California Mulls Latest Online Poker Bill, with Plenty of Ifs, Ands, or Buts
The California online poker legislative push is back from the dead, and so is State Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Saywer (D-59th District) and his bill. Jones-Sawyer’s attempts to unite warring factions in the state’s gaming industry died in 2014 and 2015, along with his poker bills of those same years, but give the man credit: he doesn’t give up easily.
California State Assemblyman Reggie-Jones Sawyer returns with a new online poker bill, but will he succeed where others, including himself, have failed? Don’t hold your breath.
Undeterred, Jones-Sawyer has presented a new bill, AB 1677, aka the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act, which offers little that’s new, although it does provide a platform to at least reignite the debate.
At the heart of that debate will be the question of suitability. Because online poker will see operators taxed, a bill to regulate it would need two-thirds majority vote to pass in the legislature. This is impossible unless all future stakeholders, mainly tribal casinos with political capital and lobbyists, are in agreement.
More of the Same
But blocking that outcome are two diametrically opposed groups of tribal operators, who are determined not to agree on the suitability question.
In one corner, the group that has loosely become known as the Morongo Coalition wants PokerStars to be included in a future market, because it has a commercial deal with the internet giant. In opposition, the group known as the Pechanga Coalition doesn’t, for the opposite reason. Instead, it wants as much of the online poker pie as it can get for itself, and views PokerStars as a threat.
Despite this being the real, inescapable issue, AB 1677 passes the buck on this one, leaving the question of suitability up to gaming regulators.
‘An eligible entity seeking to offer authorized Internet poker games shall apply to the department for a determination of suitability,’ it states. ‘If the department determines the applicant is suitable to receive a license, the applicant shall then apply to the commission for an operator license.
The applicant shall pay an application processing fee sufficient to cover the reasonable costs associated with the determination of suitability and the issuance of the license.’
Without an overt ‘bad actor’ clause inserted into the legislation, it will be unacceptable to the Pechanga coalition and Jones-Swayer can expect to receive a letter denouncing it within a week or two.
Racing Industry Payday
It’s not as though there has been no progress since Jones-Sawyer last tried his luck at legalizing online poker. Last year, Assemblyman Adam Gray pulled off something of a coup by removing another major impediment to regulation: the state’s racetracks.
The racing industry agreed to its own non-participation in a future online poker market in return for the first $60 million in taxes and licensing fees collected from the game each year. That clause is back, but with a slight tweak in that the industry would collect 95 percent of the first $60 million, which would at least allow the state a small reward for its troubles.
A California online poker market would probably generate that much, but only in its first year, especially with the licensing fees set at $12.5 million, as per the new bill. In a new twist, a racetrack would be allowed to act as ‘a service provider,’ but only if its operating partner agrees to split revenues 50/50 with the track. This would seem to be an unlikely partnership.
The debate begins again with the introduction of this bill, but no one is really holding their breath this go-round.
Nevada AG Adam Laxalt Mulling Gubernatorial Run, No Friend to Online Gambling
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is reportedly preparing a run for the Republican slot as a contender for next governor of the Silver State.
If Adam Laxalt becomes governor of Nevada in 2019, he would be just 40 years of age in the state’s most powerful office. The youngest current governor in the US is New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu at 42. (Image: Jerry Henkel/Review-Journal)
Current Governor Brian Sandoval (R) will be forced out of office when his second term comes to a close in early January of 2019. The state’s GOP and the national caucus will work adamantly to keep control of Nevada’s executive branch, and Laxalt, a well-known figure who comes from a long pedigree of lawmakers, likely improves those odds.
But for online gambling proponents, a Laxalt governorship presents a host of potential concerns. The chief legal voice in Nevada has been no friend to the expansion of internet casinos, even with the Silver State being one of just three in the US with legal online gambling.
In late 2016, Laxalt was one of 10 state attorneys general to sign a letter addressed to then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence urging the incoming administration to restore the Wire Act to its original interpretation.
Sandoval routinely scolded Laxalt for his longstanding opposition to online wagering. ‘I am very concerned that anyone representing the state’s legal interests would speak out against current state law in our leading industry,’ the governor said in the fall of 2015.
The AG’s grandfather, Paul Laxalt, was the 22nd governor of Nevada, as well as a US senator. His father is former US Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), who fathered Adam out-of-wedlock with staffer Michelle Laxalt. Domenici only confessed to being Adam’s biological father in 2013.
Six Degrees of Separation from Adelson
It is now a little more than five years since the Department of Justice issued an opinion that the Wire Act pertained only to sports betting, and that general online gambling fell outside the scope of the federal law.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has funded a congressional effort to pass RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, as he believes it’s his moral duty to curtail internet betting. While the proposed legislation from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has received multiple hearings, it’s garnered little support in Washington, DC.
But due to Adelson’s strong influence by way of campaign contributions, RAWA and similar measures continue to loiter the US Capitol.
