If they plan on passing an online poker bill in 2014 the California legislature had better get a move on. The clock is ticking down on this legislative session, with just about two weeks remaining before the final buzzer sounds, and online poker has gone from a long-shot to a pipe dream. Outside forces are certainly trying to get the legislature to act, from the 13 tribe coalition pushing their own bill to a group of 25 card rooms who recently sent a letter to two key individuals in the statehouse, Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer. And how can we forget the efforts of the Santa Ysabel tribe who are threatening to launch their own online poker website without the state’s permission. With so many possible scenarios capable of being played out over the next couple of weeks let’s take a look at what will happen under the most likely scenario, which is the legislature not acting —The senate bill has already been pulled off the table according to the LA Times and the Assembly bill starting to look like a lost cause as well— and what that will lead to in California. If the legislature punts If the legislature does not act on online poker in the coming weeks we will learn one thing for certain; whether or not the Santa Ysabel tribe’s threats to launch are real or if the tribe was bluffing to try and get a favorable bill passed. My position all along has been that the Santa Ysabel threat was little more than a bluff designed to either get the legislature to act, and even more likely to make sure that some sort of revenue sharing bill was discussed with smaller tribes unable to pay the stiff licensing fees and compete with the larger tribes and card rooms. Santa Ysabel has stuck with the story that they are serious about launching, and if the legislature does punt they very well might. While I don’t think their intention was to test the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the definition of Class II gaming, they do have all the pieces in place to do so, including a software provider, a seemingly willing payment processor, and a regulatory agency housing their servers in Canada. Frankly, the Santa Ysabel tribe has little to lose (the tribe is already in severe debt from its failed foray into brick & mortar gambling) but they could alter online poker in the US, and not necessarily for the better. The effect on partnerships We will also see what becomes of the partnerships and coalitions that have formed this year. What becomes of PokerStars tentative partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Bicycle Casino, the Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens? What about the coalition of 13 tribes? Or the card rooms? Some of the partnerships were simply “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” relationships and others were tenuous at best. Given a few months to reset and rethink their positions it’s highly unlikely that these same partnerships will remain when the issue is taken up in the next legislative session. This is especially applicable if (as I’ll soon explain) the threat of a Bad Actor clause is off the table. If there is suddenly zero chance that a Bad Actor clause will be included in an online poker bill introduced down the road I would expect the Morongo group and the coalition of 13 tribes and the 25 card rooms to suddenly see their interests aligned, but rifts could form over other policy disagreements, such as revenue sharing and even race tracks. Bad Actor clause will likely be off the table Remarkably, if the legislature is unable to get an online poker bill passed it will likely lead to the possibility of a Bad Actor clause being included next year somewhere in the 0.0 range. The reason I say this is that PokerStars is expected to be licensed in New Jersey in the very near future, and it would be very difficult for any future state to pass a bill with a Bad Actor clause that would cover companies licensed in other states. It’s not impossible, but considering the legal fights that have already been suggested in California over the Bad Actor clause it seems highly unlikely that Bad Actor language would be applied if the company(s) in question are licensed in New Jersey. There is also the not so small issue of Amaya Gaming suddenly falling into the Bad Actor category due to its ownership of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker –virtually every casino/online casino uses Amaya licensed games. Many pundits feel that certain tribes resolve against a Bad Actor clause was a stalling tactic to insure a bill was not passed — they essentially feigned a desire for online poker when they are actually against it but made sure the wedge issue was not resolved and killed the bill. If this is the case then this will have backfired, as it only slightly delayed the inevitable and further aligned the many divergent interests in the state. Previous Post Next Post amaya|bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|morongo|pokerstars|santa ysabel 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.

