Posts Tagged ‘online poker’

Online Poker Bill Passes Committee Vote in New York

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

online poker in new york
Online poker has been talked about in the New York legislature since 2012 but wasn’t actually considered seriously till 2015. New York Senator John Bonacic first sponsored a bill to legalize online poker in 2012, but it never made it to committee, the first step necessary on the way to legalization. Senator Bonacic, chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said that he never intended to push the bill through at that time. He just wanted to get the ball rolling so that legislators could start discussing the pros and cons of internet gaming (iGaming). The bill was re-written by gaming committee chairman J. Gary Pretlow and introduced in the gaming committee in 2015, but it stalled and never made it out of the committee.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s a different story. This time the bill, S.5302-B, sailed through on a 9-0 vote. The vote for the online poker bill did not take place publicly, with the entire hearing lasting only four minutes. Sen. Bonacic issued a brief statement on the legislation: “S.5302-B took a necessary step forward today with its vote out of the Racing Committee. The Bill now goes to the Finance Committee and I anticipate having ongoing discussions with my colleagues in both Houses regarding this bill as session moves forward.”
There now appears to be real momentum for online poker in New York. This comes in spite of the fact that there has been so much negative publicity concerning New York’s Attorney General declaring daily fantasy sports as illegal online gambling. So, it doesn’t seem that New York is anti-gambling online at all. They just want to make sure that everything is regulated to guarantee player protection. And, of course, to insure that New York gets its share of tax revenue.

The executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas, offered this statement after the vote: “The PPA thanks Chairman John Bonacic and the Committee for acting quickly to pass iPoker legislation through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. If passed into law, the bill would provide New Yorkers who play poker online with a safe and regulated environment, while bringing in revenue for the state. We encourage the Finance Committee to move quickly to usher the legislation through the Senate, and also urge the Assembly to move forward with their respective legislation.” Pappas also said that “It would be a mistake for New York to wait for its brick-and-mortar casinos to go online. Moving Internet poker legislation now would establish an existing customer base of poker players for brick-and-mortar casinos when they open their doors for business.”

The Senate Finance Committee will next host the bill, but that hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Borgata Nabs First Online Gambling License

Monday, October 7th, 2013

With the start of legalized online casino gambling in the United States, it’s time we start paying closer to who has been given official permission to go live (beyond a partnership between online brands and brick ‘n mortar casinos).

First out of the gate is, arguably, Atlantic City’s most swanky gambling destination – the Borgata Hotel Casino. The Borgata is the first casino property in the New Jersey gambling market to gain full allowance to take wagers at the end of next month.

According to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, the well-known casino was the first to file a complete application to offer online gambling. The Borgata has chose bwin.party as its online brand partnership.

Gambling enthusiasts in New Jersey will have a little more on their plate than turkey during this year’s Thanksgiving Weekend, as the official launch date for wagering online will begin the morning of November 26 (so long as a trial period commencing on November 21st and lasting five days, goes off without too many hitches). The trial period will be free of real money wagering and works as a preview for players and a testing period for software and website operations. This is typical and practiced in other online gambling markets.

As will be in the case in all legislated US states, gamblers will have to be physically located within New Jersey’s boundaries to play for real money online. New Jersey stands to be the third state in the nation to offer online gambling (along with Nevada and Delaware), albeit New Jersey has the most highly anticipated launch with most every property set to go live as soon as permits are granted.

The enthusiasm in Atlantic City stems from simple necessity, designed to give the besieged casinos new revenue they so desperately need. Atlantic City’s casino revenue has sunk from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to little more than $3 billion in 2012 (and could very well continue to sink below that mark this year). Neighboring states providing brick and mortar competition, Superstorm Sandy and a handful of other damaging events has brought upon New Jersey the worst decline in tourism in the state’s history.

The Borgata definitely has a comfortable edge as the first licensed casino online. Even though most every other Atlantic City property has a partnership underway, licensing for these other casinos is likely to come some months after the November 26th launch, thus giving The Borgata a healthy headstart within the burgeoning New Jersey online gambling market.