Should Laxalt officially run, he’ll want to be on good terms with Adelson. During his 2014 campaign to become attorney general, Sheldon and wife Miriam donated $10,000 each. His daughter, Shelly Adelson, additionally gave $5,000.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Laxalt has received roughly $1.5 million in total gubernatorial contributions, per his latest campaign finance filing.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will hold its annual meeting this week at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, which is just steps from the new MGM resort.
Laxalt is scheduled to give a presentation on intellectual property law on Friday. The four-day event is attracting a who’s who of conservatism, with everyone from President Donald Trump and VP Mike free spins pokies Pence to White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and recently appointed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions scheduled to appear.
Controversy arose on Monday after former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was booked to deliver the CPAC keynote, was accused of endorsing pedophilia. The conservative commentator says a video was cleverly edited and that preying on children is ‘vile and disgusting,’ but regardless, CPAC removed him from the convention.
Yiannopolous voluntarily stepped down from his position as a senior editor at Breitbart on Tuesday, vowing to clear his name on his own time. The Nevada State Democratic Party has called on the attorney general to withdraw from the event. As of now, Laxalt is still planning on attending.
PokerStars New Jersey Turns $10 into $100,000 for Lucky Spin & Go Winner
PokerStars New Jersey recently made one online poker player a lot wealthier.
Back on January 29, James Piccolo, a 28-year-old resident of Nevada, was back east visiting his family in Bergen County.
One lucky PokerStars New Jersey Spin & Go player is $100,000 richer after winning a hyper-turbo tournament that landed the 12,000-time prize pool multiplier multiplier. (Image: PokerStars)
The self-described poker professional decided to test his talent on the PokerStars New Jersey platform and sat down at the $10 Sit & Go tables.
After a couple hours of playing the brisk three-handed format, Piccolo was notified that he and two others had landed the prize pool multiplier jackpot. Their combined $30 pot had been multiplied into $120,000, with the winner taking $100,000 and second and third-place finishes receiving $10,000 each.
Roughly 15 minutes later, Piccolo’s bankroll was a cool $100,000 richer. A video filmed by his brother was quickly posted to YouTube showing the monumental win.
‘We just won $100,000!’ Piccolo told the others in the house. ‘I just had $590. I now have $100,000. This didn’t just happen.’
But it did happen, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Piccolo was in New Jersey visiting his family before his father underwent surgery relating to an unspecified cancer.
The surgery reportedly went well, and Piccolo’s sister got engaged in what’s become a rather celebratory week.
Piccolo told local reports that he moved to the Silver State in 2015 to pursue a career playing poker professionally. However, it doesn’t appear he’s experienced much success, at least on the live competitive circuit.
According to The Hendon Mob, the online database that tracks poker tournament finishes, Piccolo has just three live cashes during his time living in Las Vegas.
His biggest take came in October when he won $1,843 in a $250 No Limit Hold’em event at The Venetian.
Dating back to 2011, Piccolo’s live tournament career earnings consist of seven cashes for a total win of $8,102.
He’s fared better online, he says, and primarily competes via internet rooms from his home in Las Vegas. He explains that he typically plays five or six hours a day, and is making a decent living.
Overcoming the Odds
The Spin & Go format adds an element of pure luck to the poker table. After three players are seated at the table, a random draw determines the pot multiplier.
Seven percent of the buy-in goes to rake, and the odds of the pot simply being doubled are the strongest at 72.92 percent. Piccolo’s table hit the 12,000-time multiplier at ridiculous odds. Just two in every one million games, or 0.0002 percent, land on the top multiplier.
And as unlikely as it was to win on 0.0002 percent odds, Piccolo didn’t seem to have much chance of winning the $100,000.
The third-place finisher bowed out relatively quickly, but that left Piccolo as a deep short stack against the remaining opponent. After gaining the majority of chips, Piccolo’s opponent took a big risk by shoving all-in with Q-7.
Canada Daily Fantasy Sports Expected to Remain Unregulated
Canada daily fantasy sports (DFS) players aren’t necessarily blocked by any federal statute from participating in the online contests, but they also aren’t explicitly authorized to place financial incentives on the games. Led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Parliament has shown little interest in tackling the legality of the growing DFS industry.
Social media observers noted Ivanka Trump had her eyes locked on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his White House visit. His eyes, however, are locked on a variety of pressing policy issues, but tackling Canada’s daily fantasy sports industry isn’t one of them. (Image: Sean Kilpatrick/Associated Press)
Unfortunately for Canadians looking for a more regulated DFS environment, that reality isn’t expected to change anytime soon.
Online gambling is a legal gray area throughout the country, though the practice of placing money on internet games is common. That’s because Canada’s federal government and provincial jurisdictions spend little time prosecuting online casinos or internet gambling patrons unless the actual operation’s network servers are based on domestic soil.
McGill University Professor Jeffrey Derevensky, who directs the school’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, would like to see the government intervene on DFS.
‘When you’re putting money down to win money and there’s a probability that you’re not going to win money, then that’s gambling,’ Derevensky told CBC News this week. ‘Fantasy should have those same kind of responsible gambling features built into their site.’