Most people in California take their time getting things done. While the state moves forward quickly with some issues, like environmental protections, other issues move like they’ve been caught in traffic on the 405 freeway. Such is the case with online poker. Though two bills were pending in the state legislature, both were recently shelved, mostly due to various interests and parties who simply cannot come to agreement on key issues. With one sponsoring legislator set to retire within the next year, the other is left holding the bag of potential money. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer spoke out in greater detail this week with regard to the future of an online poker bill. Meanwhile, the Bicycle Casino is hosting its largest tournament series of the year that leads up to the World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker Main Event. But controversy has taken over prior to this weekend’s start of the event due to some outspoken poker players led by Allen Kessler. And for a change, many poker players agree with him. California Online Poker Will Require Patience It has been a frustrating five-year road thus far for online poker advocates in California. And it looks like they will need to wait at least another year for anything of substance to take form. As noted many times in the media, there are many players in the industry at odds over the details of any online poker bill. Tribes, card rooms, horse tracks, and lottery interests have different feelings about who should be able to offer online poker, details of a bad actor clause, fees for licensing, and partnerships allowed. At present time, no one seems to be willing to compromise, and that is largely due to the lack of a larger interest forcing conversations between the parties. State Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer will have his hands full when he introduces another online poker bill as promised. Even to draft the legislation will require that he reconsider the divisiveness of his last bill and how he might be able to find more agreement amongst the parties. When he shelved his last bill this month, Jones-Sawyer said that he fully intends to introduce another in December of this year for the next legislative session. His latest statement on the topic reveals more about his recent decision: “One of the major reasons that I did not move AB 2291 this legislative session was that the Department of Justice and the California Gaming Commission did not have enough time to review the language and make relevant recommendations on the regulatory structure of the bill.” His plan involves meetings in the months leading up to December so he can offer a more universal bill for the 2015/2016 session. The key issue, according to Jones-Sawyer, is the bad actor language. Does he believe that his new bill will be “the one”? His confidence, or lack thereof, is striking. Instead of pinning hopes on 2015, he instead asks all parties to remain patient. “We have come a long way,” he admitted, “but we have to be patient so we can get this right. Setting a standard in California that will be an example for the entire nation is my ultimate goal.” While this sounds like the ultimate online poker legislation will be fair to all and inclusive of all parties and concerns, it also sounds like 2015 is far from a promise for it to happen. Speaking of Bad Actors (Ahem, Newsweek) As states like California experience their own setbacks with regard to legalizing online poker, national news articles that take over the cover of a magazine like Newsweek don’t help the cause, either. “How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand” by Leah McGrath Goodman is a biased piece of writing that leads with a cover photo of a young, sad boy holding a tablet with a poker hand displayed on it. Many writers in poker have tackled the rebuttals to the story, so there is no need to do it again. Suffice it to say that articles that serve as scare tactics for online poker and gaming in the United States do nothing to encourage states to pursue legislation that will regulate a currently rogue industry and pursue extra revenue for their states. WPT Legends of Poker Feeling the Chainsaw Effect The Legends of Poker is the Bicycle Casino’s largest tournament series of the year, and it culminates in a Main Event with the WPT. The series actually started on July 28 and has been seeing a fair turnout. The Main Event begins on Saturday, August 23. The buy-in is $3,500 + $200. The problems begin with the casino noting a $4 million “estimated” prize pool, which looks like a guarantee but most certainly is not. Reentries will be allowed; if eliminated, a player can reenter on the following day. Players can also buy-in directly for Day 2 for $10K. Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler was so angry about the “Quantum Reload” tournament that he decided to boycott the WPT event and write an open letter to WPT President Adam Pliska about it. He noted that players who “struggle to make it” through the first day of play and advance then have to face “a whole new wave of skilled players” who can buy in and start fresh. He claims this gives an edge to “deep pocketed skilled pros” over regular tournament grinders. The Bike Tournament Director Mo Fathipour responded to say that the poker economy is evolving and allows players of all skill levels and bankrolls to play. He claims the Quantum Reload concept “has been a huge success for the Bicycle Casino throughout our poker series.” It is unclear as to whether Kessler’s protest will have much effect on the overall field. Previous Post Next Post bike About Jennifer Newell Jennifer has been writing about poker for nearly a decade, including extensive work as a freelancer, where Jennifer has worked for numerous gaming-related websites, magazines, and blogs with a focus on players, news, and interesting stories. Follow Jennifer on Google+ and Twitter.

Let me start this column by saying I don’t have a dog in the highly contentious political fight between Israel and Palestine, and hopefully by the end of the article you’ll say “I have no idea which side he is on.” Frankly, this is a complex issue that most people, including myself, simply don’t have a full understanding of, and definitely not to the extent that I would feel comfortable offering up an informed opinion on who is right and who is wrong, and what level of blame each side deserves. Second, let me explain right off the bat that I completely understand PokerStars’ right to ban whatever they want, and I have no problem with their decision. In fact, I’d like to see them go even further and implement a stricter dress code. I understand 1st amendment rights are limited to government controlling your speech, and that it doesn’t matter anyway since the tournament was held in Spain. Finally, I really didn’t want to weigh in on this at all (hence the late response) as I respect the people who have already weighed in on both sides of this issue. I understand both sides’ arguments and find them valid. My one criticism is they have turned this into a bigger