Among the other operators that have applied for a license is Caesars Entertainment, which is partnering with 888 Holdings in New Jersey and already has its eye on interstate compacts. Looking to expand straight out of the gate, Caesars has the plan to work with Nevada, through the World Series of Poker brand (WSOP).

Worth noting, in partnership with Resorts Casino, PokerStars may be brought back to life with the US online poker market if New Jersey approves its license application. Poker gaming giant Poker Stars was seemingly put to bed after the huge Black Friday fallout with the US Justice Department. It just goes to show that the online gambling industry is gaining much steam, and further legislature in the US (whether on a State-by-State or federal basis) is only a matter of time.

Washington State Supreme Court Upholds Legislation to Ban Internet Betting

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

It was a long shot – some would even say pointless. Yet, the fact that Washington State attorney, Lee Rousso, was able to get a Washington Supreme Court to rule on whether or not a relatively recent imposed ban against online poker is unconstitutional, goes to show that a fight is on…and it’s far from over.

Rousso’s got some balls, if you ask me. An avid online poker player himself, Rousso has been pursuing the case for roughly three years to this point. Unhindered by the court’s ruling that the 2006 legislature enacted to ban online gambling did not overeach public policy, nor violate the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, Rousso says he will now appeal the decision on a federal level with the U.S. Supreme Court. And he wants the online betting community to help him fight the ban.

Rousso had the following to say: “Unfortunately, the court has upheld an unpopular prohibition,” Rousso said in a statement. “Poker players in this state need to make their voices heard. Now more than ever we need to rally together to fight this outrageous law. I hope the poker community will stand with me as I appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The upside to all this is that Justice Richard B Sanders said in his ruling that the “evidence is not conclusive” and that a decision to uphold the ban should not be taken as an endorsement of the legislation itself, but rather, as an endorsement of the State Legislature’s ability to do so. In other words, there are pros and cons for both regulation and prohibition, and nobody really knows whether one will prove more effectice than the other. Well, at least the people in charge, I mean.

Atlantis Internet Group Signs With Cake to Power Tribal Online Poker

Monday, September 13th, 2010

AtlantisInternetGroup2In what could be a sign of things to come for online casino gambling in the United States, Las Vegas-based Atlantis Internet Group has signed an agreement with the popular Cake Poker Network (powering U.S. favorite, Doyle’s Room), to create a wide area online poker network for players residing in regulated tribal casino State’s.

While this may seem, at first, a bold and dangerous move in light of the UIGEA – albeit an ineffective online gambling ban – Atlantis Internet Group Chief Executive, Donald L. Bailey, says the agreement will give the Tribal Gaming Network (a patent pending intratribal/intrastate online casino network) an “immediate and legal solution” for tribes seeking to offer internet betting.

That’s because the UIGEA has exemptions for Indian Casinos, intertribal internet gaming, as well as State’s with intrastate online gambling laws. Personally, that’s news to me – I thought the only carveouts in the UIGEA were for horseracing, lotto and fantasy sports betting.

TribalGamingNetworkBut according to the National Indian Gaming Commission, which oversees tribal casino regulations in the State’s, the Tribal Gaming Network is 100% legit. It’s also 100% loaded. Synced with over ten tribal casinos and potentially allowing players in thirty State’s to play online casino games, the Tribal Gaming Network has the potential of offering one of the largest wide area progressive jackpot networks on the Web.

For now, Atlantis Internet Group has it’s sights on online poker, which currently holds the greatest potential of becoming regulated in State’s where tribal casino gambling is legal. California leads the way with an amended poker bill scheduled for legislative action before the year is out, while both New Jersey & Florida are considering similar options.

The Cake Network is certainly a great choice for launching an online poker network. With thousands of players online at any given moment and an open door to the U.S. online poker market, Cake will give the Tribal Gaming Network instant liquidity, not to mention credibility, while a giant surpluss of players will only serve to strenghten Cake in return.

Vocal Opponent of U.S. Online Gambling Regulation Does About Face

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
I HAD to put this picture in... just couldn't help myself.

