Games, announced a tentative deal including the forfeiture of all Blanca assets. The company’s reach does not include all AP’s interests, but the DOJ is seeking AP’s software and mailing lists to resell to third parties to be used against fines and outstanding claims against the company, including stranded players, who likely rank low on the pecking order. The court has yet to rule on the DOJ’s motion to recognize the agreement.
FACEBOOK LAUNCHES REAL-MONEY GAMBLING… IN UK
Social-networking and gaming giant, Facebook, made its entry into real-money online gambling in August by introducing a realmoney “Bingo Friendzy” game to its UK customers. A real-money slots application is also under development, with games such as poker expected to follow. The move represents an about-face for the social giant, and represents a future collision point between social networking and traditional gambling businesses, both live and online.
COPA BACKS TRIBAL EXCLUSIVITY FOR STATE’S ONLINE POKER BILL
The California Online Poker Association (COPA) came out in support of California’s much-debated online-poker bill, SB 1463, but only if amendments are included making the state’s online-poker offerings the exclusive province of California tribal entities. COPA’s odd man out in the tradeoff would be the state’s racing associations, who were included in early measures, but would be barred from offering online poker under COPA’s vision of the bill. COPA’s shift came in an attempt to win the support of a couple of the state’s largest tribal casinos, who helped stymie earlier versions of the measure in the state’s legislature. COPA represents 31 California card rooms, in addition to 29 other tribal casinos.
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.