issue than it is, or should have become. What’s at issue So, apparently Olivier Busquet and Daniel Colman wore a couple of t-shirts expressing their support for Palestinians, and a small group of people went nutso on Twitter about it, both for and against their decision to make such a public display. It wasn’t just the people who were offended that turned this into a “feed the beast” moment, it was also the people cheerleading the shirts’ messages. So far it’s spawned countless columns (including this one) and seems to have taken on a life of its own, most notably among the columns was a back and forth between Nolan Dalla and Robbie Strazynski. There’s No Room for Politics in Poker Political Censorship Has No Place in Poker My Political Poker Debate with Nolan Dalla Plenty of others have weighed in as well, including Daniel Negreanu, but the following link is the most thoughtful response I’ve seen so far, and the one I agree with the most: No Politics at the Poker Table, penned by Victoria Coren Mitchell. There are probably at least a dozen more opinions on this topic if you want to do more reading and know how to use Google. My problem with this “debate” My biggest gripe with this issue/non-issue is that the messages emblazoned on the shirts weren’t all that provocative. For me the simple messages displayed passed the common sense test of what is acceptable to wear on a shirt in public – a test most high school and college kids would fail miserably. We’ve all seen worse, a lot worse. Nobody is going to stop you on the street and start screaming and threatening you for wearing either of those shirts. Nobody is turning to their friend and saying “can you believe the nerve of that guy wearing that in public!” when you walk past. Yes, the shirts conveyed a contentious position, and hit upon a very sensitive topic, but it wasn’t done in an inflammatory or negative way. In this case the message was simple, and whether you like it or not, it’s a stance supported by a large number of people (just like pro-life/pro-choice is widely supported on both sides). It’s not some fringe idea like neo-Nazism or the Westboro Baptist Church’s hateful crap. The shirts did not say “Save Gaza from the Evil Zionists,” or “End Apartheid in Palestine.” To me this is where we go from a political stance to hateful / incendiary speech: Where you go from a show of support for a group to the demonization of the opposition. Now here is the real point I want to make, the EPT already has a rule covering offensive shirts, “the blanket rule that they reserve the right to refuse service for …” Instead of letting the EPT see if attire passes the smell test, what we have ended up with is overregulation in this area, basically imposing the poker version of a school’s zero-tolerance policy where kids bringing a Lego light saber to school are suspended for brandishing a “weapon.” We should be able to differentiate between a political stance and hate speech without resorting to a blanket ban. You know how you can tell they weren’t overly controversial? There wasn’t two minutes of hushed whispers throughout the assembled crowd when Busquet and Colman arrived. I bet the shirts probably got a second look or two, or an eyeroll, but the reaction wasn’t Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn showing up to their own funeral. Furthermore, the shirts did not disrupt poker from being played at the final table. The tournament went on as slated, the players looked like they usually do and so on. If the EPT felt the shirts were causing a problem or were in fact hate speech they could have asked them to be removed, and considering the highly competent staff the EPT has, I trust that nobody was offended on site. It happens in sports all the time I’ve also seen several statements of “this would not be allowed in other sports,” which is a bad analogy as poker players have to pay to play and are not employees, but more importantly it HAS happened in other sports. Sometimes the person gets fined other times they don’t. Several pro athletes have refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner (for a variety of different reasons), most notably Carlos Delgado and Mahmoud Abdul Raouf. The Miami Heat wrote pro Trayvon Martin messages on their sneakers. Tim Tebow often played wearing eye black with bible verses written on them. More to the issue at hand, there have been several high profile incidents with football players displaying pro-Palestine messages. The point is, there are often overt and covert political statements in sports and a fine to these multimillionaire players is akin to issuing a two-hand penalty at a poker table. The slippery slope I’ve asked this question to many of the principles on the “no political messages” side on social media, but nobody seems to want to give me a straight answer, so here it is again: Where do we draw the line?
Hillary 2016?
Ron Paul shirts?
I Support the PPA?
A shirt with a pot leaf on it?
Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?
A Gadsden Flag?
Che Guevara shirts?
Is a Star of David expressing support of Israel?
Free Tibet?
Benghazi?
Meat is murder?
The IRS are crooks? By asking PokerStars to disallow Free Palestine and Save Gaza you are also forcing them to remove all of the above. The case being made is even though the shirts weren’t hateful or inciting violence, politics has NO place at a poker table. The decision by PokerStars to ban provocative shirts is a perfectly sound one in my opinion, but a blanket policy (made in what appears to be knee jerk fashion) that extends to all political messages is a very slippery slope. I’m sorry, but if “Free Palestine” is so offensive it is the reason behind the rule being needed, then every shirt listed above has to be barred to remain consistent. The better policy is to either impose a strict dress code (no logos or writing of any kind), or stick to the old way, and look at it on a case-by-case basis – feel free to use my common sense test of “would this shirt get me punched in the face?” In my personal opinion, short of vulgarity or advocating violence there is no reason to disallow clothing unless you have a specific dress code in place, and PokerStars and every other tournament already had vulgarity and violence covered with their “we have the right to refuse” blanket rules. This new rule is simply unnecessary and far too broad. Basically, it offers PokerStars and their staff no wiggle room if someone complains about a shirt so long as it can be seen as being even slightly political. The old way, where TD’s and staff had discretion, and could use common sense, was better in my opinion. Although, now, because of the attention this has received, it would seem impossible for PokerStars to carry on with the status quo because certain people are likely to troll the televised tournaments to see what they can wear and get away with. It seems PokerStars was put between a rock and a hard place, and my hope is they will relax their new policy down the road. Photo Credit: PokerNews.com Previous Post Next Post 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.

