Connecticut Senate Approves New Casino, MGM Vows Vengeance

The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill last Wednesday that authorizes the state’s two gaming tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, to build a $300 million satellite casino in East Windsor. The bill previously passed the Senate in May. It will now be sent to Gov. Dan Malloy. Malloy hasn’t signaled if he will sign the legislation. Even if he does, the casino might never be built — MGM plans on challenging it, if it becomes law. Why an East Windsor casino? The project’s proponents hope the casino will help offset the anticipated cannibalization from new casinos in Massachusetts and New York. East Windsor is in northern Connecticut, about 15 minutes from the Massachusetts border. The town is less than a half-hour from Springfield, Massachusetts, where MGM plans to open a billion-dollar casino in the fall of 2018. Both casinos sites are located right on the very busy I-91 roadway. The tribes likely believe their casino would act as a choke point for travelers who would otherwise drive the extra 30 minutes to Springfield, but wouldn’t drive the extra hour to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. Without the East Windsor casino, MGM Springfield is equidistant or closer than the current tribal casinos for most Connecticut residents. Plus, its newness would likely make it a more attractive destination. MGM challenging the casino in court As noted in the opening, the bill will face legal challenges. According to MassLive.com, MGM Resorts International Senior VP and legal counsel Uri Clinton says his company “will continue to vigorously advocate in the courts as we seek to protect the constitutional rights of any company hoping to do business in Connecticut.” MGM isn’t necessarily challenging the location of the casino. Rather, MGM opposes the closed process that granted the license to the two Connecticut tribes without considering other proposals. Clinton commented after the House vote: MGM advocates casino near NY Of course, MGM would love to see the casino project moved farther from its Massachusetts casino location. In a June op-ed, MGM CEO Jim Murren let the cat out of the bag about wanting the state to open up its process to commercial casinos. In the op-ed, Murren calls for an open process. He also makes the case for locating the casino in Bridgeport, which happens to be his hometown. Bridgeport is in the southwestern corner of Connecticut, about an hour-and-a-half from Springfield. It is only 65 miles from New York City. Effectively, MGM’s goal is to open up the process not to build a better casino in East Windsor. Its end goal is to build a better casino farther away from Massachusetts though. As Murren notes in his op-ed:

Pechanga Casino Softens Previous Stance On Online Poker

Located on the Pechanga Indian Reservation in Temecula, California, (midway between San Diego and Riverside and about 90 minutes from Los Angeles) the Pechanga Resort and Casino is the largest and one of the most powerful tribal casinos in California. History of Pechanga Resort and Casino Pechanga Resort and Casino opened for business in 2002 with much fanfare and the property has not disappointed. The casino was a massive project and the Pechanga Indians quickly cashed in on their investment, enough so that they added a 100,000 square foot expansion in 2004, more than doubling the original size of the property. A 54 table poker room was added during the 2004 expansion, turning the casino into a prime destination for poker players. The poker room is on the second floor of the property and is fairly easy to find—which is not always the case in these mammoth resort casinos. Pechanga Resort and Casino today Pechanga is considered a 5-Star property and it lives up to that billing. This is not a local’s casino; this is a high-end property with a lot of upscale amenities. Pechanga’s poker room is non-smoking and offers all the amenities players have come to expect from a top flight poker room, including tableside food and beverage options, separate cashier cages, a four-sided Jumbotron style TV setup in the center of the room, free wifi, and discounted hotel rooms for players. As a complete resort destination, Pechanga offers gaming, live entertainment options in their 1,200-seat theater, shopping, nightlife, ten fine and casual dining options, a full spa, 18-hole golf course, over 500 hotel rooms with 64 suites, and more. Where They Stand Now in the Poker World Like most full resort casinos, Pechanga’s poker operations are certainly not their featured attraction, but Pechanga’s poker room is well run, it’s well lit with a great atmosphere, and is usually very lively at all hours of the day. It’s certainly not The Commerce or The Bike, but Pechanga is a great place to play poker. The poker room offers a good variety of games and limits up to the middle limits, as well as six separate jackpots just waiting to be hit. Limit games at the casino go up to $20/$40 with a Kill, with No Limit action games spread up to $10/$20. Most of the action is low and mid-limit No Limit Holdem, although the property does regularly spread the intriguing five-card Omaha variant. Because of their out of the way location, Pechanga doesn’t attract much in the way of major tournament series. Here is a look at the current daily and weekly tournaments offered at Pechanga. Reward Program The Pechanga Reward Program is called The Club. The Club, has four separate tiers players can reach based on the amount of play they give the casino. The amount of comp dollars you will earn at the Pechanga poker tables varies based on the limits you are playing, but you can use $1/hour as a reference point. Handicapping Their Chances for Online Poker Pechanga’s Tribal Chairman, Mark Macarro, has publicly come out against online gambling and online poker in California. Speaking for the tribe, Macarro has been against all efforts to legalize online poker in the state up until very recently when their stance has softened and they have supported some smaller scale iGaming bills that are intrastate and online poker only. However, these objections were likely coming from an economic standpoint, where Pechanga (as one of the wealthiest casinos in the state) didn’t see the need to add online gaming as they felt it would cannibalize their live gaming. But with New Jersey and Nevada proving that online gambling does not impact live gaming in any meaningful way Pechanga seems to have changed their tune and is now supporting certain poker only bills. The most recent bill supported by Pechanga, AB 2291, was introduced on Friday February 22, 2014. Previous Post Next Post pechanga About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

