How Irresponsible Are The MA Responsible Gaming Research Budget Cuts?

Two Massachusetts resort casinos are set to open their doors in 2018 and 2019. Plus, online gambling and online lottery both on the radar for 2018. Yet, the Massachusetts legislature appears to be doing the unthinkable; it’s considering deep cuts to Responsible Gaming resources for the second consecutive year. New cuts worth $250,000 The impetus for the cuts is to bring the state budget into balance. In the legislature’s eyes, part of the balancing act includes a 17 percent cut to funding of responsible gaming programs. That amounts to a mere pittance of the budget, $250,000. It also comes after a $500,000 cut to responsible gaming funding this past December, according to local press reports. If this year’s cuts become a reality, the total cuts to responsible gaming funding over the past two years would be an astounding 37.5 percent. They would drop the overall amount of money appropriated for responsible gaming from $2 million down to $1,250,000. According to MassLive.com: Marlene Warner, the executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling added more in a statement: The hope now is that Governor Charlie Baker restores the funding or shuffles funding around. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely, considering it was Baker behind the 2016 cuts. A hiccup in the Massachusetts Model This is a strange line for Massachusetts, which has been at the forefront of casino and gaming research in recent years. Massachusetts implemented several responsible gaming pilot programs at the Plainridge Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts. These programs will also be instituted at MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor when they open their doors. The programs started studying the economic and social impacts of the state’s decision to expand into casino gambling when the legislature first authorized casinos back in 2011. Cuts to responsible gaming programs seems way outside the box for Massachusetts. However, there could be a logical explanation for the legislature’s willingness to cut funding. Is the legislature thinking further down the road? Keep in mind the cuts could be rendered moot if the legislature plans on legalizing online gambling in 2018. Say Massachusetts does legalize online gambling next year. There is a very strong possibility the law would require online gaming operators to contribute a significant amount of funding to responsible gaming research and programs. That amount would almost certainly be more than the current cuts call for. It would likely offset the 2016 cuts too. Still, considering the relatively small amounts these cuts are saving the state, any cuts to responsible gaming funding seems like a big risk with little reward.

Proposed Taunton Casino Looking More And More Like A No-Go

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s efforts to build a casino in Taunton took a serious hit last week. On the day the Department of the Interior was expected to render a decision on the tribe’s appeal to have its land placed in trust, the tribe withdrew its request for review. “In consultation with the U.S. Department of Interior, the tribe has suspended its request for review under Category 1 of the Indian Reorganization Act,” the tribe said in a statement. The statement went on to say the tribe would still explore other options. However, there are only a few options left. Judge: ‘You’re not a Category 2 tribe’ The appeal was one of two avenues the Mashpee Wampanoag explored after Judge William G. Young ruled in favor of a group of Taunton residents who filed suit to block the tribe’s proposed casino. The DOI placed the Mashpee Wampanoag land in trust under Category 2 of the Indian Reorganization Act. This despite the fact the tribe did not get federal recognition until 2007. Under Category 2, tribal land can be taken into trust if the tribe comprises “descendants of such members [a federally recognized tribe] who were, on June 1, 1934, residing within the present boundaries of any Indian reservation.” In his ruling, Judge Young said the tribe didn’t qualify to have its land placed in trust under Category 2 rules. In his opinion, Young wrote, “This is not a close call.” DOI: ‘You’re not a Category 1 tribe either’ The tribe appealed the decision. It later dropped the appeal. It also requested the DOI consider placing its land in trust under Category 1 of the IRA. To be eligible under Category 1, a tribe is required to have been under federal jurisdiction prior to 1934. The DOI was supposed to rule on June 19. However, the DOI delayed the decision a week to June 27. The Mashpee Wampanoag withdrawing the request implies the DOI was going to rule against the tribe. In an email to WickedLocal Raynham, the lead plaintiff from the 2016 lawsuit, Michelle Littlefield said: What happens next for the proposed casino? The tribe is running low on options after both dropping its appeal of Judge Young’s 2016 ruling and withdrawing its trust request. If the tribe is still determined to build a casino, it could build a commercial casino. Then it would pay the commercial casino tax rate to the state. Here’s why this makes sense.
Massachusetts still has one commercial casino license left to hand out. That license just happens to be in the Southeast region where Taunton is located. A subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming would have received the final license in 2016 had the tribal casino not been in the works at the time.
To finance the proposed tribal casino, the tribe partnered with commercial casino giant Genting.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is already familiar with the project. Here’s why this doesn’t make sense.
The MGC would reopen the casino proposal process and allow other casino developers to fight for the final license. That license is significantly more valuable now that a tribal casino in the immediate area is off the table.
Commercial casinos in Massachusetts must pass local referendums before they can be considered. There’s no way of knowing if Taunton residents will approve of the project.
If Genting wants to build a commercial casino in Massachusetts, the only purpose the tribe would serve is the land on which to build it. There are a number of other sites Genting could consider.