Lawmakers shelved California’s two online poker bills this year citing the need for “patience,” to make sure they “get it right.” This is an excellent sentiment, we should strive to get laws “right,” and one I would wholeheartedly agree with if California hadn’t spent the past five-plus years trying to get it right. Patience is fine, but what California is doing is more along the lines of procrastinating. So when will a bill legalizing online poker pass the California legislature? According to industry experts and analysts it could be next year, or it could be as far away as 2018. In a recent conference call, Caesars Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber touched on California (prompted by a question from Adam Krejcik of Eilers Research) saying, “We’ve already started our lobbying effort for 2015 quite heavily,” adding that they want a bill passed in California and they “expect in 2015 that it’s going to become a reality.” But Garber’s optimism is not shared by some others, who feel the numerous interests are further apart than Garber believes them to be. One such naysayer is the poker media outlet iGamingPlayer.com, which published an article citing 2018 as a more likely target date due to the recent and impending departure of several key online poker advocates from the legislature. Most notably among iGamingPlayer’s concerns is the indictment of former online poker champion Assemblymen Roderick Wright, and the upcoming retirement of Senator Lou Correa, the author of the failed Senate Bill 1366 this year. The article makes several solid points, but as some pointed out on Twitter, the 2018 date seems somewhat arbitrary. California’s size is working against it The fact of the matter is that California’s politics are a bit more cumbersome than other states’ and the state’s size makes even the most mundane policy changes difficult – and for what it’s worth, online poker is far from mundane. California is the size of most countries, and has a similar population to Poland (38 million). In fact, California has more residents than the country of Canada, which boasts a total population of just 34 million. Furthermore, California’s economy is the 8th largest in the world, and accounts for a massive 13% of the U.S. GDP. Basically, we are not dealing with a typical state legislature, we are dealing with a legislative body that is more along the lines of parliament and one that has to consider many conflicting points of view and interests. San Diego’s interests are about as closely aligned to San Francisco’s as Boston’s are to Baltimore’s, which means California’s 40 Senators and 80 Assembly members have conflicting goals, and the one size fits all approach that often works in other states simply falls flat in California. California’s gaming interests are divergent In addition to its size working against it, California also has a rich history of gaming with different blocs all trying to maintain their hold on their piece of the pie. The power players want to keep the power and the second and third tier entities want to increase their power. The state has five layers of gaming interests:
Large tribal casinos
Card rooms
Small tribal casinos and non-gaming tribes
Race tracks
Lottery The issues that must be resolved will require the appeasement of each of these groups sans the state lottery, and perhaps race tracks. The large tribal casinos are the only entities allowed to offer comprehensive gambling in the state and they want to keep it that way. Large tribes are not going to sign off on an online poker bill that is more beneficial to the groups beneath them than to themselves. Card rooms are just that, casinos that are able to offer a variety of different card games, mainly poker. The larger card-rooms see online poker as a way to increase their revenue, brands, and player pools, while the smaller card rooms are fearful that high licensing costs and strict restrictions may shut them out completely. Smaller and out of the way tribes (where a mega-casino simply would not work) can also offer comprehensive gambling if they desire, or, if they limit their number of machines, or if they do not offer gaming whatsoever they are able to draw from a fund setup by the state and contributed to by the larger gaming tribes. The smaller tribes want any online poker bill to include a new or amended revenue sharing deal to make sure they continue to benefit from the larger or better-placed tribes gaming windfalls. Race tracks feel they are being left out of the mix, as the bills introduced in 2014 would not allow them to even apply for a license, even if they could somehow come up with the money to do so. Unlike smaller tribes that could receive revenue sharing or smaller card rooms that may be able to finagle a bill that would allow skins to be created, if the race tracks are left out of the bill they are out. All things considered, it’s really not surprising that California is currently batting 0-6 on passing an online poker bill since 2009. Photo credit: Shutterstock 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.

One of poker’s best ambassadors, Poker Hall of Famer and Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein, penned an opinion piece regarding the various “bad actor” clauses that are appearing in many states’ potential online poker legislation. Those “bad actor” clauses would prohibit companies who offered online gaming to U. S. citizens following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 from being, at the most, able to operate in the United States and, at the minimum, force them into a “waiting period” up to five years. Last week Greenstein took to his personal blog to discuss the usage of these clauses, which are prominent in any potential California regulation of the industry. “Everybody knows this provision [the clauses] is specifically written into these laws to exclude PokerStars,” he writes. Greenstein details his discussions with PokerStars legal staff and upper management that took place since the passage of the UIGEA. He ensures that the players’ monies were always safe (proven by the quick repayment of U. S. players following “Black Friday”). In one case in particular, Greenstein notes that PokerStars withdrew from the state of Washington following passage of their anti-online poker legislation. He also recounts the actions of the company regarding payment processors who weren’t legitimately operating. When it comes to the potential usage of the “bad actor” clause, Greenstein notes two main reasons why this clause shouldn’t be allowed. Citing the settlement between the U. S. Department of Justice and PokerStars regarding the “Black Friday” indictments, Greenstein states: Greenstein demonstrates that the settlement, as well as the resulting clarification by the DoJ in December 2011 of the Wire Act of 1961 (what had been the “law of the land” regarding the legality of online poker in the U. S.), should be opening the gates for PokerStars’ return to U. S. soil. Instead, the settlement – and the ongoing indictment of PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg and payment processor Paul Tate – is being used as a roadblock by competitors and politicians to retroactively punish PokerStars, something that isn’t allowed in the U. S. under what is called a “bill of attainder” (legislative punishment rather than judicial punishment). Greenstein concludes: While Greenstein’s opinion is well thought out (if there is one person in the poker world that you would like to have an intelligent discussion with, it would be Barry), there are some flaws in his arguments. PokerStars did operate in the U. S. post-UIGEA, violating the “law of the land” at that point. Regardless of the civil charges against the company by the DoJ, or the change in the DoJ’s reading of the Wire Act, those in charge at the time did knowingly decide to flaunt the laws. Then there are Scheinberg and Tate (who, along with Absolute Poker’s Scott Tom, are the only three from the 11 criminally indicted in 2011 that have yet to be apprehended by U. S. authorities), the two men who were in charge following the UIGEA passage. Although PokerStars’ owner, the Rational Group, decided to sell the company to Amaya Gaming this summer, that doesn’t change the fact that Scheinberg and Tate knowingly continued to violate what was law at the time. A change in ownership doesn’t discount what the company has previously done. While it may not be right, there has to be someone that “pays the piper” for the past transgressions of PokerStars and its management, and that could very well be Amaya Gaming and online poker players in general. Through the “bad actor” clauses, many states are looking to enact that punishment on PokerStars. The constitutionality of such moves will be the big question, and something that might tie up any online poker legislation for the foreseeable future. Previous Post Next Post amaya|pokerstars About Earl Burton Earl has written about poker, its participants, its politics and its growth over the past 10 years and is one of the most highly respected poker journalists in the game today.

