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Found 29 results

  1. In a recent Scouting Report, PokerScout.com compared the cash game traffic of the US states with legal online poker rooms with traffic data from before Black Friday. PokerScout didn't know the exact pre-Black Friday state-by-state player breakdown, as this is not something that was tracked, but it used traffic data and player demographics from early 2010 to get an estimate. PokerScout found that levels of player activity in New Jersey and Nevada are about the same now as they were before Black Friday. New Jersey is under-performing slightly, while Nevada's current traffic is actually beating its pre-Black Friday numbers. PokerScout attributes Nevada's success to the high concentration of professional poker players in the state as well as its head start as the first US jurisdiction to legalize online poker, which happened almost a year ago. Delaware also has a regulated online gambling market. Looking at PokerScout's data, Delaware's three online poker rooms have only drawn an average of 14 cash game players per day over the past week combined. More people were logging on to poker sites in Delaware before Black Friday than they are now. Delaware did sign an interstate poker compact with Nevada recently, though, so hopefully it will see a boost in traffic once the two states' player pools are combined. PokerScout has drawn two conclusions from its findings. The first is that as long as a state has a large enough population to support online poker, it is possible to predict post-regulation traffic using pre-Black Friday numbers. Second, although limits are set on the potential online poker markets by restricting the player bases to the confines of each state's borders, this is counter-balanced by the fact that the games are legal. As PokerScout puts it, "legality makes up for liquidity." The theory is that even though players had a wider array of sites from which to choose before Black Friday and many of those sites were bigger than the ones that now exist, a smaller percentage of people chose to play because of the questionable legality of the sites. Today, players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware don't have a wide array of options, but they are more apt to give it a go because they likely feel the sites are safer and it is easier to get funds on and off. Looking ahead to other states that have a non-zero chance of legalizing online poker, PokerScout sees the potential poker market in Massachusetts as being slightly larger than that of New Jersey, while Illinois would boast almost twice the number of players as the Garden State. Then there is California. That state would be a behemoth. The most populous state in the US, PokerScout estimates that California could handle 14 poker sites the size of the major ones in New Jersey. Visit PocketFives' Nevada pokercommunity and New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from local players. PokerScout's Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting support@pokerscout.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. On the same day that PokerStars laid out plans to return to the United Statesfor the first time since Black Friday, the highly anticipated meeting of the California State Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee was held, with a great deal of positive conversation about online poker, but no firm actions were taken. The hearing, entitled "The Future Public Policy and Fiscal Implications of Authorizing iPoker Gaming in California," was expected to address several areas of concern regarding online poker in the state. A total of 33 witnesses stepped before the committee and its chairman, Isadore Hall III, addressing such issues how online gambling and poker have worked to this point in New Jersey and Nevada, the effects of the Tribal Indians, and how California card rooms and horse tracks would be affected. Although Hall stated at the beginning that the hearing was "educational in nature" and not focused on either bill currently circulating in the California General Assembly, he did state an obvious goal. "We owe it to the citizens of this great state to craft a bill that can be a national model," Hall indicated. Two of Hall's committee members, Manuel Perez and Brian Nestande, emphasized that there was the need for California to move forward with legislation before the Federal Government became involved. With that, the floor was opened and testimony commenced. One of the early supporters of California's legislation was the former head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Mark Lipparelli (pictured), who is now lobbying for passage of legislation. He contended that regulatory licensing of the potential industry would be the biggest hurdle to overcome. He also spoke about "black market" online poker, saying, "The black market is efficient and well-established." Lipparelli also contended that online poker sites were "not an obvious or likely place to launder funds," but that law enforcement needs money and the appropriate devices to counter the black market. The next series of speakers were from Nevada and New Jersey that discussed their experience with online gambling regulation. Chris Krafcik, Research Director for Gambling Compliance North America, testified that California could support up to six online sites that would bring in between $400 million and $1 billion total. Borgata COO Tom Ballanceand Ultimate Gaming chief Tobin Prior testified that the online elements haven't "cannibalized" their land-based operations, but unregulated operators still have an advantage over them. "The biggest operators in the US online poker market remain the illegal sites," Prior contended. Then there were the Indian Tribes. Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luisefio Indians, signaled that an agreement among the tribes regarding online poker "will be coming in the weeks ahead." As he was making this statement, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians stunned the industry by announcing that PokerStars had entered into a deal with the tribe and three California card rooms: Commerce Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, and the Bike. As the meeting began to draw to a close, Andy Abboud (pictured), Vice President of Government Relations and Community Development for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, used many of the same tactics that have been seen in past appearances, like waving a phone to emphasize how it can become a "gambling device" and comparing online gambling to Big Tobacco. Members of the committee criticized Abboud for his company's opinions. Hall ripped into Abboud as to why the Las Vegas Sands Corporation didn't fight against the efforts in Nevada. "We were unaware" what the Nevada legislature was doing when the bill was passed, according to Abboud. When he was asked why Sands didn't fight in New Jersey, Abboud said the company's position was "evolving." Hall then performed the same cell phone trick that was utilized by US Congressman Joe Barton in a Congressional hearing in December, citing the hypocrisy of the Abboud's position when the company he represents is actively engaged in online gambling at properties on the Las Vegas Strip. The meeting closed with comments from the public, which filled the conference room. Following that process, the meeting was adjourned without any further indication as to future hearings or action on the legislative front. While the hearings showed there was a great deal of support for a proposed California online poker industry, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players.