Massachusetts Hopes PlayMyWay Teaches Gamblers To Play The Responsible Way

In its first year, more than 10 percent of eligible customers at the Plainridge Park Casino signed up for PlayMyWay, a gambling addiction prevention pilot program on a trial run in Massachusetts casinos. Of the more than 12,000 patrons who enrolled in the program, less than 2,000 (about 16 percent) have un-enrolled. That means roughly eight percent of current Plainridge patrons (10,857 players) registered for and continue to use PlayMyWay. Massachusetts Gaming Commission Director of Research and Problem Gambling Mark Vander Linden presented the data at a public hearing before the commission on June 14. Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance should release their initial report on the efficacy of PlayMyWay in August. Massachusetts’ wide-ranging research on gambling The research on PlayMyWay is a single piece of a larger study at the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences. The university has been tasked by the state to perform a “comprehensive, multi-year research project… on the economic and social impacts of introducing casino gambling in Massachusetts.” To carry out the research, the university created the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA). The SEIGMA research helps gauge the impact of gambling expansion. It also helps the university make “annual scientifically-based recommendations to the Legislature.” What is PlayMyWay? PlayMyWay is a pre-commitment program. In other words, there is a difference between it and similar programs in other countries. PlayMyWay eliminated the commitment. Instead, it acts as more of a budgeting tool and even a play/spend tracker. Per Vander Linden’s report to the MGC: Enrolling in PlayMyWay I live about 20 minutes away from Plainridge Casino, so I have first-hand experience with the program. It’s fairly unobtrusive. Here’s an overview of how it works. When customer insert their Marquee Rewards cards for the first time, they will be asked if they’d like to enroll in the program. If they select “no,” they can begin gambling. If they select “yes,” the machine prompts them to set a wagering budget of their choosing. The entire process takes a minute or two to complete. Casino incentives to join program At Plainridge Casino, the casino offers customers a $5 food voucher to join the program. That isn’t much of an incentive though. Especially when considering the casino offers $20 or more in free slot play when players sign up for its Marquee Rewards Program. According to Vander Linden, only 25 percent of the patrons who receive the food voucher redeem it. It’s fair to assume it’s not a strong enough incentive to noticeably impact participation. Vander Linden speculates the high participation rate in PlayMyWay is a byproduct of the GameSense advisors and casino employees. Both groups “actively promote, enroll, and answer any questions which casino guests may have about the program.” It will be interesting to see if one of the recommendations SEIGMA makes is for Massachusetts casinos to start offering PlayMyWay registrants a bigger carrot or some type of ongoing reward for continued participation in the program.