New Hampshire Just Became The Fifth State To Authorize Online Lottery Sales

Score one for advocates of legal, regulated online gaming. New Hampshire will soon become the fifth state lottery to take its games online. The New Hampshire legislature included the online lottery amendment in a sweeping, 100-plus page budget package. Both chambers passed the bill on June 22. Then New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed the bill a week later. Online lottery and gaming slowly creeping across the country Unless another state beats them to market, which is entirely possible, New Hampshire will become the eighth state to offer some form of legal online gaming.
Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, and Kentucky sell online lottery products
Nevada offers online poker and online sports betting
Delaware and New Jersey have legal online casino and online poker games That number is likely to grow in the near future too, as no less than 10 states introduced online gaming and/or online lottery legislation in 2017. Several of these efforts are making significant progress. Most notably, Pennsylvania is on the cusp of legalizing both online lottery and online casino games. Other states that are also exploring online lottery legalization in 2017 include:
Connecticut
Hawaii
Massachusetts
New Jersey Moreover, other states considering online poker and/or casino legalization in 2017 include:
California (poker-only)
Massachusetts
Michigan
New Hampshire
New York (poker only)
West Virginia What’s in the online lottery bill? The section of the bill that deals with online lottery sales reads: The only nonstandard aspect of the bill is the requirement that first-time players register in-person at a brick and mortar lottery retailer. When can Granite State residents expect online lottery to go live? The effective date of the online lottery amendment is July 1, 2017, but it will likely be some time before New Hampshire offers online lottery products. Based on the timelines in other states, the wait could be anywhere from a few months to several years. Georgia was the fastest to market, getting its online lottery up and running just four months after it was officially approved in 2012. Conversely, it took Kentucky over three years to go from approval to launch. Among the things that will have to be taken care of:
New Hampshire will need to choose an online lottery vendor.
The state needs to establish regulations.
Launch a website.
Completing game integrity and security testing As noted above, the legislation tasks the New Hampshire Lottery Commission with:
Setting up player verification and geolocation measures
Determining daily, weekly, and monthly wagering limits
Enacting a self-exclusion program Impact on Massachusetts gambling New Hampshire’s neighbor to the south, Massachusetts, is also a candidate for online lottery expansion. Online lottery already has a lot of powerful supporters in Massachusetts, including Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose office oversees the Massachusetts Lottery. Massachusetts was a strong candidate for online expansion this year too. However, the state took its customary slow approach to the concept. As a result, the legislature let online lottery and gaming expansion bleed into 2018. New Hampshire beating it to the punch might help fan the flames for online lottery expansion in Massachusetts though.