Not since the Lederer Files has the poker community been as fired up as they were following the publishing of a Newsweek feature story on online gambling that paints the industry in a very negative light. The article, How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand by Leah McGrath Goodman included one of the most tacky and fanciful pictures you’ll ever see, a sullen fair-haired boy of about 9 holding a tablet with a royal flush covering the entire screen. Fear-mongering at its finest. The message was clear: Online poker is going to destroy families and turn little Timmy into a problem gambler; a claim the highly provocative article couldn’t even deliver on, as it never mentions pre-teens, and loosely uses the terms “kids” to describe college age and 18-25 year-olds. The picture it would seem served only one purpose. More problems than just the picture The picture and headline were enough to have most people’s “Fraud Alert” sirens going off and by the time you got a few paragraphs in you were probably on Defcon 4. This was going to be an article you’d need to read more than once, and one of those instances where you’re so worked up you’ll want to wait a few minutes before you hit the send button. Riddled with inaccuracies and misleading statements, the article would have made for a great opinion-editorial, but a feature story, or investigative journalism it is not. Here are eight separate articles that refute Newsweek’s article in the order they appeared. Steve Ruddock, Bluff Magazine:
Newsweek Paints Online Gambling as Threat to American Family Chris Grove, OnlinePokerReport.com:
11 Serious Problems With Newsweek’s Weird Tirade Against Regulated Online Gambling Haley Hintze, Flushdraw.com:
Bad Journalism: The Newsweek Online Gambling Propaganda Parry Aftab, Founder and Director, WiredSafety in Letter to the Editor sent to Newsweek:
Letter to the Editors a response to the criticism Leah McGrath Goodman received is included after Aftab’s statement Donnie Peters, PokerNews.com:
An Open Letter To Newsweek: There Are Questions To Be Answered John Mehaffey, USPoker.com:
Newsweek Needs to Correct Glaring Errors in Online Poker Story Eric Raskin, All In Magazine:
How Newsweek failed readers by running a slanted opinion article in the guise of a reported feature Dan Cypra, PocketFives.com:
Newsweek on Ripping Online Poker: “No Bias For or Against Online Gambling” Where are her supporters? Comments are overwhelmingly negative How bad was the article? Consider the comment section under the original, which at present boasts an impressive 159 responses. Of those 159 comments I haven’t seen a single one that agree with the article, or feels the article isn’t a one-sided attack piece. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Nada. While I may have missed a positive comment or two as I perused them, but even giving her the benefit of the doubt that there are a few, the fact that the article is being viewed overwhelmingly negatively is actually a good thing, as few people are being fooled by it. If McGrath Goodman had done a fine job investigating the story and creating a truthful story arc of what occurred, wouldn’t many have rushed to her defense? Twitter is just as bad Although she did seem to have one defender, Leah McGrath Goodman’s Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree following the article making the social media rounds. At first it looked like she may have some fight in her as she was responding to most of the sensible comments, but like many who have drawn the ire of the Twitter-savvy poker world, she was quick to “shut it down” for a while, and avoid the comments. To her credit, she did come back to the fight later on (after posting a response to the criticism underneath the Letter to the Editor by Parry Aftab cited above) and responded to some more tweets. Making lemonade I know this story will be widely read (it’s Newsweek after all) and my hope is that this article’s bias is so apparent that it actually helps online poker legislation. I personally feel that pro-regulation advocates have the stronger argument and don’t need to resort to fear-mongering tactics to gain supporters. When looked at side-by-side the clear choice is FOR regulation. In a poll several months back, Farleigh Dickinson University asked people if they were in favor of legalizing online gambling, and the response was overwhelmingly no, but a second question could help explain that answer, as only 15% knew “a lot” about the issue and 44% knew “nothing at all.” Perhaps Newsweek’s column will help raise the awareness of this issue. 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.