Connecticut Court Gives MGM The Mutombo Finger Wag On East Windsor Case

MGM Resorts International is behind on the scorecard after the first two rounds. Legal arguments aimed at blocking a proposed casino on the Connecticut-Massachusetts border were found lacking last week. As a result, the dismissal of MGM’s case against Connecticut was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Despite its second legal defeat, the company doesn’t have any plans to stop fighting. After all, MGM has a $1 billion casino investment in Springfield, Massachusetts to protect. MGM is “undeterred in our goal of having the opportunity to compete in Connecticut,” MGM Resorts legal counsel Uri Clinton said in a statement after the ruling. The crux of the East Windsor casino lawsuit The Connecticut legislature recently passed a bill that authorizes a $300 million tribal casino on non-tribal land, without any type of bidding/proposal process. The measure also authorized the construction of a third casino in the state. It effectively handed the license for that casino to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. MGM, which happens to be building a Massachusetts casino less than 30 minutes from the Connecticut border, has been highly critical of the process from the outset. In a statement following the House vote, Clinton said: MGM wants an open bidding process. It would also like to see the project moved south, far away from its yet-to-be-completed Massachusetts project. With Connecticut deciding to pre-award the license to its two gaming tribes, MGM is doing everything it can to block the bill. Thus far, courts have sided with the state of Connecticut. Case dismissed over lack of evidence In a prior decision, a Connecticut judge already dismissed the case brought by MGM against the state of Connecticut. The company suffered its second defeat last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling. When it dismissed the case, the 2nd Circuit gave MGM International the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag, calling the company’s claims that the legislature’s decision to fast track the joint project between the state’s two gaming tribes put MGM at a competitive disadvantage, “purely speculative.” MGM can still fight The tribes are happy with the ruling, but the court did leave the door open for MGM to continue pursuing legal action. According to the Boston Herald, in his opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge John Walker Jr. wrote the following in a footnote: The question now is: can MGM prove they are being harmed?

Pala Casino’s Online Poker Site Is In The Works

Located on the Pala Indian Reservation near San Diego, California, the Pala Casino Resort and Spa is a Las Vegas style resort casino, offering everything from slot machines to table games to poker, as well as luxury hotel, dining, shopping, and other high-end amenities to its guests. History of Pala Casino One of the newest casinos in California, construction on the Pala Casino began in early 2000, with the casino opening its doors to the general public on April 2, 2001. Over two years later the remainder of the project was completed including the properties 500-room hotel and massive 10,000 square foot spa. Pala has been become well-known for its enormous spa, which has won several awards including making the Top 100 list of spas in the United States in 2012. The Pala Casino Resort and Spa is a AAA Four Diamond rated property in its own right, and one of the nicer, more upscale casinos you’ll step foot in. Pala Casino today The Pala Casino Resort and Spa is right in that sweet spot of offering top flight gaming options as well as terrific amenities, which allows the property to appeal to a diverse group of visitors. It’s one of the few casinos where you can go eat dinner, catch a show, and head to the spa, and not even feel the need to gamble. But they are a casino and there are a lot of gaming options to choose from! Just how many? A lot. Pala Casino offers some 2,000 slot machines, nearly 100 table games, as well as a small but comfortable 15-table poker room. The poker room at Pala Casino is non-smoking and tableside food and beverage service. The Pala poker room has TV’s, good cell and wifi reception, jackpots, as well as a phone-in list for certain games. Where They Stand Now in the Poker World The main poker room is certainly small, but Pala does have the resources and space to host tournaments, and both daily and major tournament series are played at the casino. Cash games at Pala are for the most part low limit affairs. Typically you’ll find action up to $4/$8 with a “kill” in Limit games, although at peak hours the stakes offered can easily double that amount, and $8/$16 games with a “kill” are not uncommon. No limit games are typically spread at the $1/$2 and $2/$3 limits, with a $5/$5 game spread on occasion. Major tournaments don’t come through the Pala Casino all that often, but it has hosted several major tournament series in the past. The daily tournament schedule pretty good for a small poker room, with anywhere from one to three daily tournaments hosted by the casino on most days. You can see the Pala’s full tournament schedule here. Overall the room is small, it’s out of the way, and it’s not really a haven for professional players. If you’re in the area and are looking for some low limit poker action it’s a good room to visit. Reward Program Pala offers a pretty good rewards program for their poker players. Comp dollars average about $1/hour for cash game play and poker players can also receive discounted rates on rooms at the casino’s hotel as well. You can learn more about Pala’s Rewards Program at their website. Handicapping Their Chances for Online Poker Pala has recently jumped on board the online gambling train, having opposed previous bills introduced in California, including SB 40 in 2012. However, with concessions made in more recent bills it appears that Pala is ready to embrace online poker in California provided they can work out a deal in their favor. After opposing online gambling expansion for years Pala created a subsidiary, Pala Interactive, in 2013, and has already started building out their online poker site and hiring third party vendors in anticipation of an online poker bill passing in California. Previous Post Next Post pala About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