Why Choose Regulated Poker Over Unregulated Poker

Faster withdrawal times, improved oversight and transparency, and the knowledge that your money is safe and secure are just a few of improvements regulated online poker will offer US players. In this column I’ll make the case why US players should start jumping on the regulated online poker bandwagon and swearing off unregulated online poker rooms. If you’re on the fence or having a hard time quitting your current unregulated online poker room then I suggest you keep reading. Reason #1 — Oversight With the onset of legalized, regulated online poker, US online poker players have their state regulatory bodies to lean on and hold accountable, who in turn have to answer to elected officials in the state. These added layers of oversight are the reason live casinos are so trusted when it comes to the safety of your money and the fairness of the games being offered in the United States, and now these same protections will extend to online casinos and poker rooms. If you play at a licensed, regulated online poker site, never again will you have to worry whether or not the people protecting your money is little more than a “fly-by-night” offshore regulatory body that has setup shop in some far-flung locale: Regulatory bodies that rely on the same companies they are overseeing for their very existence –with some, like Kahnawake’s Joe Norton, possessing ownership interests in the very poker rooms they are suppose to regulate! Reason #2 — Transparency In addition to having more reputable and legitimate oversight, regulated online poker rooms are far more transparent, allowing patrons to see everything from their licensing details to the company’s management structure, to the breakdown of their rake structure –which is now required by law. Now that online poker rooms are subjected to legitimate licensing requirements that require transparency, the potential for a shady individual to hide within a company’s infrastructure (or hide their involvement through a shell company) is a thing of the past. There will be no more “October Surprises” for online poker players. This transparency also prevents companies from using player funds to pay for other operational expenses, as safeguards are now in place that require frequent audits and stipulate the manner in which a company holds player funds. Reason #3 — Improved Payment Processing One of the most immediate and noticeable improvements that will come about from a regulated online poker market will be the speed with which withdrawals are processed, and the safety of the funds you have in your online account. Online poker players in the US will no longer have to wait weeks to months for a check to arrive, and will no longer have to fret that the check might be printed on rubber paper. From now on, when you deposit at an online poker room, your money will not immediately lose value (players at some current unregulated sites sell their account balances for mere pennies on the dollar) and it will no longer be tied-up for months on end. In addition to the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have access to your money, players will also have far more deposit and withdrawal options to choose from, with payment processors and credit cards no longer restricted from handling online poker transactions –provided they are themselves licensed. Reason #4 — Look at the track record If I still haven’t convinced you why you should choose regulated online poker sites over unregulated online poker rooms, look no further than the track-record of unregulated Internet poker sites over the years:
PokerSpot – PokerSpot was the first online poker site to leave the poker community high and dry in 2002, when the Dutch Boyd led poker room went belly up owing some $400,000 to their players – money that still has not been paid back to this day.
Ultimate Bet – Over the course of several years, Ultimate Bet insiders stole tens-of-millions of dollars from players through a cheating program, and when the DOJ indicted the owners of the site on April 15, 2011, UB continued to accept deposits and later went belly-up owing the community somewhere in the realm of seven figures.
Absolute Poker – Like their sister site Ultimate Bet (the two companies merged in 2010), AP was another site involved in an insider cheating scandal, and left players out in the cold, owing millions, when they were finally shut-down.
Full Tilt Poker – US Full Tilt Poker players are still waiting for about $150 million of their money; money they have not had access to since April 15, 2011.
Lock Poker – How bad is the situation at Lock Poker? Lock Poker’s withdrawal times are so slow, and the company’s ability to pay is in such question that $100 of Lock Poker money is worth somewhere between $10 and $25 on the open market. And this doesn’t even cover the countless examples of online poker rooms seizing legitimate accounts, slowpaying their players, or turning a blind eye to cheating. It’s time to toss away the security blanket and demand what’s better Change is hard, and it can be unpleasant at first, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, and when it comes to online poker in the US, changing from an unregulated to a regulated market is absolutely necessary. Fortunately, that change is starting to occur across the United States, with licensed Nevada online poker rooms up and running, and Delaware and New Jersey on the precipice of joining the list of states with regulated online poker. But even in locales that have licensed online poker rooms, many online poker players are still playing at, or considering playing at, unregulated online poker sites. As I outlined above this is a major mistake. It might be the appeal of larger player pools, or the bonuses and promotions being offered that lure you in, but just remember: There is a reason the site is offering you a deal that seems too good to be true, and more importantly, there is a reason the site has not applied for a license or has been turned down. Sure, some unregulated online poker sites have done right by you over the years, and some unregulated online poker rooms have very good track records and decent reputations. But keep two things in mind: 1. These sites are already breaking at least one law by operating in the US, so what other laws are they willing to break? 2. Unlicensed sites are graded on a very steep curve, and if the curve includes sites like Ultimate Bet, Lock Poker, and PokerSpot, it’s not hard to come out looking like a well-oiled machine. These unlicensed sites are hoping you turn a blind eye to their failings, and choose familiarity and the status quo over progress. The valedictorian of summer school Even if an unregulated site has a solid reputation even these supposed well-oiled machines have their problems. In the current unregulated market they don’t even appear to be problems, but in a regulated market, lengthy withdrawal times, unnecessary fees, and lackluster security against collusion and poker bots would never be tolerated. They are for lack of a better term, the valedictorian of summer school. Since their offshore licensing bodies don’t demand tight security measures and don’t have the capability of diligent oversight, these problems are currently just accepted as part of the process by online poker players; in a regulated market they are being stamped out. In poker forum parlance: Regulated Poker > Unregulated Poker.