The news that online poker expansion is officially off the table for 2014 came as a crushing blow to advocates of expanded online gambling in California, dashing the hopes of many people who felt 2014 was the year. Still, if we’ve learned one thing from California, it’s that they will give it a try once again in 2015. Rumors have already started to fly that another online poker bill will be introduced at the start of the next legislative session this December by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. In true Sisyphus fashion, the state will pick up their rock from the bottom of the hill and once again try to roll it up the mountain in 2015 – even after failed attempts in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. A new online poker bill before the end of the year wasn’t the only good news on the online poker front either, as amid all of the sullenness surrounding the death of the 2014 bills, the second annual iGaming Legislative Symposium has already been scheduled for February 2015. The Symposium is an important forum for California’s varied interests to be heard and make their cases. So, while California’s online poker dreams have been dashed for 2014, the fight is certainly not over, and the state is looking to capitalize on the momentum gained in 2014, with California seeing advancement on several contentious issues, including near consensuses on licensing costs and number of sites per operator. However, several major wedge issues still remain to be resolved:
The fate of PokerStars and Bad Actor / Tainted Asset clauses
The inclusion / exclusion of race tracks and in what capacity they might be involved
A potential new revenue sharing deal with smaller tribes
Licensing requirements, particularly towards small card rooms and small tribes Hopefully the proposed Jones-Sawyer bill expected in December touches on all of these issues, and if not, perhaps the iGaming Legislative Symposium or more hearings in the legislature will provide the public platform needed to bring about a compromise. The original Jones-Sawyer bill The best way to get a feel for what the Jones-Sawyer bill of 2015 might look like is to look back at Jones-Sawyer bill (version 1.0) from 2014. Known as AB 2291, Jones-Sawyer’s Assembly bill was an extremely tribe-friendly piece of legislation that essentially sought to keep all of the gaming income in California – land-based and online – firmly in the hands of the major tribes and a few major card rooms. The bill was meant to offer an alternative to the reincarnated Senate bill introduced by Senator Lou Correa, as well as to replace the proposed online poker legislation of disgraced Assemblyman Roderick Wright, who was the former online poker darling of the California Assembly. Senator Lou Correa’s bill seemed more sophisticated and nuanced than the Jones-Sawyer bill (which shouldn’t be surprising considering Correa’s bill has been kicking around for a couple years) and while the two bills were quite similar they did have some differences. AB 2291 would have done the following:
Authorize intrastate online poker and disallow interstate compacts
Create 10-year, non-transferable licenses, with an upfront $5 million fee
Preemptively ban the state from adopting or opting into a federal online gambling bill AB 2291 also featured exclusive licensing, requiring licensees to be federally recognized tribes as well as card-rooms, and requiring them to have five years experience in brick & mortar poker. As noted above, this bill favored California’s power players. The major differences between the bills was that AB 2291 allowed for unlimited domain names and was not specific about its Bad Actor clause, whereas SB 1366 called for a permanent ban on sites that operated in the US post December 31, 2006. The Jones-Sawyer bill also contained far more vagaries, especially when it came to its Bad Actor language. The bill did contain Bad Actor language but left the preclusion period blank, which seemed to indicate a willingness to modify that part of the bill based on the overall consensus. Overall, the Jones-Sawyer bill of 2014 seemed like a placeholder, designed to counter SB 1366’s more contentious aspects. Jones-Sawyer 2.0 Whether the planned Jones-Sawyer online poker bill of 2015 will be more specific, or if the Assemblyman will simply reintroduce a more or less unchanged version of his 2014 bill is unknown at this time, but some changes will likely be made due to the changing climate. The bill will likely include the newly agreed upon licensing details, and will almost certainly still explicitly exclude race tracks. What if any Bad Actor language will be included is a complete unknown at this point as well, but considering the tribes that backed the original Jones-Sawyer bill (most notably the Agua Caliente and Pechanga tribes) are part of the coalition of 13 tribes that called for barring PokerStars. What is known is that any Bad Actor clauses included in the bill will have to be very specific, as this is the major issue at hand in California, and this has advanced a great deal since Jones-Sawyer 2014 was first introduced. The final aspect the bill will potentially have to address is a new revenue sharing deal between the tribes. It’s my belief that this will not be addressed in the first drafts of California’s 2015 bills. iGaming Legislative Symposium Along with the proposed Jones-Sawyer bill, Californians in favor of online poker expansion can also pencil in February 26, 2015 as an important date on their calendars, as Pechanga.net and the Spectrum Gaming Group will host the second annual iGaming Legislative Symposium. Considering the number of issues that still need to be worked out in California these types of forums, along with the hearings in the legislature are extremely necessary. Here is the complete press release detailing the February Symposium. SACRAMENTO, CA — (Marketwired) — 08/07/14 — Pechanga.net and Spectrum Gaming Group will host the second annual iGaming Legislative Symposium February 26, 2015, at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. Attendees will include state legislators, gaming regulators, tribal and commercial gaming operators, and Internet gaming experts from around the world. Building on the momentum of the inaugural 2014 conference, the symposium will continue to examine the critical issues regarding the legalization of online gaming in California as well as other states. “While there have been many obstacles on the path to legalized iPoker in California, proponents are making progress,” said Victor Rocha, editor-in-chief of Pechanga.net, the leading gaming-industry news aggregator since 1998. “These are complex issues and the iGaming Symposium will explore in detail all aspects of the issues.” “The iGaming Legislative Symposium brings together the most important thought leaders in Internet gambling, tribal governance, and California politics. Anyone who may have a stake in the outcome of Internet gambling legislation in California will want to attend this conference,” added Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, the globally recognized research and consulting firm. To learn more about this event, visit www.igamingsymposium.com. Please email [email protected] to be added to the mailing list for updates or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities. 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.