Battle Between Connecticut Tribes And MGM Gets Ugly With New Ad

The contentious battle between Connecticut tribes and MGM Resorts is heating up. Shortly after workers from the two tribal-owned Connecticut casinos met with lawmakers last week, the tribes unveiled a new video criticizing MGM as a business. Attack ad features MGM executives The 30-second ad takes clips of MGM executives speaking about MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. The first clip features MGM CEO James Murren saying “I just want their money to come here.” Murren is presumably discussing the MGM Springfield project, which tribes argue could cost up to 9,000 CT casino jobs. The second clip features MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle. He says “We are ideally positioned to go into Hartford and attack.” Hornbuckle’s comment comes from a 2015 Bloomberg News interview. He is referencing the company’s hard stance against a third tribal-owned casino planned for East Windsor, CT. The proposed CT property is just 22 miles from the MGM Sprinfield site. As part of the legal battle, MGM even hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to help with its case. The crux of its argument is that the state does not have the authority to give the tribes a statewide casino monopoly. In the Bloomberg interview, Hornbuckle seems to be referencing MGM’s position to contest the proposed casino legally and financially. In the ad, Hornbuckle’s voice speaks over a map illustrating Springfield’s proximity to CT casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It appears the ad is trying to suggest MGM is attacking the industry, not the East Windsor proposal. The general message of the ad is MGM does not have Connecticut’s best interests in mind. As a result, the company should not get a chance to bid on a possible new casino in the state. The title of the video is simply “Listen”. Here it is in its entirety: MGM says MMCT released ad because they are “losing” The ad is on the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan Tribes (MMCT) website. Some local outlets also picked up the video as a news story. MGM immediately fired back. MGM legal counsel Uri Clinton told the Hartford Courant: “What MMCT did this evening is what a campaign does when it is losing, it attacks. And while it is kind of sad to see, it is also understandable why they are losing.” Clinton has some evidence to support the idea the tribes are losing ground. Even if MGM does not capture the Connecticut contract, state officials are taking meetings with other casino companies, like Caesars Entertainment and Pinnacle. The state appears open to listening to other offers. MMCT does have East Windsor’s support to build the casino. The local government and MMCT are working on a casino agreement. The agreement is already drawing criticism from MGM, which is questioning the fairness of five years of fixed property tax rates. Photo by Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

CT Governor, Senate Pick Sides In East Windsor Casino Battle

The bill allowing for a third Connecticut casino in East Windsor is through the state Senate. Do not expect it to get through the House any time soon though. The bill is also dealing with a new opponent. In addition to a pending lawsuit from MGM Resorts, Connecticut could face legal action form the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation as well. This difficult situation just keeps getting more complicated. Here is the latest. Senate approves East Windsor casino plan Last week the Senate approved a bill for a third casino by a vote of 24-12. The measure allows for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to co-own and operate a third casino in East Windsor, CT. The tribes specifically advocated for that site in order to compete with the forthcoming MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. That property is just 23 miles from East Windsor. It is also expected to make a significant dent in the profits of existing CT casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort and Casino. The next step for the bill is the House, but lawmakers there are already making it clear the bill has problems. “It’s a very complicated issue in and of itself and the political piece is all over the place because you have competing interests and you’re talking about a lot of money,” said West Hartford Rep. Joe Verrengia. MGM and new tribe fighting the CT casino in court The bill simply grants the two tribes the right to a casino without any formal bidding process from outside parties. Therein lies the problem. MGM already filed suit against the state for unfairly excluding businesses from bidding on a casino. The Connecticut Attorney General went on the record earlier this year that the state put itself at risk for legal action moving forward on the East Windsor plan. Now, another tribe is threatening to take the state to court. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Kent, CT spoke to the press after the bill passed. The Schaghticoke wants to open a casino in the state as well, but has not been able to as of yet. Representatives said the tribe would have no choice but to sue if a third casino went to tribes with existing casino interests without any competitive bidding. Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke explains: CT Governor supports Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan The CT House has several influences encouraging the group to pass on the bill. There is the Schaghticoke Tribe, MGM Resorts, and the threat of pricey legal action. There is also a group of lawmakers who are averse to expanding state gambling with more casinos. Several local representatives are also trying to protect off-track gaming ventures, which would have trouble competing with another casino. One lawmaker who is fine with a third major casino? Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Malloy’s office openly came out in support of the East Windsor project after the Senate vote. “The legislature should remain focused on maintaining the state’s longstanding partnership with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations and protecting jobs,” a spokesperson said. Photo by Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

