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Found 21 results

  1. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on the impact of internet gambling. The scheduled two-and-a-half hour hearing, which was streamed online, featured a variety of witnesses and panels spanning the gamut of our industry. Among the topics discussed were policy and regulatory issues, social impacts, problem gambling, industry services, and relevant technology. Among those in attendance and serving as a witness on two panels was Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), who gave his thoughts on HB 1235, which would establish a regulatory framework for internet gaming in Pennsylvania. Pappas said in part during his testimony, "In order for Pennsylvania to remain competitive, and quite frankly relevant in gaming, the state must embrace internet opportunities. Now is the time for Pennsylvania to act." According to the PPA and a study from H2 Gambling Capital, a regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania could bring in $160 million in revenue in Year #1. For the entire internet gambling market, that number is $534 million. Pappas added, "Today, in the US and in regulated markets throughout the world, it is required that internet gaming companies consent to audits, implementation of anti-money laundering compliance programs and multi-step identity verification processes, bot detection, and other regulatory measures. These operators employ 'best of breed' technologies that protect minors and problem gamblers, ensure that the games are fair, and that sites block players in prohibited jurisdictions." Pappas told PocketFives following the hearing, "It was 100% positive. All of the testimony delivered, even those witnesses who were concerned about problem gambling and other societal issues, said a regulated market is better than unregulated conditions. I don't think it could have gone any better." Pennsylvania's neighbor to the East, New Jersey, is one of three states that have regulated internet gambling, along with nearby Delawareand the Mecca of gambling: Nevada. When could Pennsylvania green-light internet gambling? Could we see a regulated market emerge in 2014? And what needs to happen in order for regulated poker to become a reality? To that end, Pappas told us, "The impact of the hearing on the overall process has yet to be seen. It's one of the first times there has been a public discussion in Pennsylvania about these issues. It was important that we didn't get a lot of negative feedback from lawmakers who were there." "Pennsylvania is behind other states in terms of advancing bills," the PPA Executive Director explained to PocketFives. "There isn't a clear legislative vehicle to date. Next week, Pennsylvania officials are supposed to be releasing the results of an internet gambling impact study. From that, we will likely see things accelerate pretty quickly. It's likely there will be a Senate bill introduced shortly thereafter." The existing bill is in the House. Visit PocketFives' Pennsylvania poker community for the latest news and discussion from players in the Keystone State. We'll continue to keep you posted on the latest poker legislation news right here on PocketFives. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. We're four months into 2014, a year that has been a mixed bag on the legislative front. While a bill proposed by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) would lay the groundwork for regulated online poker in the US, bills from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would ban the game, including the legal markets in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. However, there has been little to no movement on any bill thus far. PocketFives sat down with Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured) to get caught up on the state of online poker in the US and talk about whether we should be avoiding the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas like the Plague this year. PocketFives: Thank you for joining us. Can you give us an update on the pro-internet gambling legislation in Congress from Representative Barton? John Pappas: We had a hearing about internet gambling last December, but there hasn't been much movement since then. Our position has been somewhat playing defense against the new Federal bills. We support, and will continue to support, Barton's legislation, but recognize that Congress getting something done this year is unlikely. We have been focusing on the states with the US Congress as divided as it has been. PocketFives: How about an update on the anti-internet gambling legislation from Representative Chaffetz and Senator Graham? John Pappas: I've spent a lot of time over the last two weeks speaking with just about every member of the House Judiciary Committee. It's an educational process for a lot of these members. There are a lot of new members since the early 2000s when these debates were originally happening. We're telling them there are a number of reasons why the Chaffetz bill is bad public policy. First, it's a states' rights issue. It's an issue of personal freedom. If we turn back the clock, we'd open the door to a black market without any accountability to players. PocketFives: Is there a hearing planned for any of the bills? John Pappas: I've been meeting with the Judiciary Committee staff about the prospects of a hearing and, as of right now, there's nothing scheduled. The committee has a lot on their plate, so I don't think this will be a priority for them, but I know there are major forces driving it. We're not going into meetings talking about compromise. We're talking about how the bill needs to be stopped in its tracks. PocketFives: Comment on the impact of the recent decision to remove campaign contribution limits. We know Sheldon Adelson (pictured) has pledged to spend "whatever it takes" to rid the US of internet gambling. John Pappas: That decision certainly benefits those who are able to make large financial contributions. I'd like to believe the voice of one person and the money of one person will not override the will of the American public. PocketFives: An online poker bill was introduced in New York last month. You called it a "great first step," but said it had a long way to go to becoming law. Is that still the case? John Pappas: I don't think the bill coming to pass this year is likely. We'll monitor it and I think it's a good barometer for 2015. Typically, bills introduced on one side of the aisle also have less of a chance to move. If there were a house companion bill in New York, the legislative side that is typically more conservative, it'd be better. We're in a good place right now, though. PocketFives: Should poker players avoid the Venetian and Palazzo (pictured) in Las Vegas? Adelson is the CEO and Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns both properties. John Pappas: That's an individual choice. I know a lot of players enjoy playing at those casinos, but they should recognize their owner has taken a stance against them playing in a licensed and regulated industry online. PocketFives: We've heard mixed reviews from the New York and New Jersey regulated US markets, where thousands of accounts have been created, but both states have seemed to fall short of expectations. What's your take? John Pappas: It's still very early to judge. In Nevada, we've known it would be a struggle because of the low population. They're moving in the right direction, though, with the compact with Delaware becoming imminent. In New Jersey, we have a situation where there are a number of factors that are weighing the system down like geo-location problems. We're going to see New Jersey continuing to expand, though. Poker is also just one offering in New Jersey, so I think they can have a lot of success. PocketFives: What plans does the PPA have for the 2014 election? The organization has distributed election guides and educated members on lawmakers' stances on poker in years past. John Pappas: We will be providing that information to our members directly through our PAC and other channels. We haven't created an election guide this year yet. We already know there are about 16 lawmakers who have supported the current Chaffetz/Graham legislation who would be on our target list. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. On Thursday, the Poker Players Alliance, the primary lobbying voice for poker players in the US, called legislation from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) "misguided" and launched a national call to action campaign to encourage Americans to fight back. The organization has launched a detailed, informative web page allowing players to e-mail, meet, and call their lawmakers as well as send Tweets to Congress. PPA Executive Director John Pappas commented in a press release, "We have learned time and time again throughout history that prohibition is not the solution for protecting consumersand actually does more harm than good. We cannot stand by and allow for misguided legislation to reverse the incredible advancements we have made in consumer and player protections and the ability of the individual states to determine whether to regulate online poker." The legislation from Graham and Chaffetz seeks to ban all forms of online gambling except betting on the ponies, which received a carve-out. Both lawmakers have declined interview requests from PocketFives and the legislation seems to have come at the behest, at least in part, of billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The latter is the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and has pledged to spend "whatever it takes" to eradicate online gambling from the face of the Earth. Pappas added that the PPA is not alone in its fight against Chaffetz, Graham, Adelson, and others including Florida Governor Rick Scott (pictured), all of whom have come out in favor of an internet gambling ban: "The National Conference of State Legislatures and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries also recently expressed their opposition to these efforts on the grounds that they would undermine states' authority. I encourage all Americans who oppose a ban on our online freedoms to join us in reaching out to your member of Congress and letting them know you do not support these bills." From April 11 to 27, lawmakers will return home from Capitol Hill to their districts, giving PPA members and Americans alike a chance to voice their displeasure with the proposed ban in person. As such, on its website, the PPA has outlined how to set up a meeting with an elected official and posted leave-behinds for meetings. Chaffetz's legislation is numbered HR 4301 and features Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Trent Franks (R-AZ), George Holding (R-NC), Frank Wolf (R-VA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) as co-sponsors. Chaffetz is pictured. Graham's legislation is numbered S 2159 and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) co-sponsor it. Importantly, the bills as written would shut down the legal and regulated online poker sites in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. According to Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas, the draft billscirculating from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that would ban online gambling in the US would also put an end to the existing regulated sites in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. However, compromises could be made as the bills, which were dropped on Wednesday, are advanced through Congress. Read the Graham bill. Will see any movement on the bills, which seek to restore the Wire Act of 1961 to say that it applies to all internet gambling sans horse racing, which received a carve-out? "The idea that these bills would go through the regular process is unlikely," Pappas told PocketFives in an exclusive interview. "The more concerning issue is that these bills could spark discussion among leaders about pushing them in a larger package. That's something we need to be very vigilant of." You'll recall that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, after being passed by a wide margin in the House, was tacked onto an unrelated port security bill in order to become law. At the end of the last Congressional session, rumors flew that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was trying to push through legislation legalizing online poker by adding it to a must-pass bill. However, his plan failed to come to fruition. "If these bills become law, all of the drafts I've seen would not provide any provisions for states with gambling sites already up," Pappas warned. "Ultimately, if these bills were to move, compromises would likely be made. One of the first might be that the three states with regulated gambling would be allowed to stay up. The bills would, however, cripple Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey from being able to expand player pools beyond their borders." You'll recall that Nevada and Delaware have already formed a compact to offer interstate internet poker. Whether that agreement, which is expected to take effect in mid-2014, will be permitted if the Chaffetz/Graham bills were to pass remains to be seen. We should point out that the comments from Pappas run somewhat in opposition to those made by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (pictured), who was recently quoted as saying, "I would question whether Federal law could come in and supersede our state's laws." The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Wednesday that no grandfather clause exists for states with regulated i-gaming sites like Nevada. "People recognize that if these bills proceed, they are going to have to make accommodations for those three states," Pappas forecasted. "I don't think we're looking for compromise, though. The PPA's position is that these bills should be defeated." Pappas added that we'd likely see "a lot" of Congressmen come out against these bills: "I would imagine the delegations from New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Illinois, Georgia, and other states with major online lotteries that would be impacted would be opposed." The Democratic Governors Association has already come out in opposition to the bills. Finally, we've seen Texas Governor Rick Perry (pictured) voice his concerns about legalized internet gambling in the US. The article PocketFives published about Perry, a former Republican Presidential nominee, earlier this week received more than 20 comments from readers. Pappas noted about Perry, "He is essentially hedging his rhetoric so that he doesn't offend pro-gaming interests and is able to appease Sheldon Adelson. The intent of his letter is quite clear, though: he is supporting the bills being introduced." Adelson has been at the forefront of the fight to ban internet gambling in the US in recent months. His casinos include the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Many players have voiced their intent not to spend money at those properties. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. On the cover of Newsweek Magazine's August 22 edition will be a child in a white t-shirt holding a tablet with playing cards on it. Below him in big black letters are the words "Poker Face," which accompany an article from Leah McGrath Goodman entitled, "How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand." --- 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 articlestarted with a brief history of online poker in the United States and then moved to the December 2011 proclamation from the US Department of Justice that the Wire Act of 1961 only applies to online wagering on sports. The interpretation came at the behest of the Illinois and New York lotteries. The decision, according to Goodman, had far-reaching effects. She wrote, "Seitz opened wide the door to online gambling, and in the process, critics say, may have opened a Pandora's Box. Lawmakers and experts warn that online gambling is dangerously addictive for some, especially children raised in a culture of online gaming and smartphones." According to one public policy analyst, "That a single, relatively unknown person in an office at the Justice Department can just bring about such massive change to our economy in direct contradiction to what Congress sees as the governing law signals a gravitational shift in powerthat is very concerning." The article then dove into quick-hit quotes from Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, pictured), who introduced legislation to rid the US of online poker, including games in regulated markets like New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Chaffetz told Goodman, "This is just the beginning. I am afraid that if we don't move quickly and get some decent regulations in place, which we really don't have right now, it will be too late to stop it from reaching all the states." Chaffetz, whom Newsweek subtly reminded readers is a father of three, warned the world about geo-location issues and pitfalls in restricting underage gambling, saying, "Many parents already can see how easy it is for a kid to get addicted to a video game that does not involve money. You put them on the internet and they are gambling with money, now you have a real problem." The piece goes on to call out the Caesars-powered Slotomania, an online slot game that the article dubbed "slots for tots." A Professor at McGill University warned Goodman, "Once they're addicted, these kids will take their parents' credit cards, gas cards, anything they can find to gamble with. I had one kid being raised by a single mother who stole two of her credit cards and lost $20,000 on PokerStars in one month." Also quoted in the article is Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling Keith Whyte, who told Newsweek that the line between play money and real money online gambling isn't as defined as you might think: "The legal and technical distinctions between whether or not the poker you are playing is gambling don't really matter to us or to the kids who get addicted. The definition of addiction does not depend on whether the real money you bet and lose is translated into virtual coins. You are still betting and losing money." The seemingly slanted article asserted that PokerStars hires "pricey, big-name lobbyists" and outlined links between the Obama Administration and the gaming industry. Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured) did not react too favorably to the piece, as expected, telling PocketFives, "I'm not sure where I should begin. There are so many problems with this story. It is full of inaccuracies and twists of truth that it would take days to sift through them all. Most troubling though is that the reporter clearly only spoke to one side and then wrote a story. There has been a robust and ongoing debate on this issue and to only present one side is a failure in journalism." PPA Vice President Rich TheEngineer Muny added on Facebook, "Wow, what a one-sided opinion piece… Nothing but opinion, cherry-picked supporting quotes, and personal attacks on a DOJ attorney who interpreted the Wire Act as it's written rather than by how some with agendas sought to twist it." What do you think of the article? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. This week, the official claims website for former US Full Tilt Poker players was updated to reveal that a new round of payments will be sent in mid-June. Totaling $15 million, the latest round of funding will be sent to players who "submitted complete, timely, or late petitions confirming their FTP account balance. Also included in this round of payments are affiliates who submitted petitions confirming their FTP account balances." Garden City Group, the designated Claims Administrator in the case, did not mention what would happen to players with disputed claims and, as such, PocketFives sought out John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, for an update. "I spoke to the DOJ on Wednesday about this very matter," Pappas told PocketFives. "They assured me this is being worked on and the latest wave of approved remissions will clear the way for more attention to be given to disputed claims. They said they have a huge task of sorting and then analyzing all of the documents provided by players, and that it is still going to take some time." Full Tilt Poker exited the US market in April 2011 on Black Friday. Now, nearly 40 months later, $81 million has been paid back to Americans, with another $15 million on the way next month. However, players with disputed balances could conceivably still be months away from receiving any sort of compensation. As Pappas (pictured) put it, the DOJ "reminded us that these types of Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section remissions typically take at least a year before anyone sees their money, but because [the DOJ was] confident there would not be a shortage of funds, they were able to process those undisputed claims before dealing with the disputes. I urged them to provide more frequent updates to the players and they have heeded my suggestion." Pappas concluded, "I plan to be in regular communication with the DOJ to ensure that things remain on track." The last update from Garden City Group about the timeline for disputed payments came in mid-April and rather vaguely said, "GCG continues to work with the Department of Justice to evaluate disputed and new petitions, the eligibility of Pros, and timelines for the remainder of the distributions." We'll keep you posted on the latest US Full Tilt Poker repayment news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. On Wednesday, longtime reporter John Ralston wrote on his blog, "Here's what's floating around DC. I smell a Nevada company." What followed was text of a draft bill that expands the scope of the Wire Act by adding the following language: "The term 'any sporting event or contest' includes games in material part or predominantly subject to chance which are played for a prize, including games in which players compete against each other, and not against any person, entity, or fellow player hosting the game, the outcome of which, over any significant interval, is predominantly determined by the skill of the players." Despite expanding the reach of the Wire Act, the draft bill includes a critical carve-out for poker, both intrastate and interstate. Therefore, according to Online Poker Report, many non-poker casino games would be disallowed under the draft bill's language. The bill is also questionable as to how it treats fantasy sports, which received a carve-out from the UIGEA. The bill does not appear to reference the section in the UIGEA that applies to fantasy sports (section "ix") and instead references sections "i" to "viii". Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas told PocketFives in an exclusive statement, "It is important to keep in mind that this is a draft bill, likely written by someone in the industry, and it is not an introduced piece of legislation." Even though some could view the poker carve-out as being positive for the industry, Pappas (pictured) confirmed, "At this time, the PPA is not pursuing a compromise carve-out billthat simply gives poker players the status quo. We are focused on defeating the Graham/Chaffetz bills and pushing state or Federal regulation of internet poker. If Congress does anything, they should either set standards for interstate licensing of online poker or get out of the way of the states who wish to pursue it on their own." Online Poker Report was not optimistic about the chances of any Federal legislation passing in 2014, an election year in the United States in which one-third of the Senate and the entire House will be up for grabs: "While a compromise bill certainly has a better chance in absolute terms than an outright ban or widespread legalization, any Federal action on online gambling remains highly unlikely. The bulk of the upside for politicians in the issue continues to reside in the writing of op-eds and the sponsorship of bills that will inevitably die in committee." In the US House and Senate, respectively, Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Senator Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, have introduced legislation to restore the Wire Act and eradicate internet gambling, including licensed online poker sites in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Pappas told us at the time, "The PPA's position is that these bills should be defeated." There has been no movement on either bill. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. In recent days, PokerUpdate and others have brought up the possibility of the Sheldon Adelson-backed Restoration of America's Wire Act (S 2159, RAWA) adding a carve-out for online poker during the so-called "lame duck" Congressional session in November. PokerUpdate reported on Saturday, "As Chris Grove reported from C5's US Online Gaming Conference, Bally Tech's John Connelly stated during a panel discussion, 'he expects a federal push to make 'everything other than poker illegal' this November.'" Adelson is pictured. PocketFives reached out to Poker Players Alliance(PPA) Executive Director John Pappas, who told us on Monday, "Senator Harry Reid has been very consistent in his support for regulated online poker, even if it is done at the state level, as is the case with his home state of Nevada. So, if there were a prohibition push during the lame duck session, I fully expect that Senator Reid would fight for a poker exemption." He warned, "To be clear, as far as I know, Sheldon Adelson, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Congressman Jason Chaffetz have not signaled any interest in a compromise to their bill that protects online poker." Graham and Chaffetz are the Republican lawmakers pushing RAWA through Congress. The measure would prohibit online gaming and eliminate the regulated markets in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Congress returns to session the week of November 9 and is scheduled to break before Thanksgiving. If needed, the House and Senate could reconvene in December for any last-minute must-pass legislation like a budget bill to replace the one that expires on December 11. As Pappas put it, "There will be quite a few bills and issues on Congress' plate during the lame duck session, but lawmakers who support RAWA have said they intend to push for their bill." When asked if the PPA, which is the main lobbying voice for poker players on Capitol Hill, had reached out to Adelson, Pappas responded, "We have no reason to believe that Sheldon Adelson supports online poker in any form." Adelson has become public enemy number one for the online poker community despite speaking in support of regulation as recently as 2001. At the time according to the Las Vegas Sun, Adelson was "pleased that the Nevada Legislature had taken the lead in regulating internet casinos" and added, "Our hat will be in that ring, but I don't believe the US Congress or the current administration is very anxious to make it happen." He also wanted to "applaud the gaming authorities on their efforts." On Adelson's flip-flop, Pappas commented to PocketFives, "It's a well-documented fact Mr. Adelson has previously supported online gaming. In fact, even today, his Las Vegas casino [the Venetian]offers remote gaming to its customers. So, his newfound opposition has left a lot people scratching their heads." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. In a notice posted on FullTiltPokerClaims.com, the Garden City Group, the appointed Claims Administrator for US Full Tilt refunds, issued a warning on Monday to petitioners who failed to provide correct social security information. In fact, giving incomplete or incorrect social security information could result in a player's claim being denied. "Petitioners with an incomplete or incorrect Social Security Number will have their petition recommended for denial," the statement read. "As explained in FAQ Number 17 on this website, prior to the payment of funds to a petitioner, GCG is required to provide the petitioner's Social Security or other Taxpayer Identification Number to the government in order to offset and collect any qualifying debts currently listed in the Treasury Offset Program." The Treasury Offset Program was created to collect outstanding debts that US residents owe to federal and state agencies, including back taxes and child support. Players with an incomplete Social Security Number, as well as players with incomplete banking information, were issued e-mails on October 25. A total of 2,200 e-mails were sent out, meaning there were plenty of former US Full Tilt customers with problems that needed to be addressed. Players with banking issues who do not submit corrected information by November 24, or 30 days after the date the e-mails from GCG were sent, will receive a check in the mail. As the FullTiltPokerClaims.com site explained, "Petitioners with incomplete or incorrect banking information will be sent a check to the mailing address provided with their petition, should their petition be approved." Anyone with questions about the status of their application should contact GCG at 866-250-2640 or Info@FullTiltPokerClaims.com. The most recent round of Full Tilt refunds went out at the end of September to 600 claimants. The amount given back was $1.8 million, which went to petitioners "who submitted complete, timely, or late petitions confirming their FTP account balance." According to Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas, players with disputed Full Tilt claims will likely not see any of their money until 2015. According to our original article on the topic from September, Pappas "said that GCG and DOJ still have their hands full with all the claims evaluations, resulting in a slow process. He plans to continue discussions with the DOJ over the coming weeks so he can keep the poker community informed." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest on the Full Tilt remission process. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. One of the major headlines of November was the departure of Ultimate Gaming from the Nevada market. The company, which left New Jersey in September, said of shuttering its Nevada site, "The state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations." --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. Visit William Hill today! --- PocketFives caught up with Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), who, while running around Capitol Hill, was kind enough to lend his thoughts on the first regulated online poker site in the US closing its doors after a year-and-a-half. "We were disappointed to see that it was shutting down," Pappas told PocketFives. "I think it's a lesson that being first does not equate to being the best." Many players in the industry critiqued Ultimate's software specifically, although the site's customer service was largely second-to-none. Pappas explained, "They had a lot of challenges on the technology side, the software side, and getting customers because of that. It wasn't sustainable for them." On the external side, according to Pappas, "There's still a very difficult environment in those small states like Nevada to attract a core mass of players to get liquidity to offer a compelling product. That's why we've argued we need a national network for online poker. I think this was a business case study for why a national network is so important. That can be achieved federally or by states doing aggressive compacting." Will Ultimate Poker closing in Nevada affect other states like California and Pennsylvania, which are contemplating regulating the game? Is Ultimate's closing in two states a black eye for the industry? "I don't think it'll have an impact," Pappas confidently said. "I don't know this is forcing closing the door on Ultimate being a product again, either. I hope they retry and I hope they'd be interested in markets like California where you have a larger player base to begin with. In every industry, there are companies that succeed and companies that fail. This is a lesson the industry is learning." Pappas and the PPA have long pushed for federal regulation of online poker due to the benefits of increased liquidity. "We have a small sample size today, but poker-only on a state-by-state basis without any compacts is not sustainable," Pappas told PocketFives. "If larger states like Pennsylvania, New York, California, and Illinois take products online, that dynamic could very well change. As of right now, we know in small states, it's difficult." He added, "Customers who want to play deserve a regulated environment. We would encourage every state to move in this direction. It's not the state's job to ensure that businesses make money, but they can set the regulatory regime up so that businesses can succeed. Then, it's up to the businesses to grow the market internally." Visit PocketFives' Nevada poker community for the latest news and discussion from Nevada members. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  11. On Wednesday, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, pictured) reintroduced legislation to ban internet gambling in the United States, presumably at the behest of Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. A press conference was held at 11:00am Eastern Time for Chaffetz to trumpet his latest attack on our industry. Reacting to the press conference was the Poker Players Alliance, whose Executive Director, John Pappas, commented, "Every Congress to consider internet gaming legislation has preserved the right of states to protect its citizens through a system that is accountable to regulators and the government. Attempting to re-write history through a piece of legislation that prohibits states from enacting these safeguards represents the worst kind of crony capitalism that favors a mega political campaign donor over what's in the best interest of the states and their consumers." The "mega political campaign donor" is Adelson, whose casinos include the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Adelson's team already hijacked a confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynchin order to bring up the evils of internet gambling. Adelson (pictured below) also met with House Judiciary Committee members to jump-start his anti-internet gambling crusade. You've probably heard the standard critiques of internet gambling: underage gambling, problem gambling, and terrorism. According to Pappas, those arguments are dubious at best: "To date, there has not been a single documented case of a minor playing on any of these state-regulated sites… Claims that regulated internet gaming is a conduit for money laundering and terrorist financing are completely false and have no backing in the real world. At best, these claims are fear-mongering; at worst, they are outright deception." Regulated i-gaming exists in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Although revenues have fallen short of expectations, these three states boast a regulated, safe environment for players to compete. "As the states are proving they can effectively regulate internet poker and contribute to the economy by doing so, one might question the motives behind stopping such success," Pappas closed by saying. "Americans are going to continue playing poker online, and with absolutely no consumer protections under a prohibition. If Congress is serious about protecting consumers, prohibiting states from implementing a sound regulatory framework is certainly not the answer." According to the PPA, Chaffetz's bill would eliminate the regulated gaming markets in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  12. This week, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson hijacked the critical Attorney General confirmation proceedingsin the House Judiciary Committee. One of his minions, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is "testing the waters" for a 2016 Presidential bid, took time during the hearing to ask Attorney General candidate Loretta Lynch about the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act, which says that the law only applies to sports betting. Rather than listening to Lynch's responses, thinking critically, and responding, Graham cut her off multiple times and seemed disinterested in what she had to say. Instead, he used the all-important hearing as a platform to promote Adelson's agenda. "I am not surprised he used the moment to raise the Wire Act and, at the same time, curry favor with Sheldon Adelson," Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured above) told PocketFives. "I don't think it is any coincidence that Senator Graham announced his intention to run for President the very same day." Graham introduced Adelson's Restoring America's Wire Act last Congress. The bill would eradicate internet gambling in the US, including in the three states where it's currently regulated. Where does Lynch stand on internet gambling? After all, she called the 2011 DOJ decision "one interpretation of the Wire Act" and will undoubtedly be bombarded with propaganda from Adelson (pictured), Graham, and company. Pappas remarked, "The Attorney General nominee's position on internet gaming is not known. However, I cannot imagine that she or any other law enforcement official would prefer an unregulated, unaccountable internet gaming marketplace over one that's regulated and accountable." Graham asked Lynch about the possibility of terrorists and criminal organizations funneling money through internet gambling sites, a theme we've seen in countless hearings over the years. "There is zero credibility to the argument that terrorist organizations are using online gaming sites to finance their operations," Pappas said. "Just like there is zero credibility to the notion that criminal enterprises are laundering their cash through online poker sites. But, just because it isn't true doesn't mean our opponents won't say it. I think we've learned they will stop at nothing to spread fear and misinformation about the industry." Graham has already started a Presidential-focused website, SecurityThroughStrength.com. Adelson's Sands owns the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Why any player would step foot in any of his casinos is beyond this author's comprehension. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  13. We hope you enjoyed the break. For about four weeks, the online poker industry didn't have to hear about Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson's one-man crusade to rid the United States of internet gambling forever. However, according to TownHall, the ageless wonder is back, and the chalkboard-scratching is louder than ever. TownHall explained in an article published on Wednesday, "Adelson (pictured) received a private briefing with Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee in the second week of January. The meeting sends a strong signal that the billionaire, who is one of the most generous contributors to Republican candidates and campaigns ever, will not retreat away from his desire to outlaw legal and regulated internet gaming by the states." The site continued, "Sources familiar with Adelson's lobbying describe the meeting as both a strategy session and an update for the gambling mogul." Adelson has said he'd spend "whatever it takes" to rid the US of the evil that is online gambling. He recruited minions like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and created the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. One of his minions even called those who gamble online "chumps" like we were on some schoolyard playground. According to the Poker Players Alliance, we were dangerously close to seeing Adelson's legislation passed at the end of the 2014 Congressional session. Seemingly, poker players can thank House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, pictured), who despite championing the UIGEA nine years ago, turned down Adelson's requests for a hearing during the lame duck session. According to TownHall, Goodlatte is a staunch proponent of the Tenth Amendment and considers Adelson's bill a threat to it. Speaking of the PPA, the organization's Executive Director, John Pappas, told PocketFives on Wednesday, "The TownHall article underscores the unseemly nature of our opponent's advocacy. Flexing political muscle for policy gains is not the type of governance the American people expect or respect. Congress should have a public discussion on the merits of public policy, not private meetings with political mega-donors." According to TownHall, Adelson spent more than $90 million toward GOP candidates and causes in 2014. His casinos include the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Why anyone would play at or visit any of these casinos is beyond this author's comprehension. We'll keep you posted on the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  14. We closed the 2014 calendar year focusing on legislation spearheaded by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson called Restoring America's Wire Act. The bill, which would have banned internet gambling and online poker in the US, ended up being stunted in the waning moments of Congress, but according to Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), a bill like it will soon resurface in Congress. PocketFives: When do you foresee legislation like RAWA resurfacing? John Pappas: It's difficult to predict the timing, but I have no doubt that RAWA-type legislation will be introduced in this Congress. We are on Capitol Hill every day trying to meet with people who cosponsored the bill previously as well as members of relevant committees to educate them on the issues. PocketFives: Will we see legislation to regulate online gambling this year too? John Pappas: We have had some good conversations with people who have been supportive in the past and they're enthusiastic about being supportive again. We are for the freedom of states to explore i-gaming as they see fit as well as a Federal structure for internet poker so you can have that interstate liquidity that's so vital to the industry. PocketFives: What is the timing for pro- and anti-internet gambling bills? John Pappas: I would say you'll see bills on both sides within the next two or three months. PocketFives: Will Adelson (pictured) continue to be a driving force after his efforts in 2014 came up short? John Pappas: I don't think the money he spent will discourage him. What he can't ignore is the growing opposition to RAWA. It'll be interesting to see how much he focuses on Federal legislation versus how much he tries to stop bills at the state level. PocketFives: How close were we to RAWA passing in 2014? John Pappas: It was being discussed at the highest levels in the US Congress in how they could include it in last-minute legislation. We knew these discussions were taking place before the November elections, so we did what we could to shine a light on those discussions. There's no secret it was being discussed. If we had done nothing, it would have been very easy to slip it in. A combination of the PPA's grassroots efforts plus the outside groups that opposed it made it politically difficult for them to do it. The legislation is so closely aligned with Adelson that to tack RAWA on at the last minute would have been a clear giveaway to a major mega-donor. If I were Adelson or the Republicans who want to get this done, I'd go through the regular legislative process. Slipping this through in the dark of night will lead to a cynical look at how government works. PocketFives: Do you foresee any new states coming online this year like California? John Pappas: You have to suspend any idea of realism when you're talking about California because of the nature of the tribal influence there. A bill won't get done until the tribes can congeal around a single proposal. In the last few months, we've seen tribes come together and have a growing acceptance to not limiting the competition and not excluding horse tracks and others who rightfully deserve to be part of the industry. We're optimistic in California, but we recognize that a lot needs to happen before a bill is passed. Pennsylvania is a really good possibility and I expect we'll see legislation pop up there. The good thing about California and Pennsylvania is that their legislative processes are longer. Legislation can have time to develop and earn support. Visit ThePPA.org for more details on the poker lobbying group. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  15. 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.
  16. If you were hiding under a rock, you missed the two-hour-long fear-mongering fest that was a House Judiciary Subcommittee's hearing on Restoring America's Wire Act, a bill that comes at the behest of Sheldon Adelson. It ended with a threat for a markup and among those in the room on Capitol Hill during the hearing was Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured). "Today's hearing was about one thing – checking the box to advance Mr. Adelson's bill," said Pappas in a press release. "While the PPA has always encouraged a national discussion on the value of regulating online gambling, constructing a hearing at the behest of a political donor is an unfortunate waste of everyone's time. This bill should die today so members of the Committee can focus on more pressing matters and not on legislation that will deny states the ability to protect its citizens." Adelson, who heads the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, reportedly is behind RAWA, meaning the 18th richest person on the face of the Earth according to Forbes could soon be dictating law for an entire industry. To that end, Pappas commented, "Never in the history of US internet gaming legislation has Congress ever considered overriding states' rights to regulate online gambling within their own borders and yet Mr. Adelson's bill would do just that. If an unelected billionaire is granted the power to rewrite history by imposing a federal prohibition, the future is bleak for every American who values their internet freedom." Bleak indeed, especially with a potential markup looming. As of Wednesday night, PocketFives and PokerNews were two of the major outlets with recaps of the hearing up and not coincidentally both had the phrase "fear-mongering" in their titles. Pappas used the term himself, saying, "It is critical that Congress distinguish the facts from the fear-mongering. For over a decade, Europe has successfully regulated online gambling and now the same can be said of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey in the US. Only through regulation will Americans have access to advanced technologies which effectively keep minors off online gambling websites, protect problem gamblers, and prevent fraud and abuse." But, hey, it's all about fear-mongering, right? Read the recap of the Subcommittee hearing. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  17. After being at the forefront of the regulatory efforts in Congress for several years, former Senate Majority Leader and current Nevada Senator Harry Reid (pictured) has now firmly aligned himself with billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in his fight against online gambling in the US. In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun's Amber Phillips, Reid tried to dance around the subject, but admitted he was more likely to ban online gambling than endorse passage of legislation to regulate the activity. "Unless we can get something done with poker, I'm going to look closely. I haven't made up my mind, but I'm going to look closely into banning it totally," Reid said to Phillips. "I'm going to take a hard look at it. It would be something I would certainly consider strongly." Reid has stated that if a bill from Jason Chaffetz to ban i-gaming in the US were to move through the House, he would be a huge advocate for a Senate version. In an interview with a radio station in March, Reid had previously said that he would "give it a good hard try" to get Chaffetz's legislation, called RAWA, passed in the Senate. The change in Reid's mindset regarding the regulation of the online gambling business is a 180-degree turn. A longtime advocate for the casino industry, Reid has been at the helm of many previous attempts to regulate online poker on a Federal level. His most notable effort, teaming with now-retired Arizona Senator Jon Kylin 2012, came up short, as the bill never made it out of the draft phase. Now, he's aligned with Adelson(pictured). In the interview with Phillips, Reid tried to explain the change of heart he has had regarding online gambling and poker. "I worked very hard to get online poker," Reid commented in the interview. "I thought (it) would be great for the state of Nevada. It's something that is done recreationally around the world. I thought it would be great for Nevada to get it controlled. That didn't work, could not get it done." Rather than attempt to work for legislation to allow online poker or get a carve-out for the industry, Reid now believes that a total ban on internet gambling is the course to take. While this isn't a huge change from his previous position, it is notable that Reid, who will retire when his term expires in 2016, is going against several key contributors, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, to side with the Adelson-led faction that is seeking a Federal ban. Not everyone is against our industry. The Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas (pictured), stated to PocketFives, "RAWA would be devastating for the many Las Vegas casinos who have already invested heavily in the internet space. It would also cut off the arms of legs of the US gambling industry, denying them the ability to expand their businesses and their brands through the internet. It is unfathomable that Congress would single out the gambling industry and not allow them to utilize the internet for their business." Regarding comments from Reid that average citizens do not care about the subject, Pappas said, "I'd like to prove Senator Reid wrong. People do care about the freedom to play poker and I hope poker players are reminding their Senators of this fact." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  18. In the last couple of weeks, we've learned that the main man in the US Senate championing Sheldon Adelson's (pictured) legislation to ban internet gambling, Lindsey Graham, has never sent an e-mail. We've also learned that Adelson's camp was a no-show at the Conservative Political Action Conference to debate the merits of i-gaming. Are those championing Adelson's Restoring America's Wire Act, or RAWA, just doing it for campaign contributions and political favors? Is it all about the money? We'll start with Adelson's camp being no-showing the Conservative Political Action Conference. According to PPA Vice President Rich TheEngineerMuny, the American Conservative Union, which organized CPAC, reached out to Adelson's camp, which never responded. "They were a no-show," Muny told PocketFives. "[PPA Executive Director]John Pappas gave a speech on the topic instead. There was an empty chair next to him like Clint Eastwood at the GOP convention in 2008." Then there's Lindsey Graham, who told the news program "Meet the Press" that he has never sent an email in his life. Yes, the man championing i-gaming legislation has never sent an email. "We got the same thing from [Adelson spokesperson]Andy Abboud, who said he got lost when he was being taught how geo-location worked. Some of these lawmakers think that you go to a website, click a box saying you're 21, and you're off and running with your parents' credit card. That couldn't be further from the truth." According to Muny, Graham being inept at technology does not hurt his influence on the issue. Graham is exploring running for president and, according to Muny, "will be looking for Adelson to donate to his campaign and look on it favorably" in exchange for helping to ban i-gaming. Then there's Harry Reid (pictured). Now the Senate Minority Leader, Reid could push RAWA in exchange for Adelson not donating to Reid's opponent. We already know Reid favors RAWA, but wants a poker carve-out. You can see how this issue might just be all about the money. As Muny put it, "All you have to look at is how much people cared about this issue from 2011 until Adelson got involved; hardy anyone spoke about it. Now, it seems to be a high-priority issue with expedited hearings." Are there any lawmakers who genuinely care about internet gambling for reasons other than campaign contributions and political favors? Muny singled out Joe Barton and Pete Sessions. The two Texans "have come out in favor of our position," said Muny. "I don't think there's any financial windfall for Barton or Sessions. On the pro-RAWA side, there are only a few people who have any record of caring about this before Adelson like Jason Chaffetz and Dianne Feinstein. Graham had no concerns before Adelson." If we took the net worth of every PocketFives member and added it together, we'd still be dwarfed by Adelson's war chest, so what can us lowly poker players do? Social media, said Muny: "The more we do to keep lawmakers in the know, the better. Adelson's camp is expert when it comes to lobbying, but they're not skilled at doing anything on social media. That's an area we have an edge at. All of us need to get behind PPA too because we can bring lobbyists to Capitol Hill and demonstrate there's another side to the debate." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  19. [caption width="485"] John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance[/caption] December capped off a relatively quiet year on the poker legislation front in the US. However, the month itself was fairly eventful. Let's take a look back at what legislative events happened in December, in case you missed it. RAWA Hearing Failures The most significant development at the Federal level in December was a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled "A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications." Organized by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the hearing could have been a disaster for online poker. Instead, we may have witnessed the end of an anti-iGaming movement on Capitol Hill. During the hearing, Chaffetz's Republican and Democratic colleagues lashed out at the state's rights implications of Restoring America's Wire Act, or RAWA. The bill, which Chaffetz introduced, decrees that the Wire Act of 1961 applies to all forms of online gambling, including poker, even in the three states that have already legalized it. If passed, it would mean an end to iPoker in the US. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is the main driver behind the bill. Rather than a hearing full of fear-mongering like we saw last March, December's hearing was largely a victory for proponents of online poker. As Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas told PocketFives, "I can't imagine there is tremendous momentum for RAWA coming out of the hearing, but we know Adelson and the money he has will continue to push the issue. I don't think we can let our guard down. We have done an outstanding job, not just the PPA, but the industry, of educating lawmakers about the failures of RAWA and I think that was exposed during the hearing." [caption width="512"] Online gambling opponent Jason Chaffetz[/caption] At one point during December's tilt, Chaffetz was seen in a heated sidebar with another lawmaker. Did the entire affair catch him off-guard? Pappas explained, "He just assumed everyone was on his side. I think he was a little stunned to hear the opposition, even from his own party, saying it doesn't make sense on Tenth Amendment grounds and logical grounds. There wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for it." Close, But No Cigar in Pennsylvania While we may have witnessed the death of RAWA at the Federal level in December, especially given that 2016 is a Presidential election year, there were some developments on the state level last month. Despite much optimism, efforts to regulate internet poker in Pennsylvaniafell short in December. There, a bill from Representative John Payne, HB 649, was withdrawn for the remainder of 2015 last month. [caption width="468"] Pennsylvania State Representative John Payne[/caption] Pappas pointed out, "Pennsylvania is still very much a live wire. The budget negotiations are ongoing and the failure of the most recent effort is probably good for iPoker. We are going to be watching that closely. They're going to be starting on the new budget in the first two weeks of the New Year." In Pennsylvania, the PPA Executive Director could see a scenario where the state's budget includes an earmark for revenue from expanded online gambling, but no authorizing legislation like HB 649. Then, it'll be up to lawmakers to decide what types of online gaming are permitted and what companies can service the market. HB 649 would have allowed the state's 12 brick-and-mortar casinos to partner with an online gaming operator to offer online poker and online casino games to those inside Pennsylvania. California Gains Momentum Another state where we could see action in 2016 is California, the holy grail of online poker markets in the US due to its size. California lawmakers have been closely monitoring revenue results from New Jersey, which has regulated internet gambling, and have a keen eye on PokerStars' impending launch in the Garden State, according to an ABC San Diego story and others in recent weeks. "California is still very much a hope," Pappas told us. "It has been a struggle with competing factions, but we got close last year to some agreements. One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been PokerStars and the bad actor provisions. However, PokerStars being licensed in New Jersey means that issue in California could come off the table. That would only leave the issue of how you deal with the racetracks. I think there's a sincere effort to include them via a license or revenue share. If that works out, California could happen relatively quickly." [caption width="334" align="alignright"] First-year California online poker revenue projections[/caption] In October, PokerStars received a transactional waiver allowing it to operate in New Jersey. No launch date has been given, but Pappas called the development "positive," saying that PokerStars not being considered a "bad actor," at least in New Jersey, means Amaya, Caesars, and MGMcould all ultimately work towards the same goal. Pappas noted that the trio has "a powerful amount of resources to put behind a lobbying effort." Caesars and MGM have largely been pro-iPoker, while Las Vegas Sands and Wynn have not. In late December, it was announced that the California Assembly could tackle online poker as early as this week, according to Online Poker Report. Four-Year Wire Act Anniversary Finally, it has been four years since the US Department of Justice issued a memo saying that the Wire Act only applies to online sports betting, ushering in regulated intrastate online gambling in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The opinion, which was released two days before Christmas in 2011 in response to inquiries from the New York and Illinois lotteries, has been a hot-button topic for opponents like Chaffetz. "It's not often that a gaming policy is enacted in a single legislative session," Pappas said of the speed at which US regulation at the state level has proceeded since 2011. "It usually takes multiple legislative sessions for gaming policy to become law. We're hopeful that 2016 is better than 2015 and better than the previous year. Getting bills passed is the ultimate goal, but we have to build to that goal first."
  20. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES Lance Bradley and Matt Clark are joined by Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas to talk about the sudden resignation of long-time online gaming opponent, Jason Chaffetz, the rumors surrounding Jeff Sessions and an update on Pennsylvania online poker momentum hitting a small snag. The guys also talk about the partnership between the World Poker Tour and PokerStars for the MonteDam Swing, and also discuss WPT Beijing, what it means to be an online poker room ambassador in 2017, and the overwhelming success of the "mid-major" tournament series' in the United States.
  21. Wednesday was a big day for Michigan online poker players as the State Senate passed a package of bills that make online poker, sports betting, daily fantasy sports and online casino legal inside state borders. The three bills each passed the Senate by a 35-3 vote and will need to next pass through the House for concurrence before it lands on the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature and final approval. The bills should pass through the house on Wednesday night. This marks the second straight year that Michigan has passed an online gambling bill. In 2018, the legislature passed H 4926 by a 33-5 before then Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill a week later before leaving office. Michigan residents have little reason to fear a repeat result though. Governor Whitmer has been involved in the drafting of the bill and was involved in the tax rate negotiations that eventually lead to its passing. According to John Pappas, former director of the Poker Players Alliance, the bill does not allow for interstate liquidity sharing due to Governor Whitmer's concerns over online slot revenues potentially leaving the state. Michigan has a population of nearly 10 million and will be a larger stand-alone market than New Jersey but smaller than Pennsylvania. Once the bill is signed by Whitmer, it will make Michigan the sixth state to legalize online joining Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

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