  3. The online poker traffic monitoring site PokerScout.com published its weekly Scouting Reporton Monday, detailing some of the latest goings-on in the industry. A portion of the piece focused not on what happened in the past, but rather would could possibly happen in the future when it comes to the United States' potential golden poker goose: California. Last week, as readers of this site may remember, the California State Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee held a hearing to discuss the possibility of intrastate online poker. While it took on a decidedly pro-poker tone, no decisions were made about the game's future in the state. If that future includes internet gaming, what might that look like? In its report, PokerScout painted a picture. PokerScout began by comparing California to Spain. The state is a little smaller with 38 million residents (the largest US state), but has "at least" a 50% greater GDP per person and is a poker hotbed. Thus, the potential for a sizeable internet poker industry is substantial. At the hearing, a number of annual revenue figures were presented, but ranged wildly. On the low end, Eilers Research estimated a California market size of $432.4 million, while Morgan Stanley more than doubled that, setting the number at $1.0885 billion. In the middle was a GamblingData projection of $597.3 million. PokerScout then reminded readers that lofty predictions for New Jersey's online gaming market have all sailed far over the actual results, while PokerScout itself, along with Academicon, came in with a much lower estimate for the Garden State. At $39 million for the first year, PokerScout admitted that even that may be high. It explained, though, that regardless of the accuracy of its estimate, it ended up with a more reasonable figure because "it was based on real data on real online poker players." Overall, PokerScout used its deep well of data collected over the years, focusing on player demographics at the peak of the industry, prior to Black Friday. That said, PokerScout projected the California online poker market at less than $250 million, well below even the lowest estimate provided at the hearing. Based on a graph included in its report, PokerScout projected about a $220 million initial year if online poker were restricted to only players within state borders, as it is in New Jersey. If poker gets expanded outside the state's borders via interstate compacts, PokerScout's estimate increased to close to $250 million. Delaware and Nevada have already entered into such a compact, though it has yet to take effect. This assessment likely includes would-be ventures with Nevada and Delaware, as those two small states in terms of population would almost certainly jump at the chance to partner with California. New Jersey has shown some hesitation to join forces with other states, but very well might be willing to team up with the largest state in the country. If online poker were opened up to the entire country, PokerScout's projection climbs to around $320 million for California in the first year. Over the course of the first ten years, PokerScout forecasts growth, but nothing earth shattering. For instance, it sees Year 10 in-state only revenues at about $260 million. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. PokerScout's Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting support@pokerscout.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. In breaking news, PokerStars, the world's largest online poker site, has entered a formal agreement with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three of the largest card clubs in California to supply online poker software and infrastructure when and if the industry is regulated in the state. The Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens joined Morongo in partnering with PokerStars when and if the time comes. The latter will "serve as the subcontractor providing the online poker platform and related servicesfor a real money online poker website to be licensed, owned, and operated by an entity owned by the Tribe and the card clubs," according to a press release obtained by PocketFives. Neither online poker nor internet gambling has been regulated in California. Morongo Chairman Robert Martin commented in the same press release, "We're pleased to announce our agreement with these established and proven organizations that represent millions of California poker players. We're confident that, together, we can offer a safe, secure, high-quality online poker experience that brings financial benefits to California while providing the highest level of accountability, choice, service, and protection for consumers." Director of Strategy and Business Development for the Rational Group Guy Templercommented in the same press release, "PokerStars has a great history with California poker players, who want us in the market. We are the worldwide leader in regulated online poker and hold more national licenses than any other operator. We look forward to bringing our best practices in responsible gaming, online security, e-commerce, protection of players' funds, and game integrity to the California market." Whether PokerStars will actually be permitted to offer its gaming platform to California residents remains to be seen. A statement by the California Tribal Business Alliance in March bluntly stated, "We will strongly oppose any legislation which allows PokerStars to participate" due to its real money presence in the United States after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006. Earlier today, a hearing about online poker was held in California featuring more than 30 witnesses. The state has nearly 40 million residents, making it about 60% as large as the entire country of France and about two-thirds as large as Italy. PokerStars unsuccessfully tried to enter the New Jersey intrastate internet gambling market by purchasing the now defunct Atlantic Club, but the deal fell throughand the casino shuttered its doors in January. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended its review of PokerStars' online gambling license last December for two years pending "significantly changed circumstances" regarding the site's leadership. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest in this still developing story. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. Coming into Day 6 of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, Los Angeles' Eddy Sabat was looking to claim something that he has pursued for the last seven years – a WSOP bracelet. With his 2.215 million in chips, good for 39th place at the start of Day 6, Sabat was in an excellent position to add to what had already been a very successful tournament poker career. He finished in 16th place for $347,000. Although his first tournament cash came in 2007, the poker world began to learn about Sabat with his third place showing at the WSOP Circuit stop at Harrah's Rincon in San Diego in 2008. Buoyed by that deep run in a tough tournament, Sabat pursued the tournament trail throughout the 2008 calendar year, earning his first cash on the World Poker Tour and two cashes at the WSOP. It wasn't until the end of 2008 that Sabat was able to make his first significant mark on tournament poker. Playing on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, Sabat would fight through a 538-player field to take down the championship of the stop in Macau in September 2008. The $453,427 first place check, a lifetime of earnings for some poker players, only spurred Sabat onward. Between that victory and the 2014 Main Event, Sabat was able to claim 16 more WSOP cashes, including four in 2014 alone, three World Poker Tour cashes (including a third place finish in the 2013 WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic), and four European Poker Tour cashes among his 45 resume finishes. For his seven-year career from 2007 to 2014, Sabat made over $2 million in lifetime tournament poker earnings, not counting the 2014 Main Event. He was one of several California poker players making waves in the final moments of the 2014 Main Event.
  6. The Poker Players Alliance conducted a survey in California focused on PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world which vacated the US market on Black Friday. "We have heard from many of you regarding the future of PokerStars in the United States, so we wish to get a sense of the community to help guide our decision-making," the survey said. The results were, on virtually every front, positive for PokerStars. Of the 1,229 people who responded to the survey, 92% (1,134) had played real money or play money poker on PokerStars. When it came to the experience of players with the site, 82% (1,006) responded that they had an excellent or very good experience. On the question of integrity, 82% (997) strongly agreed or agreed that PokerStars demonstrated integrity, and that same figure rated PokerStars' treatment of players when it operated in the United States as excellent or very good. The last two questions addressed Californians' opinions on PokerStars and its potential in the state. When asked if PokerStars should be allowed to be licensed in California, 95% of respondents (1,153) answered in the affirmative and, when asked if they would play on a PokerStars-operated site or one driven by PokerStars' software, the same percentage of people said yes. This has led the PPA to pen an opinion on the proposed "bad actor" language that has been circulating in the halls of Sacramento as the state tries to conjure online poker legislation. In a letter entitled "California 'Bad Actor' Provisions Will Hurt Consumer Choice, Experience," the PPA stated, "Language to exclude certain operators from the California internet poker market is not supported by the poker playing community. Rather, in the opinion of players, the question of suitability should be left to state gaming regulators whom have traditionally served as the gold standard for determining the suitability of operators." "Suitability should be about good character, honesty, integrity, and financial suitability," the PPA letter concluded. "These factors have been sorted out by gaming regulators for decades and it has worked very well in the brick-and-mortar environment. It is the PPA's position that regulators should maintain their role to make these determinations and should be able to do so independent of external political or competitive pressures. This will ultimately result in the strongest market for the consumer." Currently in California, the battle lines have been drawn between factions that are looking to prevent PokerStars from participating in any online poker industry. Thirteen Indian Tribes have offered a draft bill that contains extensive "bad actor" language that would prevent PokerStars from entering the industry. One Tribe, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, has signed a deal, along with the Commerce Casino, Bicycle Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens, to use PokerStars in some form if legislation were passed. The difference of opinion regarding PokerStars and its involvement in any future California online poker industry threatens to derail a process that has, over the past five years, moved in incremental phases, at best. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. In an article that will be published in the next issue of Gaming Law Review and Economics that Bluff Magazinepreviewed, Professor I. Nelson Rose (pictured) of GamblingAndTheLaw.comsays that "bad actor" clauses could be permitted since gambling is considered a vice. That opinion is in contrast to a theory put forth by Laurence Tribe, who said that bad actor clauses could be unconstitutional. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- According to Bluff, "Rose goes on to explain how gambling falls under 'vices' and is therefore subject to the 'state's police power,' which is to protect the 'health, safety, welfare, and morality of its citizens.' Rose continued on, saying, 'state's police power often trumps constitutional rights,' which allows the state governments to ignore Federal law and even the Constitution in some instances." As Rose pointed out, "Gambling implicates no Constitutionally protected right; rather, it falls into a category of 'vice' activity that could be, and frequently has been, banned altogether." Bad actor clauses, depending upon how they're written, could prevent sites that serviced the US market for real money post-UIGEA from receiving licenses. The same could hold true for any rake-based site still in the US after Black Friday. In California, the holy grail of online poker markets due to its population, one bill's bad actor clause contains language that would make software and player lists tainted regardless of ownership, making entry for sites like PokerStarsand Full Tilt Pokerpotentially problematic despite their recent purchase by Amaya Gaming. Tribe (pictured) concluded about the bad actor clauses, "Taking all these infirmities in the bills into account, I believe that they should not, and would not, survive Federal Constitutional attack." As Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas argued, the industry shouldn't be focused on whether "bad actor" clauses could withstand a Constitutional challenge. Rather, as he said, "I think it is past time to put the 'bad actor' language to rest and have the industry work toward passing bills and not throwing their competitors under the bus." When asked what states will be the next to pass legislation regulating internet gambling within their borders, California and Pennsylvania tend to be the two top-of-mind responses among those in the industry. The California legislative calendar ends on August 31, so we'll know more in the very near future. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. While its state legislature continues to wrangle over the questions regarding regulation of online poker within its borders, a California Indian tribe is potentially moving forward with its own real money operation. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Indians last week sent out a press release on Monday saying it would open the first Tribally run online poker site in the United States. Called PrivateTable.com, the press release admitted that the Tribe, while behind the efforts of the California General Assembly to pass regulation, saw a loophole in Federal legislation that governs Indian gaming that would allow it to establish its online poker site for real money. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is a 1988 Federal statute that set up jurisdictional guidelines for tribes in all 50 states to establish casino gaming on their sovereign lands. The purpose of the law was to allow for a method for Indian tribes to generate revenues and encourage economic development, among other things. The regulations are quite specific in scope, but leave out one important component. There are three classes of gaming that fall under IGRA. Class I is what is known as "traditional Indian gaming" that is a part of Tribal ceremonies and celebrations. Class II gaming is those games of chance and non-banked card games. Class III gaming pretty much covers everything else that you might find in a casino such as slots, blackjack, roulette, and craps. The loophole that the Iipay Nation seems to believe exists is that poker is not specifically mentioned by name in any of the language of IGRA. PrivateTable.com has been actively signing up players since late last week. The software is provided by IG Soft (formerly Dobrosoft) and the Iipay Nation has teamed with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission through an inter-jurisdictional agreement that will see the KGC host the site. PrivateTable.com is expected to allow California residents over the age of 18 to take part in cash games and tournaments. The site is also supposed to be limited to California residents, although there hasn't been much discussion from Iipay, KGC, or others about what geo-location or confirmation of residency will be used to make sure out-of-state or underage players stay out of the system. When the site will go active for real money is a problematic question, however. While many residents of the Golden State took part in the site's "free play" poker that went on over the weekend, the Monday start date came and went without the switch being thrown on the cash aspect of the site; as of Wednesday, free play is still the only action being offered. Advertisements have been appearing for the site, though, with one prominent banner ad being found on The Hockey News' website. When the Iipay Nation activates PrivateTable.com, it could start several actions on both the California front and with the Federal Government. We'll keep you posted on the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. One of the bills that many hoped would legalize online poker in California has been shelved, making it doubtful that there will be any movement by the state legislature on the issue this year. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- The bill's author, State Senator Lou Correa (pictured), concluded that due to continual disagreements between the Golden State's gambling interests, there wouldn't be enough time to make sufficient revisions to the legislation and take a vote before the end of this year's legislative session. "Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it's done right," he told the LA Times. Many see the move as a major setback for the push to legalize Internet poker in California, as Correa's bill had been debated for five years in the state legislature. But with Indian casinos, horseracing operators, brick-and-mortar card clubs, and online poker companies all fighting for the best possible terms, a consensus has been hard to come by. In June, 13 of the state's Indian tribes announced that they had reached a compromise on language for a potential bill. "In achieving consensus for Internet poker, we reaffirm our commitment to the longstanding principle of limited gaming that has guided California's public policy toward gaming," they said in a letter to Correa. But the legislation on which they had settled is unacceptable to sites like PokerStarssince it would include language to bar companies who continued to operate in the state after the UIGEA was passed via "bad actor" clauses. The online poker behemoth has its own allies in California and has formed a coalition with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three of the state's biggest card clubs. PokerStars continues to claim that the fight to keep its brand out of the Golden State is simply a move by competitors to stifle competition. "Efforts by a select few interests to rewrite longstanding and effective policy in order to gain a competitive market advantage or to lock out specific companies is not in the best interests of consumers or the state and will be vigorously opposed by our coalition, online poker players, and many others," said the group in a statement. Gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose was doubtful that Internet poker would be legalized in California this year due to disagreements among tribes, along with the simple fact that it is an election year. "The politics of this aren't right for this to get rushed through by the end of this year," he said. "The state is so large and there are so many tribes and they don't agree on anything." Following Correa's announcement on Wednesday, a coalition of tribes released a statement recognizing the need to proceed slowly and deliberately with any proposed legislation. "Instilling public confidence in the integrity of state-sanctioned Internet poker is a fundamental principle of ours," they said. "To that end and in consultation with the bill's authors, our tribal leaders have concluded that rushing a bill in the closing days of this legislative session will not allow for the level of careful public examination and confidence an issue of this magnitude requires." While efforts to regulate online poker have seemingly stalled, Rose believes that the industry will eventually be legalized in the state. Correa, though, will not have a chance to modify his draft due to term limitations. Another online poker bill, introduced by Reginald Jones-Sawyer Sr., is also pending in the legislature, but has not moved through committee and seems to have little traction. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. In recent days, PocketFives brought you an article about the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Indians in California launching real money online poker games on PrivateTable.com. The rationale: a loophole in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that could allow legal online poker. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- One of the potential downsides of launching a site prior to structured online poker and internet gambling regulations in California is that the Iipay Nation could be subject to a "bad actor" clause. In California, that clause, in legislation that's currently circulating, extends to items like software and player lists, even if those items change ownership. PocketFives reached out to the Iipay Nation and received a prompt response from Santa Ysabel Interactive President David Chelette, who told us in an exclusive statement, "We do not feel that our Interactive poker website violates any current state of Federal laws. We would not knowingly violate any laws. We believe that our activity is legal and that any subsequent 'bad actor' clause that may be contained within enacted state legislation in California would not apply to the Tribe or its current online poker enterprise." Chelette added, "That being said, we are hoping to have an opportunity to influence the final draft of the proposed legislation to allow Santa Ysabel and other small- to mid-level gaming Tribes to participate within a state-licensed online gaming structure." According to our original article on PrivateTable's launch, the site is expected to allow players over the age of 18 and will be confined to customers physically located in California. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission will host the site. You'll remember that the KGC licensed Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker and renewed Full Tilt Poker's secondary license after its primary license was suspended due to the company being insolvent. KGC currently licenses Bovada, Winner Poker, and Intertops, among others. California is one of the few states seriously considering legalizing and regulating online poker. However, a tangled web of card rooms, Indian Tribes, full-scale casinos, and racetracks have made the process of crafting legislation extremely challenging. For example, a Tribal alliance has offered an online poker billand PokerStars has entered into a partnership with three card clubs and the Morongo Tribe. According to Online Poker Report's Chris Grove, "It's certainly possible that the launch of the Santa Ysabel room could nudge what appears to be a slightly stalled process forward, if only ever so slightly. The more successful the launch, the greater the pressure. The launch could also trigger a legal challenge that might bring some clarity to the current ambiguity surrounding Tribal online poker." The California legislative calendar for 2014 runs through the end of August, so we'll likely have a conclusion soon. We'll keep you posted on the latest. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  11. It is the dream of every tournament grinder to play on the "big stage" that is the World Series of Poker Main Event. For the 2014 WSOP Main Event, that mantle was being carried by Los Angeles' Michael Kamran. Kamran entered Day Six of the 2014 WSOP Main Event in 34th position, roughly the middle of the field, with a 2.6 million chip stack that he meticulously built. Kamran earned his first tournament cash in 2007 at the LA Poker Classic and continued throughout that year to hit the smaller tournaments at such locations as the Venetian in Las Vegas and another LA card room, the Bicycle Casino. 2007 would also see Kamran make his first score on the WSOP stage, finishing deep in a $2,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament. As his skills grew on the felt, Kamran would make his ascension up the tournament ladder to larger events. 2008 would see Kamran earn two more cashes at the WSOP before making his biggest tournament score of his career. At the 2008 Caesars Palace Classic's $10,000 Main Event, Kamran would finish as runner-up to Hevad Khan for a $520,320 payday. Since then, Kamran has earned 11 more cashes at the WSOP and three on the World Poker Tour schedule. Although leading up to the 2014 WSOP Main Event he didn't have an official cash since the 2013 WSOP, Kamran has been able to rack up $1.36 million in career earnings from tournament poker. According to WSOP.com, Kamran was born in Iran and, at the time of the 2014 WSOP, had $210,000 in career WSOP earnings. He ultimately finished in 40th place in the 2014 WSOP Main Event for $186,000 after his K-2 of hearts could not draw out on A-K of diamonds. He missed two draws to a flush to hit the rail.