I HAD to put this picture in... just couldn't help myself.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid is hard to pin. I mean, let’s face it, he’s a politician is he not? The Nevada Democrat who holds the reigns in the U.S. Senate has made a “surprising” turnaround, recently citing he stands behind the regulation of online gambling. Now, it would be another thing if Reid, who obviously knows something about the casino gambling industry, was indifferent or even undecided in his views about online gambling. However, Reid has been nothing but the opposite, in fact, actively taking an outspoken stand against the legalization of online gambling in the States.

So what, my dear friends, has caused Reid to change his mind? I’ll give you one guess. It smells like paper and rhymes with funny. You see, while Reid has a little man on his left shoulder, letting him know how important Las Vegas is to Nevada, there’s a louder, larger man on his other shoulder telling him that Nevada needs tax revenue – and the constituents of Nevada far outweigh the sway of the casino operators. Right? Errr, it could very well be the other way around given other circumstances and a different time, i.e., when the mob ruled Vegas, which is exactly why Reid deserves at least some credit. I mean, he is supporting the regulation of online gambling, is he not?

Granted, one of the largest players in Las Vegas, Harrahs Entertainment, has come out of the closet to proclaim support of online gambling regulation, also formerly taking an open stance against online casinos. So, even with some vocal disappointment being expressed by some of Las Vegas’ casino operators (mainly the smaller guys), the big dogs like Harrah’s and most likely MGM are waiting patiently for the time to pounce and launch online versions of their bread and butter offering.

Also, Congressman Barney Frank’s bill to overturn the UIGEA recently passed the House of Representatives and is serving a dual purpose of helping educate lawmakers on why it’s more important to regulate than ban and how online gambling can be effectively regulated, in particular, preventing underage and problem gambling addictions. In other words, Reid could very well be coming around simply because it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, more U.S. Senators will do the same.

Over $13 Million Settlement Reached Between U.S. Feds and Online Poker Payment Processor

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Apparently the U.S. government wants to be "allied"

The US government wants to be allied

It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to find it difficult keeping up with all the money the U.S. federal government is seizing. Don’t get me wrong my fellow U.S. citizens and pro-online gamblers – I’m not saying the feds can just swoop in at any time and seize all of you online gambling funds. Okay, maybe they can. But the chances of it from happening are pretty slim. Besides, even if they were to commit such a rude act, you would still get your money back. That is, of course, if you were playing at a reputable site to begin with.

Anyhow, I preface this blog post with such an anecdote because – you guessed it – U.S. Federal officials have once again reached a big-money settlement for (lack of a better phrase) lost wages spent online gambling. Getting their greasy paws on some badly needed cash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan (who else), has successfully strong armed the payment processor, Allied Wallet and Allied Systems, into coughing up $13.3 million said to be deposited into a bank account between January and May of 2009.

More specifically, the funds were traced back to the “world’s largest online poker room”, Poker Stars, which everybody knows is open to doing business with U.S. online poker players. Said account was with Goldwater Bank in Scottsdale, Arizona, and was apparently tagged for receiving wire transfers from undisclosed offshore locations.

Poker Stars, which is legally regulated in the Isle of Man, has not been shy to broadcast they will continue doing business in the U.S. in accordance with legal counsel. In other words, Poker Stars maintains that no U.S. laws are being violated. Granted, they are on record stating, “PokerStars does not condone efforts by processors to conceal the nature or purpose of funds used to play online poker,” and that, “PokerStars has taken steps to ensure that processors properly disclose the nature of their business to their relevant financial institutions.”

Yes indeed, the guys who specialize in a game all about calling bluffs and checking opponents, know how to deal with the U.S. government. Interestingly enough, the feds haven’t directly gone after big operators the likes of Poker Stars, but have instead focused on where the money is – the payment processors. This was the case with the Neteller seizure, recently mirrored by the high profile settlement of $583 million with Canadian payment processor, Douglas Rennick (again, money traced to Poker Stars, as well as Full Tilt), and capped off with a sweet $13.3 million deal with Allied Wallet.