The news that California will have to wait at least another year for online poker took a lot of the wind out of the sails of the iGaming world, but the failure of the legislature to pass a bill shouldn’t overshadow the significant progress that was made in the state. Yes, a lot still needs to be ironed out for online poker to pass in 2015, but we are closer than ever in California, something that was noticeable in many of the comments made following the announcement that the legislature would not be acting on online poker before going to recess at the end of the month. Senator Lou Correa State Senator Lou Correa, the sponsor of SB 1366 was the first person to signal that the legislature would not be acting on online poker this session, when he told the LA Times on Wednesday that, “Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right,” and stated that there simply wasn’t enough time to get a compromise bill done. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer On Friday, PokerNews.com’s Matthew Kredell heard from a representative speaking on behalf of Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who sponsored AB 2291. The representative told PokerNews.com that the Jones-Sawyer bill “to legalize online poker in California will not have enough time to pass this legislative session,” but added “that a new bill will be the first one introduced by the assemblyman for the next session in December.” The PokerStars coalition On Friday PokerStars and their California iPoker partners released a three-part statement where they made it clear that they will be advocating for a bill as soon as possible, and that their alliance is still intact and strong. ————– ——————– Coalition of 13 tribes Much like the PokerStars alliance, the coalition of 13 tribes that lined up in opposition to PokerStars also released a statement this past week. The coalition struck a similar tone to PokerStars and company (no bill is better than a rushed bad bill) although that singular wedge issue is apparently still keeping the two coalitions apart. Twitter reactions Previous Post Next Post 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.

Summer in California is a time to enjoy beaches, palm trees, and sunshine. Evidently, that’s exactly what the parties involved with online poker discussions in the state are doing instead of finding agreeable terms to pass legislation. Online poker players will have to wait until December to see any more movement in California, and it will likely be well into 2015 before the possibility of legislation passage comes into view again. Confirmation came through late this week that both online poker bills in the Sunshine State are shelved. Dead. Put to bed without dinner. Rest in peace, California bills. Goodbye, SB 1366. We Hardly Knew Ye. As August began, legislators prepared to return from their summer recess to face desks covered with more than 1,000 pending bills. With their two-year legislative session coming to an end on August 31, priorities had to be set and work done. When the Los Angeles Times reported about the August 4 return of the lawmakers, Internet poker was near the top of the list of topics, along with regulating medical marijuana and addressing gun laws. Poker players once again hopped on the roller coaster of hope that California would join Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey in the burgeoning US online poker market. They saw the possibilities of such a large state entering the fray, possibly with PokerStars on board, and had visions of nut flushes and full houses dancing in their heads. That was Monday. By the end of the Day on Wednesday, some of those hopes were dashed. California State Senator Lou Correa, a longtime supporter of online poker in his state, told the LA Times that his bill was dead for 2014. And since Correa’s term limits kick in to disallow him from returning to the legislature next year, his online poker efforts are now done. Period. SB 1366 was strong because Correa was the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and had quite a bit of support. However, he told the LA Times on Wednesday that there was not enough time in the session to refine his bill for a vote. The tribes, horse tracks, and card rooms had been unable to agree on terms for the language of the bill, so it was filed away. Correa noted, “Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right.” There was still one more bill pending, that of State Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. Could it, would it possibly be able to survive? And Goodbye, AB 2291. You Had So Much Potential. Jones-Sawyer’s bill was AB 2291. The morning after the shelving of Correa’s online poker effort, PokerNews confirmed that his piece of legislation was also laid to rest. Unlike Correa, however, Jones-Sawyer will be returning to the legislature. He vowed that a new online poker bill will be the first one introduced for the next session this December. He said that progress has been made since AB 2291 was introduced, and the primary points of contention were the bad actor clause and the participation of horse race tracks in online poker. The Jones-Sawyer representative was confident that the debate will result in some sort of compromise and that the efforts of Sheldon Adelson to stop online gambling in the United States had nothing to do with the stalling of the efforts. Tribes Remain Confident in Future A group of 13 tribes released a statement upon the notification of dead online poker bills in California for 2014. The coalition that includes San Manuel, Pechanga, Agua Caliente, Barona, and Pala noted: Most of the tribes in California have been mentally and technologically preparing for the coming of Internet poker. Their active participation with legislators acknowledges the inevitability of the industry’s launch in California. However, most of the tribes remain steadfast in their opposition to PokerStars being allowed to enter the market. Will they change their minds if (and likely when) New Jersey awards PokerStars a license to operate on the East Coast? Could their opinions be changed if Amaya launches a public campaign to gain popularity in the US? There are now many more months to see if any of these possibilities come to pass