MGM Chief Shares His Thoughts On Regulated Online Gambling, DFS

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, who also happens to be the Chairman of the American Gaming Association (AGA), made several interesting comments about the future of gaming during a press briefing in Washington DC on Wednesday. During his remarks Murren touched on three hot-button issues in the gaming industry:
Online gambling
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)
Casino expansion outside of Atlantic City Murren on potential online gambling ban The comment that will certainly grab the most headlines was Murren’s assertion, reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Tetreault, that an online gambling ban would not be ruinous to MGM. Murren went on to say that online gaming is “convenience gambling,” adding that MGM is in the “resort-based” gaming business. This statement will likely be unsettling to regulated online gaming advocates, who may take Murren’s remark to mean the company will not fully support regulation or will not oppose Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). But that’s only one interpretation of Murren’s online gambling comments. Another way to parse Murren’s words is online gaming is only a small piece of the company’s revenue stream at the moment, therefore the passage of RAWA wouldn’t have much of an impact on MGM’s bottom line. While true, this thinking could also be seen as shortsighted, considering only 3% of the U.S. population has access to legal online gambling at this point. MGM sending mixed signals on iGaming At first glance it appears MGM is heavily invested in online gaming legalization in the U.S.:
MGM is already involved in the online gaming space through Borgata in Atlantic City, the highest revenue producer in New Jersey.
MGM has also applied for and received an online poker license in Nevada, but never launched an online poker site in its home state.
Additionally, the company is one of the driving forces (along with Caesars Entertainment) behind the pro-regulation lobbying group, the Coalition for Consumer Online Protection (C4COP), as well as the Let NY Play online gaming legalization campaign in New York. However, a close look at the company’s actions and statements over the past two years indicates MGM is not as invested as it appears to be. When you examine Murren’s current assertions on iGaming and his previous statements regarding the AGA’s withdrawal from the online gaming fight following the formation of a rift between its members, it appears the company is hedging its iGaming bets. In March of 2014 Murren told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Two months later the AGA withdrew its support of regulating online gaming, with AGA President Geoff Freeman echoing Murren’s comments from March: Murren reiterated the AGA’s position on the matter in comments yesterday reported by Politico: Murren on DFS Another topic touched on by Murren was DFS, both in terms of the company’s potential plans for entering the DFS space as well as the questionable non-gambling classification of DFS. During his remarks, Murren said the AGA is studying the DFS industry and trying to determine the best way for its members to get involved in the DFS industry. Murren stated they were also examining the potential legal can of worms DFS could open down the road. On this latter point Murren was unambiguous. “Clearly this cannot be ignored, and it is gambling,” Murren stated. Murren’s point of view is that anyone who thinks DFS isn’t gambling is “absolutely, utterly wrong.” “I don’t know how to run a football team, but I do know how to run a casino, and this is gambling,” he said. According to Murren, because of conversations with regulators, MGM has decided to put its plans for DFS on hold for the time being. This is an indication that the AGA and MGM feel DFS regulations are coming down the pipeline, something that would almost certainly upset the DFS apple cart. Murren on Atlantic City monopoly Murren also touched on Atlantic City’s recent troubles (MGM owns half of the Borgata), but expressed optimism for the city moving forward. “The worst, I think, is behind Atlantic City,” Murren said. Murren went onto say that expansion outside of Atlantic City, in North Jersey, would help AC, and the MGM would be interested in developing in a North Jersey casino. “The market opportunity up north is vast,” the executive, Murren said, “If that were to pass, MGM would be interested in pursuing it.” Image Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com