Nevada Online Poker Plagued by Geo-Location Issues

A recent service outage in Nevada caused many online poker players to be booted from both WSOP.com and UltimatePoker.com online poker sites, due to geo-location service providers’ inability to verify player locations. Unfortunately, this was not the first geo-location issue in Nevada, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Fortunately, geo-location issues have been relatively minor in Nevada (yet very annoying for players having to deal with them). The online poker sites and the geo-location service providers have been working hard to correct any complications as they arise. But what they do indicate is that there is the potential for larger issues to arise in the future. First day jitters Even before Ultimate Poker dealt their first hand in Nevada, poker players, industry insiders, and regulators were anxious to see how geo-location verification would work in the state. The potential issue became a reality on Ultimate Poker’s first day of operation, when geo-location verification was unable to track Verizon and several other cell phone providers, essentially barring what should be authorized online poker players from participating in games at the site. Ever since these first-day jitters, geo-location verification has continued to be a thorn in the side of the Nevada online poker industry, evidenced by the recent service outage, and issues have taken days to weeks to correct. Verizon customers had to wait nearly two weeks before the geo-location service providers employed by Ultimate Poker were able to track their location, and there have still been sporadic complaints from players claiming they are inside Nevada’s borders but cannot be verified. AT&T’s service outage More recently, network maintenance by AT&T caused a disruption for both Nevada online poker rooms, eliminating their capability to track players via geo-location technology. The outages first occurred on October 21, when many Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com players found themselves unable to log into the software, or even worse, booted from the software mid-hand or mid-tournament. A thread immediately popped-up on the 2+2 online poker forum as players helplessly watched as they were forced to “sit-out” and their stacks blinded off. The service disruption was so severe that WSOP.com was forced to cancel several tournaments and traffic at both sites plummeted. During the outage, the sites were caught as off-guard as the players, and representatives from both Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com quickly showed up at the 2+2 poker forums and explained what occurred to the community: Both sites have promised to address this issue to prevent a similar situation down the road. Workarounds As frustrating as these geo-location issues can be, there is a very valid reason these safeguards are in place; namely to prevent unauthorized users from playing on an online poker site by using a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows a person to effectively hide their location by appearing to be in a location they are not, by connecting to a proxy server. VPN’s have been used for quite some time, ever since online markets have become segregated, and are mainly used to circumvent online poker security, although some overly secretive types use them simply to hide their information. VPN’s became a hot topic in the aftermath of Black Friday when US poker players no longer had access to sites like PokerStars. You can learn more about VPN’s and how they are used by disreputable online poker players at BillRini.com. Sites have become much better at detecting VPN’s, but they are still in use, and geo-location verification is one of the most effective ways to detect the use of a VPN.