  12. "Shawn" Martirosian from Woodland Hills, California headed into Day 6 of the 2014 World Series Main Event tied for 20th place out of the 79 remaining players with a 3,565,000-chip stack. He finished the Main Event in 38th place for $186,000. Until the 2014 Main Event, Martirosian was not well known outside of California, with all of his $376,000 of live poker tournament winnings occurring within his home state. Martirosian's biggest live cash prior to the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event came in February 2012 when he took 18th place in the $10,000 buy-in WPT LA Poker Classic for almost $40,000. His next two biggest cashes were also in WPT events, a $36,000 haul in March 2014 for finishing in 27th place in the same event and a $34,000 haul for finishing in ninth place in the 2013 WPT Legends of Poker Main Event. One of the key hands for Martirosian in the 2014 WSOP Main Event occurred near the end of Day 5 with the blinds at 20,000/40,000. The action started with Martirosian raising to 90,000 in chips in early position and getting called by Oscar Kempssitting to the right of him, Ali Eslamion the button, and Yorane Kerignard from the small blind. Kerignard tried to steal the pot when he bet 185,000 on a flop of Qd-Qs-7c. Martirosian was holding Ah-Qh and raised the action to 450,000. Eslami called from the button with Qc-9c, setting up a big action hand, while Kerignard folded, leaving the action to be heads-up on the turn. Martirosian shoved his remaining 1 million chips on the turn of 2s, which sent Eslami thinking. After a few minutes, Eslami called for his tournament life and saw he was drawing three outs for the win or six outs for a tie. Eslami was sent to the rail when his hand did not improve when the 5c appeared on the river, while Martirosian watched his stack more than double to 3.5 million.
  13. Late last week, PocketFives brought you an article about the bills regulating online poker in California being shelved for 2014. The reason, according to bill author and State Senator Lou Correa: "Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it's done right." --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- California features a variety of competing interests, including Indian Tribes, casinos, card rooms, and race tracks. Add to the mix sites like PokerStars that are seeking a footprint in what has been dubbed the "Holy Grail" of US online poker markets and you can see why the state, which has nearly 40 million residents, has struggled to obtain consensus. Last April, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians entered an agreement with PokerStars and three of the largest card rooms in the state – the Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens – to offer online poker should legislation pass. According to CardPlayer, Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Robert Martinsaid of the effort to approve online poker being paused for 2014, "Clearly the issues surrounding the latest bills that sought to unconstitutionally limit competition, place prohibitions on race tracks, and rewrite longstanding, successful state policy regarding California's oversight of gaming proved insurmountable for this session." Martin added, however, that the Morongo Tribe and its partners don't plan to throw in the towel for next year: "We will continue to work with our partners, legislators, state regulators, and other California tribes on developing future i-poker legislation that meets constitutional tests and provides much-needed consumer protections to California's two million online poker players." Attorney Keith Sharp shared the following sentiments of the three aforementioned card clubs: "Any legislation authorizing internet poker should ensure that we create the most successful market possible that provides consumers access to the trusted brands they want in a strongly regulated environment… We remain committed to continued discussions in the interim and next session." Also commenting on the postponement of legislation in California was the Poker Players Alliance, whose Executive Director, John Pappas (pictured), told PocketFives on Monday, "I think there is a new dance taking root in California. The internet poker shuffle is easy: one step forward, then two steps back. It is frustrating that for another year the California poker player is left out to dry as the hyper-competitive gaming industry elbows its way to another stalemate. I remain optimistic that California will be a frontier for online poker, but it looks like we have several more months until that can happen." California's current legislative session comes to a close at the end of August. In June, a coalition of 13 California Indian Tribes proposed legislationto regulate online poker that included a "bad actor" clause shutting out any company that serviced the state's residents for real money post-December 2006. The language would affect sites like PokerStars, which didn't vacate the US market until Black Friday in April 2011. Language in bills would have also expanded the "bad actor" clause to include software and player lists. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  14. American poker player Peter Placey began Day 6 of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event with 3,415,000 in chips, which placed him in the top third of the field in 24th place with 79 players remaining. He bowed out of the Main Event in 35th place for $230,000. Placey is from Newport Beach, California and it had been over six years since he had recorded a live poker tournament cash going into the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. Placey had moderate success, with almost $96,000 in live tournaments from 2004 to 2008. According to the Global Poker Index, Placey's first recorded live poker cash occurred in August 2004 when he took fifth place in the $1,060 buy-in World Poker Tour Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for over $6,000. Placey's next cash came in an event that 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Jamie Gold won when Placey finished in 17th place in a $225 Rebuy at the Bicycle Casino for over $1,000 in August 2005. While the buy-in of this event was relatively small, the tournament was a sign of things to come, as Gold pocketed over $54,000 for winning and Placey finished in 144th place in the 2006 WSOP Main Event for about $47,000. Later in August 2005, Placey finished in 17th place for almost $3,000 in a $1,580 No Limit Hold'em tournament, also at the Bike, for almost $3,000. He followed this up in February 2006 by finishing in sixth place for over $10,000 in a $2,590 buy-in No Limit Hold'em event during the LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino. Placey once again had a deep run in a LA Poker Classic event in 2008 when he finished in sixth place in the $2,590 buy-in No Limit Hold'em event for over $28,000. Image courtesy Hendon Mob
  15. Earlier this month, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced AB 9, otherwise known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015. The bill is similar to legislation filed last year, but contains a critical amendment that was seemingly written to block Amayafrom launching PokerStars in the state. In an interview with OnlinePokerReport, Gatto (pictured) revealed plans to sit down with the online gambling giant and its allies to hear their opinions on his proposed legislation. "Today we have scheduled meetings with the Amaya coalition," he said. "I expect before the end of December to discuss their vision for a bill. We definitely will be meeting with anybody who wants a meeting on this." Like some online poker bills before it, Gatto's legislation contains bad actor language that would prohibit companies from being licensed that continued to operate after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed. AB 9, however, takes things one step further by excluding companies that bought the assets of questionable operators. The stipulation is a clear shot at Amaya Gaming, which purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion in June and is lobbying hard to launch the site in the US. PokerStars was quick to respond to the bill, calling it a "rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals." It added that "any bill that seeks to establish artificial competitive advantages for some, while denying Californians the best online poker experiences, will only serve to divide the community and will be opposed by our coalition." Gatto defended his decision to include the clause and referenced a conversation he had with an attorney experienced in gambling law. "He thought this was not that aggressive, that it was a step toward liberalizing the language compared to bill proposals in the past," Gatto said. But even with the tough bad actor clause, AB 9 could still offer PokerStars a way into California. The bill later states, somewhat confusingly, that the bad actor language affecting companies like Amaya could be waived if the purchased assets do "not adversely affect the integrity of, or undermine public confidence in, intrastate internet poker or otherwise pose a threat to the public interest." Gatto made it clear that AB 9 is still a work in progress and should be treated as a first draft. "I am under no delusions… that my bill is a final product," he said. "This is an opening statement, it's a discussion point, it's putting some language across the desk, but procedurally this will go through a very, very thorough public hearing process." Apart from bad actor language, the bill contains other elements that have been criticized by organizations like the Poker Players Alliance. PPA Vice President Rich TheEngineerMuny (pictured) found it odd that the bill would force players to make their first deposit at a land-based casino. Putting that burden on poker players, he said, "defeats the purpose" of offering online poker in the first place. With over six years of failed attempts to legalize iPoker in the Golden State, Gatto understands the challenge he faces in rallying the state's gambling interests around his bill. "It's going to be a long year, but this is something that I think would be a lost opportunity if we didn't come to the table and try to work it out," he said. "So that's what we're going to try to do and there is a 50-50 shot we fail spectacularly once again." Gatto's bill could be one of several introduced the session, as earlier in the year, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer also promised to work with the state's industry players to craft a passable bill. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  16. On Friday, PocketFives had the opportunity to sit down with Pala Interactive CEO Jim Ryan (pictured), who formerly held the same position at Excapsa and bwin.party. Ryan's newest venture has made inroads into the regulated New Jersey gaming market via an online casino and comes with a unique perspective on the future of our industry. PocketFives: Thank you for joining us. Talk about your expectations for the new i-gaming credit card code, which would in theory make it easier for customers to deposit onto regulated sites. Jim Ryan: I am excited about it. The new merchant category codes are coming out on April 17. What's unique is that the credit card companies have come out with three new codes: one for online lotteries, one for licensed online casino operators, and one for Advanced Deposit Wagering. The problem we have today is that banks aren't coding transactions because they can't differentiate between regulated and non-regulated operators. With these new merchant category codes coming out, they can differentiate them. That's cause to be excited. The key to this is that it'll only work if Visa and MasterCard educate financial institutions. They have to understand why it exists and what it does. On April 17, this won't be a silver bullet for the sector. I think it'll represent a 20% to 30% improvement in depositing, though. For every $1 we successfully deposit right now, we have $2 rejected. Literally, we have a 33% success rate. I appreciate that consumers are trying over and over to deposit, but anything a merchant can do to improve that rate and that process will be good. PocketFives: What do you see as the future of payments in regulated markets? Jim Ryan: In the absence of the new merchant category codes, in existing or any future regulated markets, we need a traditional e-wallet. Neteller now isn't the Neteller of the pre-UIGEA days. It has a lot of the same features, but PayPal is the holy grail of e-wallets. I believe PayPal is coming and will be very good for the marketplace. There has also been an evolution of a few creative solutions like PayNearMe, a prepaid card you can pick up at 7-11. It has been very successful in New Jersey. Mazuma is a bank-to-bank transfer solution, but you don't have to give merchants your bank account information directly. You'll see the evolution of more of the prepaid and bank-to-bank solutions. PocketFives: What is your outlook on regulated i-gaming in California? Jim Ryan: Boy did we come close last year. We had a unified bill drafted. We had 13 of California's most significant tribes ready to do it, but we ran out of time. We needed to nail down the racetrack issue. I started this legislative session being optimistic, although I would give it low odds of a bill passing in 2015, but that's subject to change. The stakeholders in California need to reconcile their positions. A lot of people want this to happen. Some of the key issues are whether racetracks should be included and what you should do with tainted assets. All of the stakeholders need to get on this before the Federal Government addresses the Wire Act. We are very mindful of a Republican-controlled Congress amending the Wire Act and effectively eliminating the prospects of regulated online poker in California for the foreseeable future. PocketFives: Speaking of the Wire Act, talk about Sheldon Adelson (pictured) and his anti-internet gambling movement. Jim Ryan: It's a most interesting time in that we have a Republican-controlled Congress and a well-financed political effort to amend the Wire Act. This is the most significant threat we've had post-Black Friday. There has been nothing but positive momentum recently. We have seen Federal efforts that looked like they had good chances, we had three states embrace it, and we had states like Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Washington, Mississippi, and Ohio looking into it. There are 10 or 11 states that have considered some form of online gaming legislation. Now, we have a well-financed effort in a Republican-controlled Congress. I think Adelson's legislation has a good shot of passing. If they are successful in amending the Wire Act, the very things they seek to prevent, they'll provide a catalyst to happen. They're worried about underage gambling and terrorism. Why push it into the black market as opposed to regulating it? I would love to get involved in the debate when that point is discussed. The poker community has done a great job of saying this is wrong. This doesn't make sense. For example, I spent six years in Europe and that market has slowly embraced regulated gaming and anarchy hasn't broken out. We know who's funding every account and where the money is going to and coming from. PocketFives: Earlier this week, PPA Executive Director John Pappas disputed the notion that terrorists are using internet gambling sites to funnel money, saying that isn't happening. Do you agree with Pappas (pictured)? Jim Ryan: I would agree. I've never seen any credible evidence. We've seen some bad actors, but the solution is to regulate the market. The US is still a multi-billion dollar unregulated online gaming market. Adelson has a fundamental concern that underage players are playing, but New Jersey hasn't had a reported case of underage gambling in its first year. You can't get significant dollars in and out of the system like a terrorist would need to do. In a regulated environment, all of these abnormalities would be vetted out. PocketFives: How did you end up with Pala Interactive? Jim Pala: The announcement came out a couple years ago. I got a call from Pala inviting me to their resort to look at their online gaming strategy. I had just left bwin.party and was in Toronto during what was probably the coldest winter I can remember and took a trip to California and sat down with Pala's management. They walked me through their strategies and it was impressive. They were developing their own back-office platform and believed a successful operator had to control their own software. They were also well-capitalized. All of that was compelling and I asked why they were just focusing on California. I said they should focus on the entire US market and they agreed. I became CEO in 2013 and we started off with New Jersey. We are trying to take a realistic approach there. It's all about getting your business live and fine-tuning it. You can't do that without operating for real. We're building a very decent online gaming business and we won't be active in every state that opens up. Nevada is an interesting state, for example, but it's poker-only and its liquidity base isn't big enough, so we won't go there. Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California – those are our near-term prospects. PocketFives: In the past, you've headed up Excapsa and bwin.party. What made Pala alluring? Jim Ryan: bwin.party had 4,200 employees. Excapsa had about 220 employees. Pala has 40 staff members today. What I found intoxicating was that it was an opportunity to build our own product, make our own statement, and have our own platform. The ability to re-architect the platform and have it operate on a modern, more efficient technical base is important. I'm thoroughly enjoying it and focusing on the US regulated market. We don't have to worry about whether a country is going to make our business illegal; we're staying out of any grey areas. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  17. A second bill regulating online poker has been introduced in California, according to CardPlayer and other sites. The bill is the brainchild of Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyerand is called the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015. The bill apparently has the support of PokerStarsand players must be located in California in order to hop online. The contingent that includes PokerStars and three major land-based casinos in the state said of it, "[W]e are encouraged that his approach will move the discussion of online poker forward in a positive direction." Those sentiments are in stark contrast to language from the group lambasting a bill brought forward by State Senator Mike Gatto. According to Pokerfuse, Mark Macarro, Tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Tribe, frowned on the bill, saying, "We are disappointed that the bill disregards important principles from a broad coalition of respected tribes and card rooms that help prevent corporations and entities that previously violated federal law from profiting from tainted software, brands, and databases derived from illegal activity." Macarro is alluding to PokerStars in his statement, as the bill is "softer" on bad actor language than Gatto's bill, according to CardPlayer. A one-time deposit of $10 million is required to apply for a license and operators must pay 8.5% of their gross gaming revenue to the state. As outlined by the same poker news site, the bill would accommodate horse tracks in an abrupt change from past policy: "AB 167 would also allow for the inclusion of the state horse racing industryin the yet-to-be-formed online poker market. Historically, gaming interests in the state have been opposed to dividing the online poker pie further by including the horse racing industry." The new bill criminalizes players who play on unregulated sites. The other major online poker bill in California is one proposed by Gatto, who recently announced that he'd be amending his bill to eliminate language mandating that players had to sign up and deposit at a brick-and-mortar casino. Gatto's bill contains a "bad actor" clause that would seemingly not allow sites like PokerStars to participate. Like in Jones-Sawyer's bill, players who play on unauthorized sites would face penalties in Gatto's measure. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  18. The state of Californiais considering a new bill that would allow its citizens to participate in a state-regulated online poker market. Introduced earlier this week by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D - Los Angeles, pictured), the bill, known by AB 9 or "The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015," has been marked at this point with an "urgency" status, which means that if two-thirds of the California Assembly and the Senate vote in favor of it, it would immediately go into law without having to go to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. In an interview with Matthew Kredell of PokerNews, Gatto stated that he believes his bill is the one that can get through the logjam in the halls of Sacramento. "I think we have a proposal that can unite all the various groups that were not previously united," Gatto stated. "We have a lot of the same language from last year, but what I think makes our bill special is a regimen for weeding out money laundering, guaranteeing foot traffic to casinos, and expanding the number of parties who will be able to participate in the marketplace." Gatto's bill is very similar to what was introduced earlier this year by another member of the State Assembly. Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D - Los Angeles), who has been a longtime advocate of online poker in California, previously introduced legislation in the governing body, but has yet to have success getting it to a vote. Jones-Sawyer was expected to put through another online poker bill this month also, but it is unknown whether he will drop his efforts and back Gatto's bill or continue with his version of legislation. AB 9 looks to be very similar to a proposed draft of a bill that 13 of California's Indian tribes supported this summer. The bill still has a "bad actor" clause in it, stating that a license should not be granted to "entities and persons who knowingly engaged in unlawful internet gaming after December 31, 2006." The bill adds that a company that "[knowingly] purchased or otherwise acquired data for use in connection with internet poker in the state bears directly on the applicant's suitability and must be considered in any determination whether to license that applicant." AB 9 goes on to say that any "person or entity" that "has purchased or acquired the covered assets of any entity [previously described]" would be denied licensing. This means that the 800-pound gorilla in the room, PokerStars, would likely not only be prohibited from participating in a California market, but its new owner, Amaya Gaming, would also not be allowed to use the PokerStars software, its mailing lists, or other associated assets. Details of AB 9 show that licensing for California online poker sites would be for 10 years and require a one-time fee of $5 million and undetermined yearly fees and taxes. Playing on "unauthorized" sites would be criminalized under AB 9 and deposits would have to be made at a physical location, either a card room or an Indian tribe's casino that is offering online poker, rather than through an online transaction. Revenues generated by the regulated California online poker industry would go into a special fund, the "Internet Poker Fund," which would be handed out to problem gambling organizations and other unspecified measures. Kept out of the legislation is any language regarding the California horse racing industry, which desperately wants to get into the game, but Gatto isn't looking to shut them out. In the PokerNews interview, Gatto told Kredell that he is "open" to changes in AB 9. "I've always been a fair legislator," he said, "and we will work with a lot of different participants. This is an opportunity for everybody to make lots of money." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  19. According to a press release, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (pictured) will be making tweaks to his proposed intrastate online poker bill (AB 9), removing language that required players to register at a brick-and-mortar casino. Gatto commented, "My goal remains creating a sensible framework for a new California industry. That will involve a thoughtful process of consultation with all of the key stakeholders. I pride myself in listening; I expect this process will continue throughout the year." The Golden State lawmaker said of allowing online sign-ups rather than forcing would-be players to schlep to a brick-and-mortar casino, "After meeting with security experts and hearing from poker players and industry professionals, I have concluded that online poker would be best served by making in-person registration an option rather than a requirement. State-of-the-art technology currently used by operators in other states when registering players accesses many of the same databases used by financial institutions to verify the identity of registrants and prevent fraud." The bill could also impose harsher punishments on non-regulated operators, although that language has not yet been added. The press release noted, "Gatto is considering raising the sanctions against the operators of unauthorized online poker operators, making it a felony for those who illegally offer real-money games to players in California and offering additional resources to the Attorney General to enforce the new regime." AB 9 was unveiled in Decemberand continues to include a "bad actor" clause saying that a license will not be granted to "entities and persons who knowingly engaged in unlawful internet gaming after December 31, 2006." In that group would be sites like PokerStarsand Full Tilt, which did not bail from the US market until Black Friday in 2011. However, whether those sites were engaging in "unlawful" activity remains to be seen. Gatto closed his press release by highlighting the importance of listening to others while AB 9 and other bills are being developed: "These amendments are derived from time-tested business practices that have received significant support from stakeholders. Lawmakers should listen to feedback from experts as they seek to form sound public policy." Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  20. On Wednesday, PocketFives published an article about California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introducing AB 9, dubbed the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act. As several members of PocketFives pointed out, the intrastate online poker bill has some serious issues, as it requires deposits at brick-and-mortar casinos, criminalizes players who play on non-regulated sites, and shuts out companies like Amaya via a bad actor clause. To get his take on the bill, PocketFives sat down with Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), whose organization is the primary voice for poker players on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the United States. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. PocketFives: Thank you for joining us. What's your reaction to the bill requiring deposits at brick-and-mortar casinos as opposed to online? John Pappas: It defeats the purpose of online poker, to be able to deposit from your computer. I think it's someone's misguided understanding on how to establish synergies between brick-and-mortar casinos and online players. There are other ways to bring people to your properties. I don't know if this is a good solution for smaller Indian Tribes either. The smaller tribes are typically remote, so requiring people to go to those casinos to sign up is defeating yourself before you get off the ground. What you want to do is get people playing online and then get them to the casino. Certainly the most diehard enthusiasts will sign up in person, but there are hundreds of thousands that wouldn't bother to. PocketFives: Could this requirement have to do with wanting to have a face-to-face interaction with depositors? John Pappas: If that's a concern, we need to do a better job explaining to lawmakers and Indian Tribes that depositing and withdrawing online can be done in a secure environment. It's being done in many forms of e-commerce where payments are being made safely and securely. PocketFives: What are your thoughts on the language in AB 9 that criminalizes players for playing on non-regulated sites? John Pappas: We've strongly been opposed to that kind of language. I think it's a way to deter people from playing on unlicensed sites, but that language is unnecessary because if you have a good market of licensed companies, players won't go to the unlicensed sites. PocketFives: How would regulators know players are firing up non-regulated sites? John Pappas: It would raise privacy concerns on how they'd enforce that. They have the same issue in Washington State, where it's illegal to place a wager online but we know people are still playing. It's a very unenforceable law and unfairly targets players rather than doing what the law should do, which is enforce against offshore operators. PocketFives: This bill also shuts out the horse racing industry and companies like Amaya. John Pappas. We've always felt they should open it up to all possible participants and it shouldn't be limited to just card rooms and tribes. The more applicants, the greater the potential for a better product. The bill also specifically excludes Amaya and we think that's unwise and unfair. PocketFives: We take it the PPA is not in favor of this bill as written? John Pappas: Taking a position on this bill at this time isn't necessary. I don't think anyone is taking ownership of the bill except for the lawmaker himself. I think it's good to see others are taking an interest in the issue, but this bill has too many flaws right now to support it. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  21. The Restoration of America's Wire Act has now been introduced in both the US Senateand House of Representatives, causing at least a little bit of concern in the poker world, but that does not mean that efforts to legalize online poker in individual states has stopped. Californiaheld another poker hearing last week, perhaps inching ever so slightly closer to creating a regulated internet poker market in the state. It is still a ways off and there are still several points of disagreement among stakeholders, but the hearings at least indicate that the process isn't moving backwards. One thing that motivates all parties, regardless of where they stand on the potential legislative details, is money. And California being the country's most populous state, there is likely to be a lot of it up for grabs if online poker becomes legalized. In its most recent Weekly Scouting Report, the online poker cash game traffic monitoring site PokerScout.com discussed various estimates for the Golden State's first year of poker revenue, whenever that might be. Most of the estimates fit into a fairly tight range. Eilers Research, Online Poker Report, Gambling Compliance, and PokerScout's findings with the consulting firm Academicon all estimate total first year internet poker revenue to be in the $215 million to $222 million range. Two estimates came in well under $200 million: one based on a model of New Jersey's online poker revenue and one based on a model of Nevada's. The New Jersey model's estimate was around $130 million and Nevada's was just over $100 million. PokerScout says these are so much lower than the others because they do not take into account the effects such a huge market like California would have on revenue generation. It is not a simple linear relationship. You can't just say, "California has almost 4.5 times more residents than New Jersey, so its poker revenue will be 4.5 times greater." And as PokerScout states that the New Jersey model, for example, is based on "annual run rates" of $29 million; the $130 million estimate for California is right at 4.5 times that rate. The problem with this method is that, as PokerScout eloquently says, "liquidity begets greater liquidity." That is, poker rooms with more players at the tables look more attractive to potential customers, thus encouraging those on the fence to sign up. As a result, the big poker rooms (or, in this case, the state with the most poker players) continue to grow because of their size, whereas smaller rooms (or states) have more trouble with growth because people don't want to jump in when the tables aren't as active. Additionally, a larger market like California can support better promotions and more game types, further increasing liquidity. PokerScout also says that before Black Friday, Californians raked 16% more than the average US player. One estimate in PokerScout's report was much higher than the rest: the one from the investment bank Morgan Stanley. The financial institution put California's Year 1 online poker revenue at more than $400 million, dwarfing the other estimates. It appears, though, that this may be an outdated figure, as Morgan Stanley published a new report in September 2014 in which it slashes its online poker estimate for California from $435 million (which might be the figure PokerScout is reporting) to $260 million. Morgan Stanley admitted that one mistake it made in its earlier estimate was that it "likely underestimated the importance of sports betting in international markets," implying that it had based some of its projection on numbers from other countries, not realizing how significantly sports betting factoring into the global figures. Thus, poker was less of a factor than Morgan Stanley realized, resulting in the firm lowering its estimates for poker in America. Additionally, Morgan Stanley overestimated New Jersey's market, so it needed to adjust its model for California to not be as optimistic as it once was. PokerScout's Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting support@pokerscout.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  22. Earlier in the year, expectations were high that Californialawmakers would make online poker a reality in 2015. But, with the Golden State's gambling stakeholders at an impasse over a few key issues, analysts now believe that the prospect is slipping away. A letter recently sent to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer by a powerful coalition of tribes does nothing to suggest these factions will find a compromise anytime soon. Six tribes signed on to the letter, which was written in response to Jones-Sawyer's internet poker legislation, AB 167, introduced earlier this year. The bill would legalize the industry for those inside the state and does not include any bad actor language that would preclude PokerStars from becoming licensed. AB 167 would also allow horseracing tracks to enter the market with their own online poker offering. The issue of the horse tracks and "bad actor" language are major points of contention among the state's gambling interests and are directly opposed in the tribes' letter. "While AB 167 is intended to legalize internet poker throughout California, it does so by expanding poker to horseracing facilities at the expense of tribal nations that have a demonstrated history of responsible gaming," the letter said. The tribes also note that California residents have voted on several occasions "in support of tribal government gaming and have given overwhelming approval to a constitutional amendment granting Indian tribal governments an exclusive authority over Las Vegas-style gaming." However, the majority of the letter's text is reserved for the coalition's steadfast belief that any Golden State online poker bill should include a "bad actor" clause. "It is crucial that any internet poker bill protect [the public] interest in order to instill public trust and confidence in the integrity, fairness, and legitimacy of state sanctioned internet poker," the letter continued. Many believe that proponents of the "bad actor" clause are simply trying to restrict the competition that a well-known site like PokerStars would bring. AB 9, an internet poker bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (pictured) late last year, includes such language and has been called a rehash of unsuccessful legislation by PokerStars and its supporters. In the letter, the coalition cites the fact that some tribes have switched sides and joined PokerStars, thus reversing their view on "bad actor" language. "It bears emphasis that the tribes working with you on AB 167 were all formally and publicly in favor of the inclusion of a bad actor clause in internet poker legislation until they entered into a business relationship with one of those presumed violators and its successor corporation," it said. Aside from Gatto and Jones-Sawyer's offerings, there are two more i-poker bills currently circulating in the state legislature. The parallel bills, introduced by State Senator Isidore Halland Assemblyman Adam Gray, contain vague language that will likely be amended later to reflect any compromise on which industry stakeholders can agree. But with both sides entrenched in their positions, online poker in California may have to wait. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  23. Last week, the first ever American Poker Conference preceding the American Poker Awards took place in Los Angeles. A four-panel agenda featuring some of the brightest and most visible minds in the industry led to a few takeaways, which I wanted to share. Live Streams Are Mandatory If you're running a live event, a live stream isn't optional. As DeepStacks Poker Tour's Chris Torina put it, "A poker room should never run an event without social media and a live stream." A live stream results in players and viewers marketing the event for you. Free marketing ftw! Similarly, having commentators who can relate to the audience is critical. As Twitch streamer extraordinaire Jason Somerville put it, when "poker coaches" commentate on live streams, what results is complex analysis that's not relatable to the masses. Read more about dumbing down poker television and live streams. Somerville is an absolute master at relating to the general public. Integrate Live and Online If you don't already know, the World Series of Poker is holding an online bracelet event this year. Across the Atlantic, Dusk Till Dawn has partnered with PartyPoker for an 18-starting day tournament taking place both live and online. These two examples illustrate how you can successfully integrate online poker with land-based casinos. As bracelet winner and longtime PocketFiver Jon Friedberg (pictured) put it during one panel, "Ultimate Poker is an example of what happens when you don't utilize your land-based customer base." The site failed in not one, but two states despite being connected to UFC and Station Casinos. Moreover, integrating live and online poker will bring in new blood, similar to the boom of a decade ago. As conference organizer Alex Dreyfus summarized, "The best tool to acquire new players at a live casino is online poker." Be Careful What You Wish For We've all been clamoring for regulated online poker in the US. And while that's already occurred in three states, regulators have slowed the process