If Passed, RAWA Could Deal Knock Out Blow To Nevada Mobile Sports Betting

Last week Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal penned a must-read column that detailed some of the costly unintended consequences Sheldon Adelson’s push for a federal online gambling ban might bring about. Most notably, RAWA (the Restoration of America’s Wire Act) could lead to a ban on mobile sports betting in Nevada – a ban that could cost the state’s casinos up to $1 billion in annual revenue. Mobile sports betting is a booming business Mobile sports betting is estimated to account for some 30% of Nevada’s $3.9 billion sports betting industry, according to Stutz’s research. Gaming attorney Greg Gemignani of the Las Vegas office of the law firm Dickinson Wright agrees that RAWA has the potential to curtail this business. He told Stutz that it could “backfire on some of our operators in Nevada.” According to Gemignani, even though mobile sports bets placed with legal Nevada sports books would originate and end within the state’s borders, these calls are often routed through surrounding states such as California, Utah, and Arizona. Gemignani fears the interstate nature of these bets would cause them to fall under the scope of the RAWA’s version of the Wire Act, even though the bill likely never intended to ban such an activity. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Gemagnani also envisions a scenario in which RAWA criminalizes the use of VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks), a tool some casinos use to operate their land-based slot machine server systems. As Gemagnani told Stutz, “By making licensed and regulated online gaming illegal, the bill is counterproductive.” Gemagnani makes an excellent point. Criminalizing legalized and regulated online gambling options will not put an end to online gambling, it will simply hurt regulated operators and create a void that will be filled by illegal, unregulated, operators. Couldn’t they just carve out mobile sports betting in Nevada? So why not change RAWA to exempt mobile intrastate sports betting? This is certainly a possibility, and seems like an easy enough fix. But RAWA already has several carveouts, and will likely need several more for it to have any reasonable chance to pass through Congress. Already exempted from Sheldon Adelson’s online gambling ban are fantasy sports and horse racing as well as some forms of online charitable gambling. The exemptions are unlikely to end there In addition to the current carveouts, the general consensus is the bill would have to make an exception for online lottery sales (something Lindsey Graham has already hinted at), as several states have already made lottery tickets available online (Minnesota, Georgia, Michigan, and Illinois). Several more -Kentucky, West Virginia, and Florida – are at various stages in the process. Additionally, many analysts feel RAWA has little chance to pass unless it exempts the current online gambling industries in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, as these three states have already passed online gambling legislation and have regulated iGaming industries up and running. If these states receive exemptions, it is likely that a number of other states currently exploring online gambling will voice opposition to RAWA unless they are also granted exemptions. As I’ve explained in the past, at some point this growing number of exemptions will make the bill all but useless, and will expose what is widely believed to be its true intention: prohibiting Adelson’s competitors from offering regulated online gambling. And as Chris Grove has detailed, because of the current online gaming landscape and the carveouts RAWA contains, the bill would more or less only prohibit legalized online poker. The problem with exempting an activity Las Vegas Sands participates in An exemption for mobile sports betting in Nevada would also make what is already considered crony capitalism look even more like a political favor for a billionaire donor. So far the exemptions don’t pose a conflict of interest with Adelson’s current gaming enterprise. But, exempting a business Sheldon Adelson profits from – Las Vegas Sands’ Nevada casinos do offer mobile sports wagering – would only serve to underline one of the key arguments opponents of RAWA have been screaming from the mountaintops. Namely, that RAWA is a protectionist piece of legislation designed to preserve Sheldon Adelson’s grip on gambling in Nevada. It also opens RAWA up to the most basic attack line imaginable. Why does Sheldon Adelson think online sports betting in Nevada is acceptable, but online poker is not? It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Image Nick_Nick / Shutterstock.com