Twin River Opening A Twin Casino In Rhode Island

When MGM Springfield opens its doors in September 2018, the Massachusetts casino will be competing with not only Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, but also two casinos in Rhode Island. There is the existing Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. There is also a new casino project owned by the Twin River Management Group. That casino should open in July 2018 in Tiverton. The Tiverton project is several years in the making, as Twin River keeps trying to sell Rhode Island voters on expanded gambling. Twin River struggled to get voter support Twin River’s first attempt at expansion occurred in 2012. A statewide referendum sought to allow Twin River Casino and a sister property in Newport, the Newport Grand, to add table games. Per Rhode Island law, the referendum needed to pass statewide and locally. Rhode Island and Lincoln voters said yes. However, Newport voters said no to expanded gaming at Newport Grand. Last year, Twin River moved on to Phase 2, which involved the transfer of its Newport Grand license to a new, yet-to-be-built casino in Tiverton. This time voters statewide and locally said yes to a new casino in Tiverton. Will the smaller Rhode Island casinos hold their own? Despite the accelerated timeline, the Tiverton casino will boast 1,000 slot machines, 30 table games, and an 80-room hotel. The Tiverton casino will be located just across the Massachusetts border near Fall River. The casino serves multiple purposes. First, it’s a huge upgrade in location and gaming options compared to Newport Grand – a converted jai alai venue. In the bigger picture, it hopefully offsets the impact of Wynn Boston Harbor and any future Massachusetts casino in the southeast part of the state. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is waiting to determine that zone’s license until there is a decision on the proposed tribal casino in Taunton is decided. A decision that could take a while as it snakes through the government and courts. Regardless, eventually the area will get a casino, tribal or commercial. Twin River increases its Rhode Island footprint The casino industry in the region tends to overlook Twin River in Lincoln. It shouldn’t be though. People should view the casino as a major force in the area. In recent years, the former dog track turned slots parlor added table games, including a poker room. It is also in the process of adding a hotel. And the company will become a two-headed threat next summer, once the Tiverton project opens its doors. Construction is set to begin by the end of the month, after the local planning board approved the preliminary construction plans last week. If the final plans get approval, the current timeline means the casino will open within a year. Can’t compete with Wynn, but can still succeed The Tiverton project isn’t the $2.4 billion destination resort that Wynn Boston Harbor will be. Nonetheless it should be a viable alternative for area residents that are heading to the casino just for the gamble. If its anywhere near as successful as Twin River in Lincoln, Twin River Management will be very excited.