and if the California online poker entities can come to some agreement on the details of the potential December bill. Dare We Get Hopes Up Again? Yes. All parties involved in online poker legislation decided that they have something to gain by legalizing and legislating online poker for Californians. It will happen. Whether or not a bill will go all the way to passage and become a law in 2015 is another story. It seems likely, but many thought 2014 was the year to follow in the footsteps of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Many will need to see it next year to believe it. Meanwhile, the projections for California online poker are becoming clearer, especially when Chris Grove breaks it down in such a detailed manner as he did at the end of July. By combining and analyzing estimates of revenue from California online poker by professionals like Morgan Stanley as well as realistic looks at the Nevada and New Jersey models in place, Grove came up with a number of nearly $200 million in the first full year of regulated online poker and double that amount when the market matures. The numbers are simply too big to ignore, for potential operators and vendors as well as legislators who are under constant pressure to find revenue-generating paths for California. It will happen. Just don’t hold your breath because it clearly won’t be easy or fast. Previous Post Next Post amaya|pokerstars About Jennifer Newell Jennifer has been writing about poker for nearly a decade, including extensive work as a freelancer, where Jennifer has worked for numerous gaming-related websites, magazines, and blogs with a focus on players, news, and interesting stories. Follow Jennifer on Google+ and Twitter.

Earlier this year the California Senate and Assembly introduced bills that would allow the state to expand their gaming options, adding online poker to the mix that already includes card rooms, tribal casinos and race tracks. The attempt is nothing new, as this marks the fifth year in a row that California has flirted with expanding into iGaming, and even though the state is closer than ever before, it’s starting to look like we can get ready for California’s sixth try next year, as the legislature is running out of time to get something done before the session comes to an end. The online poker bills introduced by Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer are fairly similar but not identical, as they were crafted by two different factions. Additionally, the bills have run into numerous roadblocks since they were introduced, most notably the ongoing fight over who should be allowed to apply for a license should California legalize and regulate online poker, the so-called “Bad Actor” clause. Bad Actor opponents On one side of the aisle is the coalition that includes Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Commerce Casino, the Bicycle Casino, and the Hawaiian Gardens Casino who are calling for lawmakers to strip out any language that would preemptively bar certain companies from applying for an online poker license – namely those that accepted wagers from the US after December 31, 2006. This opposition is not surprising considering all four of these entities have signed an agreement that will see them partner with PokerStars should online poker come to California, and PokerStars falls under the definition of a Bad Actor used in the bills. The PokerStars coalition stance is that the regulators, not lawmakers, should decide which companies are suitable and which are not, just as New Jersey regulators have done. Basically, let the regulators do the job they are paid to do; regulate. Bad Actor proponents On the other side is basically everyone else, or at the very least 13 other tribes. To oppose PokerStars a group of 13 tribes have teamed up, not only voicing their opposition in letters and at public hearings, but going so far as to hold meetings to hash out any disagreements between themselves in order to focus all of their scorn on the PokerStars issue. This coalition of tribes has even drafted their own online poker bill which they were hoping would be introduced by a friendly Senator / Assemblyperson. So far nobody has stepped up to the plate and introduced the bill. The proposed bill contains comprehensive Bad Actor / Tainted Assets language that would preclude a company like PokerStars from even applying for a license in California. This groups stance is that companies that violated UIGEA should not be allowed to participate in the new regulated markets; they should not be rewarded for continuing to operate in the US during that time period. You can read more about this disagreement here: PokerStars Past Under Siege What the Bad Actor debate has done The debate over PokerStars may not have “killed the bill” directly, but the ongoing fight, and the inability by the two sides to come to some type of an agreement has stalled online poker talks in the state, and at this point stalling talks is pretty much the same as “killing the bill.” The legislature has already passed one deadline (all bills were supposed to have been passed by their House of Origin by May 30, 2014) although as I pointed out in an article at OnlinePokerReport.com several weeks ago, there are several potential loopholes to get around this deadline, including the almost farcical “Gut and Amend” solution that allows a lawmaker to essentially erase a current bill that has passed its house of origin and replace it with an entirely new bill. The only restriction being that the bill would have to be passed by both houses. However, there is another more steadfast deadline looming, as the legislative calendar states: Aug. 31 Last day for each house to pass bills (Art. IV. Sec. 10(c), J.R. 61(b)(17)). Final Recess begins upon adjournment (J.R. 51(b)(3)). Essentially, anything that is not passed by August 31 is officially dead. No workarounds, no loopholes, no nothing. If the California legislature does not pass an online poker bill (Senate and Assembly) by August 31 the legislative session comes to an end and any pending bills are wiped from the books. If California doesn’t make some headway on online poker in the very near future we can kiss 2014 goodbye. 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.