It’s been a pretty good run for U.S. authorities don’t you think? Of course, all this money is truly pocket change to the big players in the multi-billion dollar industry that online gambling is. While the likes of Neteller ran for the border and Allied will likely close up shop, it won’t be long before another payment processor opens an intricate web of accounts even better than Allied, and racks in billions before getting caught and forced to cough up a small dent compared to the real profit these companies are making. Of course, if the U.S. government opts to regulate, in which case they will be making exponential tax revenue compared to these little FBI raids, well, that’s another story.

Poker Stars Passes Increased Rake Fees onto Unhappy Players in France

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

Here’s a message for all you lawmakers out there contemplating drawing up laws to regulate online gambling. Write a law to actually regulate online betting activity, not hinder it. Sure, taxation and regulation tend to go hand-in-hand. But when the taxation policy does not make it worthwhile for operators to do business, then it kind of defeats the purpose does it not?

In the UK, where strict regulatory laws have driven out several top-shelf online betting operators in the last few years, in France, some operators are choosing to pass increases in taxation onto the players themselves. More specifically, the popular online poker room, Poker Stars has dumped a 2% increase in rake charges on French players, as a result of new regulatory laws – which for all intensive purposes – are supposed to liberalize online gambling in France.

Beginning earlier this month, the French government gave an open invitation to offshore betting operators seeking to do business with French citizens – and Poker Stars was one of them. The only catch was that the operators would be required to pay more in taxes than what they were generally accustomed to in other regulatory jurisdictions.

Instead of sucking up the loss, Poker Stars has decided to make the players pay. Mind you, these are the same players who helped make Poker Stars become one of the most popular online poker rooms in the world. Needless to say, players from France are up in arms about the decision to raise the rake charge up to 7.7% (the percentage amount of the pot that is deducted and paid to Poker Stars every hand), and have formed a coup d’etat of sorts.

Taking advantage of the rule called a “sit out”, French players have successfully managed to impose a boycott on Poker Stars. Permitting seated players to “sit out” a hand at a table, the rule is now being exploited to the point where some entire tables are being “sat out” by players. Taking note of the uprising, Poker Stars defended its decision, stating they have been losing money themselves as a result of raised taxes. However, you and me and all the players at Poker Stars know that’s absolute BS.

I guess then it comes down to how greedy does Poker Stars want to be? Whether the staged sit-outs will be enough to get the world’s most popular online poker room to rethink increased rake fees for French poker players remains to be seen.

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When it Comes to a Popularity Contest, Nothing is More Popular Than Online Poker

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Obamaga: The Quest for Facebook Popularity & Online Poker

Obamaga: The Quest for Facebook Popularity & Online Poker

I’ve never been one to keep track of who is the most popular. Chalk it up to the fact that I was never popular myself, nor ever wanted to be, the whole notion of being popular has just always seemed like a shallow concept to me. So no, I really don’t give a crap whether President Barack Obama or pop-star diva Lady Gaga has more Facebook fans, although I have to admit the buzz surrounding a Facebook runoff between the two is fascinating.

Alright, so basically I read an interesting article over at Online Casino Reports stating that Lady Gaga has overtaken President Obama with more Facebook fans. Gaga’s is a whopping 9.9 million fans, while the prez has only 9.4 million. Of course, this is perfect fodder for Republicans and the rest of the anti-Obama establishment who will no doubt turn this into a bumper sticker, or even better, encourage Sara Palin to use it as a debate argument in her next campaign for President.

In terms of online gambling – I mean, this is an online gambling blog and all – you might be wondering where I’m going with all this. Well, although you wouldn’t be far off in conjecturing that the Facebook fan runoff between Obama and Gaga has prompted Bodog and Paddy Power to offer future’s odds on the outcome, what’s more interesting is the fact that neither Barack nor Lady G have more votes than online poker.

To be more precise, there’s apparently a Zynga poker page that has more fan votes than any other page in the “book of faces”. There’s over 20.2 million to be exact – with nearly 150,000 subscribers just through YouTube. That’s more than my fair lady G and Prez O combined. That’s pretty telling if you ask me.