Fate Of Taunton Casino Rests On, Of All Things, The History Of Maine

Tribal gaming is always complex. What is unfolding in the southeastern part of Massachusetts is convoluted even by tribal gaming standards though. After losing in court, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe asked the Department of Interior (DOI) to review its land in trust application on different grounds. However, the day before the decision was expected to be handed down, the tribe withdrew the request. Everything seemed pretty cut and dry… until the DOI decided to deny the tribe’s request to withdraw its request. The reason this case is so interesting is that a proposed billion-dollar tribal casino in Massachusetts hangs in the balance. Genting will bankroll the First Light Casino project, while Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts will run the property. The casino project ran into legal issues after a group of local residents effectively argued the DOI’s decision to put the tribe’s land in trust was faulty. DOI still wants to review Mashpee Wampanoag’s status When the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe withdrew its DOI request, it seemed like the tribe’s dreams of building a tribal casino in Taunton, Massachusetts were over. By all accounts the tribe withdrew its review request because it expected the DOI to reject its claim that it was under federal jurisdiction in 1934. Plus, internal communications with the DOI affirmed these beliefs. According to the Taunton Gazette, a draft emailed to Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell on June 19 by Interior Department Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason painted a bleak picture. “Evidence submitted by the Tribe on remand provides insufficient indicia (indications) of federal jurisdiction,” Cason wrote. Cason went on to say that the tribe hasn’t adequately proven it was under federal jurisdiction in 1934. As a result he “therefore cannot grant the Tribe’s land-into-trust application under either of those definitions.” But just three days after the tribe asked to withdraw its request, Cason sent another email to the tribe. That email declined its request to suspend the review. Suddenly the tribal casino had a second lease on life. As Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. told the Taunton Gazette “It appears the DOI wants to see them (the tribe) succeed in their quest. They haven’t said no, which leads me to believe there is hope.” Maine plays a surprising role in the case According to the Taunton Gazette, Cason asked both sides for supplemental information. Parties need to supply the supplemental information by August 31. Cason then plans to rule on the case by October 30. In his email, Cason writes that he wants to look at “complex issues” and the “unique historical relationship” not yet explored in this increasingly extraordinary case. What Cason is looking at is early 19th-century geography. More specifically, he is looking at Maine’s status in 1820 before it became a state. Prior to 1820, Maine was a district of Massachusetts. That’s where the Mashpee’s land in trust claim gets really convoluted… as if it wasn’t already. As the Taunton Gazette summarized it: “It’s their only chance, and it will be denied,” attorney David Tenant told the Gazette. Tenant is representing the group of Taunton residents who took the tribe to court and successfully blocked the casino. Tenant later called Cason’s new approach “a novel, unprecedented and absurd motion.” He also threatened swift legal action if the DOI rules the tribe’s land can be placed in trust on those grounds.

California iGaming Week in Review: PokerStars Rumors Escalate, Feinstein Backs Adelson

Online poker talk in California and across the country is no longer a subject only discussed at the kid’s table, this topic is now hotly debated at the adult’s table. Consider that not that long ago the introduction of online poker bills received almost zero attention, but in 2014 the fight over online gambling is landing in the headlines of nearly every mainstream media outlet. In this installment of the California iGaming Week in Review I’ll detail the latest developments on the PokerStars rumor front; let you know which US Senator from California has come out against online gambling; and preview next month’s online poker hearing in the California State Assembly. PokerStars causes tensions to rise in California Even though the state is as close as it’s ever been to passing online poker legislation, PokerStars has somehow managed to commandeer the conversation in California, as the world’s largest online poker provider is apparently looking for a Pacific entry point into the US after its Atlantic crossing failed. Last week we reported that rumors were flying aligning PokerStars with the Morongo Tribe as well as three Los Angeles card-rooms, The Commerce, The Bicycle Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens, and this was something I speculated would not sit well with other tribes and card-rooms. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for several entities to comment on the potential inclusion of PokerStars in California online poker. No fewer than 12 tribes signed a statement calling on California lawmakers to insist on a “bad actors” clause, and make no mistake about it, this is all about PokerStars: Chris Grove of onlinepokerreport.com has an excellent write-up on this new coalition fighting against PokerStars. This is in addition to the letter from Leslie Lohse, the Chairperson of the California Tribal Business Alliance: California Assembly to host Internet Poker hearing Over the past year online poker in the United States has gone from wishful thinking to a reality in three states, and now states like California are looking to make up the ground they’ve already conceded — an amazing turn of events considering California was the first state to seriously consider online poker legislation some five years ago. California seems quite serious this year as interests have aligned, and while I wouldn’t say they are on the same page at least the numerous tribes and card-rooms in the state are finally reading the same book. Our next big indicator as to the potential for online poker legislation making it through the legislature will likely take place next month when the California Assembly holds a hearing titled, “Public Policy and Fiscal Implications of Authorizing Intrastate Internet Poker in California,” which will take place on April 23rd. Senator Diane Feinstein backing internet gambling ban While Feinstein is not part of the state senate and cannot be a part of state policy, her clout in Washington DC and in California cannot be denied, and she would make for a very powerful ally for Sheldon Adelson and other anti-gambling advocates. We’ll have to wait and see what Feinstein’s level of commitment to this endeavor is, but she did co-sign on Senator Lindsey Graham’s Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill. If you missed it, here are the particulars on what Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced. California iGaming Barometer The barometric pressure is dropping this week, but no need for alarm just yet, as not one but two factors are complicating California’s proposed online poker bills. There is of course the current rift forming over the possible inclusion of PokerStars should any “bad actor” clause be removed from the bill, and then there is the curious case of Senator Diane Feinstein backing the Adelson bill to ban online gambling. This is the first week since the bills were introduced that I have pulled back on the reigns slightly, although I’m not quite ready to go from bullish to bearish on California online poker just yet. Previous Post Next Post bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|morongo|pokerstars 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.