2015 WSOP Will Serve To Strengthen The Bond With WSOP.com

At the 2014 World Series of Poker, Caesars and the WSOP made a concerted effort to merge their brick and mortar and online offerings. Among the crossover proposals the WSOP implemented were:
Players were encouraged to play online poker while playing in WSOP events.
The WSOP created a designated area for players to log on and play at WSOP.com.
WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey sent hundreds of players to the WSOP via official online satellites. Judging by the information relayed during last Tuesday’s 2015 World Series of Poker conference call, there will be an even stronger push at the 2015 World Series of Poker to create synergy between the WSOP and WSOP.com. Starting with the first-ever WSOP online poker bracelet. The online poker bracelet Event #64, a $1,000 buy-in No Limit Holdem tournament, will begin at WSOP.com’s online poker tables and play down to the final nine players. Once the final table is decided these players will travel to the Rio to battle it out for the bracelet the old-fashioned way. What else is in store for the 2015 WSOP Mobile and wifi improvements Last year, the WSOP encouraged players to play at WSOP.com while participating in WSOP tournaments at the Rio. But there was a major logistical issue that likely hindered players from taking advantage of this new, exciting opportunity. During the 2014 WSOP, WSOP.com didn’t have a mobile offering, and players interested in double-dipping in live and online tournaments would have to use their much bulkier laptops. This year players will be able to play on their phones and tablets. Additionally, the WSOP has made wifi available in all areas of the Rio, as well as getting the Nevada Gaming Control Board to “white-list” the Rio so players can be seated at the same cash game table or tournament table even if they are playing from the same IP address – usually a no-no in Nevada. Daily satellites WSOP.com will run satellite tournaments to the following day’s WSOP events every night at 6PM. Signature event (Ladies and Seniors Championship and Millionaire Maker, for example) satellites will start at 4 PM. Additionally, STT’s and Steps satellites to WSOP tournaments will be available around the clock. A bigger scramble One satellite tournament that was a rousing success in 2014 was the WSOP Main Event 25 seat Scramble. Last year the tournament attracted 1,339 entries, and the company expects even more entries this time around, with potentially more seats won. This year the tournament will have a slightly reduced price-point (185+15) and will allow players to reenter. The scramble will take place on Day 1a of the WSOP Main Event. Satellites to the 25 seat satellite are already running at WSOP.com. Streamlined deposit options Caesars also announced they have made it easier than ever to deposit into your online poker account. As always, players can use credit cards, eChecks (ACH), or cash at the cage. This last option has been streamlined by the WSOP. According to Caesars’ reps, players are now capable of walking up to the cage with their ID and making a deposit to their already setup online poker account. In the past players would first have to initiate an online chat before depositing at the casino cage. Additionally, Caesars expects the list of properties where the cash at the cage deposit option is available to grow from one to three, as they are awaiting approval for Harrah’s and Planet Hollywood to join Caesars. The return of direct buy-in satellites In 2014 Caesars sent about 200 players to the WSOP via direct satellites at WSOP.com – about 100 to the Main Event and a similar number to preliminary events. That number should be much larger in 2015. In addition to direct buy-in satellites at WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey, Caesars has teamed up with their iGaming partner, 888 Poker, who will be offering official direct buy-in satellites to the WSOP in regulated markets around the globe. According to Caesars, they expect 888’s direct satellites to send around 100 players to the Main Event. During the conference call, Caesars also announced they have entered into similar partnerships with PlayNow in Canada and Winamax in France. Caesars Interactive VP of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky, the WSOP expects over 200 players will win their way into the WSOP Main Event through these official satellites, and over 500 total WSOP seats (Main Event and preliminary events) to be awarded through official online satellites. By comparison, during last week’s call, Caesars estimated the 56 land-based casinos they have partnered with will send about 300 players to the Main Event. Tidbits
The Global Poker Index (GPI) will be sponsoring the 2015 WSOP Player of the Year award. the WSOP POY calculations had previously been handled by Bluff Magazine’s POY system. According to a press release by the WSOP, “… this new, multi-year agreement includes marketing initiatives for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and WSOP Europe… to include exclusive editorial content on WSOP.com and content within the WSOP final table livestream.”
For the first time, live reporting of WSOP tournaments will be handled in-house and exclusively available at on WSOP.com.
The GPI wasn’t the only company to enter into a multiyear agreement with the WSOP. According to Caesars, DraftKings extended their sponsorship of a WSOP event (Event #55) into multiyear agreement. Image NAN728 / Shutterstock.com