And the funniest (well, maybe not funny to everybody) is the fact that the U.S. government still hasn’t legalized internet poker nor online casino gambling, and that even California – where online poker is sooooo close to getting legalized – may not be able to pull through after all. I mean, I can understand some hesitation legalizing online sports betting, Uncle Sam, but casino and poker? You might as well make Lady Gaga illegal, and Facebook while your at it.

Another Leading Online Gambling Operator Drops out of France

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Uh ya...what the picture says. No Francaise Por Favor?

Ya, what the picture says - No Francaise

What’s that they say about France? They are not so friendly to Americans? Well, how about they are not so friendly to online casinos? Following in the footsteps of said America, the French government has gotten around to passing a bill which apparently legalizes online casino gambling. The only catch is that – according to critics – the bill makes it easier for French gambling monopolies to prosper while giving private operators more reasons not to set up shop in France.

Following the pullout of William Hill and Betfair in France, yet another online casino operator has decided to cease taking bets from French citizens. This time around it’s none other than one of Playtech Software’s longest running licensees: Peak Entertainment. Having operated Omni online casino since the late nineties (the early beginnings of a formidable internet betting industry), Peak Entertainment is now facing another huge drop in traffic with the decision to close it’s doors in France – something they decided to do long ago in the U.S.

However, unlike in the States, where online casino gambling and internet poker is deemed “illegal”, France has made it legal, but with a stiff arm to regulate. The incentive to operate in France (i.e., profitability) is simply not enough for many operators.

As for Peak Entertainment, the company’s affiliate program management team, Focal Click, has just notified all current affiliates that French players will no longer be able to open accounts at Peak’s gaming destinations, and that current players residing in France will have their accounts locked. Otherwise, Peak would be guilty of operating in France, but without paying the apparently steep fees required to do so.

The email notification went on to say that all players will be paid out their entitled funds in a timely manner, which considering Focal Click’s past track record, should be a given. As for Peak’s online poker room, Sun Poker, current sentiment is that it will keep doing business in France so long as Playtech (iPoker network) decides to cease from dropping out.

Top Online Betting Site Domains Leave Cake Poker for Merge Gaming

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Unless we’re talking about Poker Stars or Party Poker, the future of online poker is really all about the poker network. Not just a stand-alone poker room, poker networks are conglomerates of sorts, made up of several poker rooms networked into the same platform, resulting in larger player pools, more tournaments and more guaranteed winnings. But (as I said), that is, of course, unless we’re talking about giants like Poker Stars, who bring thousands of players together through a single roof.

Giants like this, however, are much fewer than the online poker networks currently in business. One of these poker networks is the Cake Poker network, which has become one of the fastest growing, US facing online poker networks since first being launched in 2004. In fact, the Cake Network, boasting such big name clients as Doyle’s Room, has been steadily growing year after year….that is, until now. And no, it has nothing to do with the quasi US online gambling ban.

Cake Poker is now shy three recognizable online betting destinations – PlayersOnly.com, SuperBook.com and Sportsbook.com – each owned by Antigua-based Jazette Enterprises, which announced it will be joining the Merge Gaming poker network. A small but substantial network now made even more substantial with the addition of Jazette, the Kahnawake licensed Merge Gaming said in a press release, “this is an industry-changing deal”.

At the time this post was going to press, Cake Poker had twice as much players online than Merge Gaming (just under 6,000). As you can imagine, these figures will likely shift. As for the guaranteed pool money at Cake Poker ($6 Million in monthly tournaments, including $250,000 Sunday’s), this may also see a change depending on just how many players decide to move over to Merge Gaming.

The good news is that Cake says they intend to honor all Gold Card and Gold Chips, which make up the backbone of Cake’s Rewards and Loyalty program, after the three sites leave the network. Cake is also urging players who would be affected by the transition and who would still like to play online in the Cake network, to contact customer support after the transfer is complete. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an exclusive bonus offer if you ask me.