California iGaming Week in Review: Restored Hope For PokerStars

The battle for California online poker continues to rage on as PokerStars and their allies (the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Commerce Casino, the Bicycle Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens) continue to make their case for inclusion while their opponents continue to plead with regulators to keep PokerStars out of the market. In this installment of the California iGaming Week in Review we’ll take a brief look at both sides of this issue and see who has the stronger case. We’ll also see which California Senator has landed on the “Naughty List” of the casinos and card-rooms in the state thanks to her support of a federal online gambling ban, and as always we’ll take a look at the California iGaming barometer in the state. PokerStars and California Episode IV: A New Hope? The early reports concerning a potential partnership between PokerStars and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, as well as three card-rooms, the Commerce, the Bike, and Hawaiian Gardens are gaining more and more legs, and it looks like this is shaping up to be one of the bigger fights in US online poker history as neither side appears to be backing down. The debate is centered on “bad actor” clauses, and whether PokerStars’ past should preclude them from being a part of the US online poker market. From Leslie Lohse, representing the California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA), to a coalition of 12 tribes who have put their other differences aside to fight against PokerStars, the battle is going to be fierce, and both sides are armed with valid points. On the one hand there are PokerStars opponents, who have cited (incorrectly in some instances) that there is a precedent for “bad actor” clauses, declaring that PokerStars decision to remain in the US market following UIGEA passage in 2006, and the company’s subsequent legal entanglements with the US Department of Justice, should prevent them from being a part of the online poker industry. On the other hand is PokerStars point of view (their complete response can be found below), which rightly indicates that UIGEA did not ban online gambling in the US, and when it comes to online gambling PokerStars is no more guilty of illegal operation as 888 or partypoker. Furthermore, in PokerStars settlement with the DOJ the company did not admit to any wrongdoing, and the DOJ did not bar them from operating in the US in the future. In fact, the DOJ said PokerStars could operate anywhere in the US where it was legal to do so. Full PokerStars response The following is a statement on pending California online poker legislation by Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for The Rational Group, which operates PokerStars. ** 1) Brian Benczowski, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General (Justice Department), wrote in a letter to Rep. John Conyers, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary on July 23, 2007 – “[T]he UIGEA itself does not make any type of gambling legal or illegal; rather, the statute is focused on regulating the methods of payment for already-illegal gambling.” 2) The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the UIGEA “does not itself outlaw any gambling activity, but rather incorporates other Federal or State law related to gambling.” Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Ass’n v. Attorney General, 580 F.3d 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2009). Senator Diane Feinstein “goes rogue” With her support of Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) Restore America’s Wire Act legislation, Senator Diane Feinstein has rankled a number of powerful interests in the state, namely the casino and card-rooms fighting for the legalization of online poker in the state. Feinstein’s opposition to online gambling is nothing new, she has long opposed any type of gambling expansion, but Leslie Lohse of the CBTA was still nonplussed about Feinstein’s opposition, which she felt came without any consultation with tribal interests according to this PokerNews.com column: Feinstein was the only Democrat to co-sponsor the legislation, and unlike many of the other advocates for a ban, Feinstein does not seemed to be aligning herself with Sheldon Adelson. California iGaming Barometer The uncertainty surrounding PokerStars, and just how deeply both sides are committed to their stance is by far the most troubling issue surrounding potential online poker legislation in California; even more troubling than the current storm cloud of a potential federal online gambling ban that looms over our heads. Because of this uncertainty, the iGaming barometer remains virtually unreadable, at this point we could end up with sunshine or a hurricane. Hopefully some questions will be answered at the online poker hearing later this month in Sacramento, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the hearing produces even more uncertainty than we have now. Previous Post Next Post bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|morongo|pokerstars 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.