of development and promotion rather dramatically. As illustrated by Jeffrey Haas of bwin.party, "overly strict" regulations in New Jersey have made the process of rolling out software updates and bug fixes exceedingly difficult. Giving players what they want can take months due to needing regulatory approval. Haas said New Jersey regulators "care about everything," which is "fantastic for consumer protection," but suffocates software development time. Neil Johnson of the European Poker Tour explained that creating a multi-country tour, which would be similar to creating a multi-state tour in the US, was anything but simple: "You have to work with each regulator to explain live and online poker." So, while we're all pulling for regulated online poker, we should be wary of over-regulation. Stop the Rebuys The final panel of the day in LA featured four high-profile players discussing their vision for the future of tournament poker. One of the main topics discussed was the impact of rebuys, with Somerville saying that the more rebuys a player is allowed, the more the event favors pros. The consensus overall was that being able to buy in once per day, as opposed to unlimited times per day, was optimal. At one point, Daniel Negreanu (pictured) reminded the audience that he once bought in 50 times to a $1,000 rebuy at the WSOP, illustrating the advantage he has due to his deep pockets. Multi-entry tournaments, similarly, have become commonplace. Regarding quantum reloads, Mohsin Charania, who was on the same panel, explained that the reaction by players to Quantum Reloads was "mixed." He added, "For an amateur player it's not advantageous." California Could Take a While Finally, I wanted to discuss California, the holy grail of online poker markets in the US. When asked for the year in which we'd see the first hand of regulated online poker dealt in California, the responses by panelists were 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2022. By the time a bill is passed, sites are created, and regulatory hurdles are overcome, it could be many years before we're discussing regulated California online poker. Therefore, don't hold your breath. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  24. California lawmakers and a limited number of Golden State gambling stakeholders met Wednesday in the California Senate and Assembly Governmental Organization Committees for a Joint Informational Hearing on the gaming industry. Internet gambling, however, was not the main topic on the agenda and was hardly discussed. Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. After years of watching online gambling bills come and go without so much as a vote, the state's gambling interests might well be on the verge of another impasse over the terms of such legislation. The two main sticking points include whether to block so-called "bad actors" and whether to allow horseracing tracks to operate their own card rooms. While a powerful band of Indian tribes has signaled that a compromise might be reached on the issue of "bad actors," it remains staunchly opposed to allowing the tracks to participate in the industry. At the hearing, Executive Director of the California Horseracing Board Rick Baedekermade his argument as to why tracks should be included. He highlighted that while the horseracing industry had a virtual monopoly on gambling for over 40 years, more modern forms of gaming have precipitated a 45% drop in revenue and caused several tracks to close their doors. He continued by noting that, unlike the state's tribal casinos, horseracing operators already have years of experience in safely and successfully taking bets online. For its part, the opposition has suggested that the industry receive a subsidy from licensed online poker sites, but track operators view this as unacceptable. "Given its long history in the state, deep roots in the California greenbelt, and 13 years of legal online wagering, racing should receive every consideration to participate in internet poker if it becomes a reality here in California," Baedeker said. Apart from the subject of the tracks, there was little mention of internet poker. In fact, Senate GO Chairman Isadore Hall, who recently introduced an iPoker "shell bill," didn't even show up to the hearing. Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, who has introduced his own bill, however, was in attendance and occasionally peppered the proceedings with mentions of online gambling. Paula LaBrie, a representative from the California State Lottery, indicated that her organization was conducting research on how internet poker would affect state revenue. She believes that the iPoker industry could attract a younger demographic than the average lottery player. "It's challenging because most of our people who play the lottery tend to be older," she said. "One of the challenges is to be able to adapt the lottery to what the world is right now." The online gambling discussion continues Thursday, with lawmakers, industry executives, and members of the press assembling for the Capital Weekly California Gaming Conference. Canadian poker pro Daniel Negreanu and Twitch superstar Jason Somerville (pictured) will be on hand to provide an online poker demonstration for attendees. The demo was set up by PokerStars, which has fought tooth and nail to participate in legal US online gambling industry. "The goal is to educate politicians and lawmakers on a topic that they clearly don't have a full, balanced grasp of," Negreanu told PokerNews. "I'm excited to educate key influencers about the benefits of a safe and regulated online poker arena," added Somerville. "I'm hoping to illustrate the logic and value behind passing robust online poker legislation in California." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  25. Don't break out the bubbly just yet, but Monday was a momentous day for United States online poker, as California's Assembly Governmental Organization Committee unanimously passed a pro-online poker bill, moving it to the floor of the full Assembly. The bill, AB 431, aims to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker in California. Not only did the bill pass out of the committee, but this was actually the first time that an internet poker bill had ever even been voted upon in a committee in the Golden State. Various state legislators and stakeholders have been trying to get online poker going in California for the better part of a decade, but have never gotten much further than bickering about who gets a piece of the pie. This also means that, even though there are still differences of opinion among stakeholders, some level of agreement has been reached. If the parties were still extremely far apart, AB 431 would likely not have passed through the GO Committee. AB 431, as it currently stands, is really just a shell bill. As the Legislative Counsel's Digest reads: "This bill would authorize the operation of an internet poker website within the borders of the state. The bill would require the commission, in consultation with the department, to promulgate regulations for intrastate internet poker. The bill would require those regulations to include, but not be limited to, a licensing process for an individual or entity to become an operator of an internet poker website and rules for the operation of an internet poker website." As it says, the bill "would require the commission… to promulgate regulations for intrastate internet poker." Thus, the bill does not actually detail any of those regulations yet. All it does is say online poker would be legal in California and that regulations as to rules and licensing would need to be developed. There has been a great amount of disagreement, particularly among many Native American tribes, on two issues in particular: whether racetracksshould be eligible for online poker licensing and the inclusion of a "bad actor" clause. The latter has been an especially sticky point, as it targets PokerStars, a potentially formidable competitor to the state's current tribes and cardrooms. Some tribes and coalitions want PokerStars excluded, claiming the poker room was a "bad actor" in offering online poker to US residents after the UIGEA was passed in 2006, while others want the state's gambling commission to be able to evaluate every possible licensee. Though it does seem, with the passage of AB 431 through the GO Committee, that the opposing sides have come closer together, their differing points of views can be seen in statements that were released after the vote. One group, dubbed the Amaya Coalition, is composed of Amaya Gaming (the parent of PokerStars), the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and California's three largest card clubs: Commerce Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, and Bicycle Casino. In a statement issued to media outlets, the coalition said, in part, "Our coalition is committed to putting in the time necessary to establish a vibrant, competitive marketplace, one that provides superior consumer protections, requires strict oversight and regulation of operators and licensees, and ensures that the state receives a reasonable return." Contrast that to thePechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, which wants a "bad actor" clause in online poker regulation: "We look forward to a meaningful process and arriving at comprehensive legislation that respects California's longstanding public policy of limited gaming, protects children and the vulnerable, creates jobs, provides additional revenues for the State, and protects consumers and the integrity of the gaming industry from organizations that do not and have not respected US law." Visit PocketFives' California poker community for the latest news and discussion from California players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
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