California and N.Y. get involved in online poker

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California is again in the limelight of online gaming discussions. With recent activity toward pushing to get online gaming in the next year, PokerStars has been working to be part of the infrastructure as one of the licensed operators. This has caused a stir among more than a dozen tribes in the state, prompting them to ask the state’s lawmakers to keep “unscrupulous entities” from participating in the landscape once it gets approved.

The “unscrupulous entities” comment refers to the so-called “bad actors” provision that has been added to most of the online regulations in the states where online poker is offered. This provision essentially bans online gaming companies that continued to do business with U.S. players after the UIGEA passed in 2006.

PokerStars has taken particular issue with this request from the tribes, prompting Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ head of corporate communications, to release a statement where he mentions the states’ regulators have done a good job over the past 15 years of protecting the consumers and should be allowed to continue to do so without the interference of the tribes. The statement also says, “The only parties seeking to change this are certain groups who want to use the Legislature to gain a competitive market advantage and to limit competition. Their efforts are not in the best interest of consumer choice or consumer protection.”

NEW YORK: Republican Sen. John Bonacic introduced a bill in the New York Legislature, which seeks to allow online poker by changing the current law, which regulates parimutuel gaming, racing and breeding. The bill would allow poker to be recognized as a “game of skill” and remove it from the state’s list of games of chance. Just like I mentioned with California, New York’s bill includes a “bad actor” clause with the requirements to be enforced on any organization that seeks to be an operator. There’s also a provision that calls for 10 operator licenses to be granted for a term of 10 years for a cost of $10 million per operator. Then each operator would pay 15 percent of its gross proceeds to the state.

BAN BILL: In Washington, D.C., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced legislation that would ban all forms of Internet gambling with the exception of fantasy games and horse racing. There has been a lot of opposition to this bill, including a group of 11 governors, called the Democratic Governors Association, that wrote a letter to the leaders in Congress asking them to vote no on this bill and help to preserve states’ rights when regulating gambling. One major item in this legislation: It would ban all Internet gaming for every state, even if the state already passed it into law, like Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have done.

Michael Waxman, spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, said: “While prohibition isn’t the answer, there’s no question that federal intervention is needed to control Internet gambling activity. Consistent rules across the country are needed to ensure every American is protected against money laundering, fraud and abuse. While federal oversight is needed, individual states should decide whether to allow Internet gambling within their borders. Sen. Graham and Rep. Chaffetz should respect the right of each state, not force a rollback of an industry that has already started to flourish in the U.S.”

— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.