California iGaming Week in Review: Oregon Playing Role of Copy-Cat?

California is dominating the discussion when it comes to potential online gambling expansion, as the most populous state is now one of the leading candidates to join New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. In this column we’ll take a look at the latest developments in the world of California gaming, including a pair of reappointments to the CGCC, an editorial on the proposed California online poker bills that appeared in an Oregon newspaper, who will be representing California at the iGNA conference next week, and our weekly look at the California iGaming Barometer. Brown recommends two for CGCC California Governor Jerry Brown (who has been the governor of California for something like 120 years I believe) made two reappointments to the California Gambling Control Commission earlier this month, nominating two current CGCC members to their current positions. Brown recommended that Tiffany Conklin and Lauren Hammond continue to serve on the Commission, where both have been members since 2010. The appointments will require Senate confirmation, but both are expected to remain a part of the CGCC as neither is a controversial pick in any way, shape, or form. The other two members of the CGCC are Richard Lopes and Richard Schuetz. Schuetz has been very vocal about bringing iGaming to California and seems to be one of the most important behind-the-scenes players in the state. Lopes, the current Chairman of the CGCC, will be a speaker at the upcoming iGNA Conference, but more on this below. California online poker bills getting noticed in Oregon California’s pair of online poker bills is also getting some attention from its northern neighbor Oregon, where a brief editorial appeared at OregonLive.com discussing the implications for Oregon should California pass one of these bills into law, and what that would mean for Oregon down the road. According to the author of the piece, Harry Esteve: While California and its population of 38 million will be less inclined to sign an interstate agreement, they would certainly be more likely to do so with a border state, which would cut down on geolocation constraints. Senator Lou Correra and CGCC Chairman Richard Lopes to speak at iGNA On the opening day of the 2014 iGNA Conference two representatives of California, State Senator Lou Correra and CGCC Chairman Richard Lopes will be part of the a star-studded panel that will feature a discussion on 2014 Policy Roundup. The panel will be moderated by State Senator Jeff Danielson from Iowa’s 30th District, and according to the iGNA schedule the group will discuss: Here is a look at the complete panel; it should be a real barnburner with Kim Ward of Pennsylvania and Ray Lesniak of New Jersey joining the duo from California:
Richard Lopes, Chairman – California Gambling Control Commission
Senator Kim Ward, State Senator – 39th Senatorial District, Pennsylvania State Senate
Senator Lou Correa, State Senator – 34th District, California State Senate
Senator Raymond Lesniak, State Senator – 20th Legislative District, New Jersey State Senate California iGaming Barometer Last week I did some unscientific polling and came up with a baseline number for California to pass an online poker bill in 2014 of about 25%. This week that number will remain the same, as there was little in the way of positive or negative news regarding California’s two online poker bills this past week. However, there was some positive movement in the iGaming world after Massachusetts Internet Gambling forum that took place on March 11th. Based on the panelists presentations and answers it seems that online gambling expansion is being considered by a wide variety of states. Previous Post Next Post 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.