Federal Anti-Internet Gambling Bill on the Floor

March 31, 2014

An initiative to roll back state-regulated online poker has officially been introduced by Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and Republican US Congressman Jason Chaffetz out of Utah. In draft form, the bill had been deemed the Internet Gambling Control Act, but has since been renamed the much more intimidating name, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, also called RAWA.

It is not a surprise to many that the bill is suspected to be heavily backed by Sheldon Adelson, arguably the world’s biggest (and richest) opponent to online gambling regulations in the US. The billionaire casino tycoon has made it his life’s mission over the past six plus months to put a stop to state-regulated online gambling, banning any online gambling at the federal level.

An Adelson lobbyist was identified early on as an author of an early draft of the bill, and it is very similar to the goals and policies set forth by Adelson’s campaign, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Co-sponsors of the House and Senate versions of the bill, which appear to be identical, are Senators Kelly Ayotte, Mike Lee, and Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, and in the House, Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, Jim Matheson, Jim Jordan, Tulsi Gabbard, Trent Franks, James Lankford, Frank Wolf, and Lamar Smith.

The RAWA also doesn’t make any exclusions for existing states that have passed state-regulated online gambling, which thus far include Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, and California is close on their heels.

The Las Vegas Review Journal claims that these states “would need to come to Congress for permission to continue that arrangement” if the bill passes.

However, there is a clause in the RAWA that offers a partial exemption for in-person and computer-generated retail state lotto sales. Furthermore, the bill excludes horse racing, fantasy sports, insurance, securities, and other forms of betting.

At the same time, online poker proponents Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller of Nevada are working on their own bill to rework the Wire Act that would include a carve out for online poker, in a similar way that fantasy sports were omitted from the UIGEA. Therefore, it may mean a compromised bill would need to be drafted before Senator Reid would vote to pass it.

Heller says, “Get the bill out there first, take a look at it, see what it does.”

On the other hand, Graham said to the Las Vegas Sun, “If you want to have a poker exception, offer an amendment and see if it will pass.”

Inaguaral New Jersey Championship of Online Poker Starts Next Month

March 18, 2014

Coming next month is the inaugural New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, aka NJCOP. BorgataPoker.com and NJ.PartyPoker.com will host the series that will run parallel to the live WPT Championship hosted by PartyPoker at the Borgata in Atlantic City. The NJCOP will begin April 19th and finish up on April 27th. The guaranteed prize pool for the Main Event will be worth $200K. The entire series boasts a combined $600K in guaranteed prize pools across 15 tournament events. The Main Event will take place on April 27th at 5:00 p.m. ET and guarantees $50K to the first place finisher.

Mike Sexton, Team PartyPoker captain, says, “If you love poker then you need to be in New Jersey come April 19. The online poker action in New Jersey has been red hot since day one and the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker will be the ultimate test for pros and amateurs alike. What’s more if you are coming from out of town to play the PartyPoker WPT World Championship at Borgata it is timed, so you can make the most of the live and online games!”

He adds, “We believe it is best to be bold in the market.”

The series kicks off with a $50K freeroll at 4:00 p.m. ET on the 19th. All final tablers in this event will then go on to play in every single NJCOP event thereafter, a satellite package worth $2K. With most events featuring NLH, but the schedule is full of interesting elements such as bounty tournaments, a PLO event, a highroller event, a player’s choice event, a six-max, and a couple of re-buy tournaments.

NJ.PartyPoker.com is running qualifiers for all events as of yesterday for as little as $1.

Poker Prop Bet Gone Terribly Wrong

March 17, 2014

Many poker players are known for making dumb prop bets at the felt, on sports games, and whatever else they can bet on like vegetarian Howard Lederer’s quick $10K he made off David Grey for simply eating a burger. And then there’s Huck Seed’s 18-hour stint standing in the ocean up to his shoulders due to a lost bet with Phil Hellmuth. In addition, there’s been a couple of random bets among players that require moving into a Bellagio bathroom or bathtub, but the strangest and probably most pointless prop bet was between two New Zealand players five years ago.

When 22-year-old “Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova” went to renew his passport, he was met with the stark realization that when he applied for a name change (above) after losing a drunken poker bet a half decade ago, it actually was approved, according to a friend of Mr. Frostnova, who posted the story on an online body-building forum.

The name is actually 99 characters, one less than is allowed by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, and now that it has been approved, not only will it have to appear on the fellow’s passport, but will also need to be changed on his driving license as well as other legal documents, as the name was officially accepted in March 2010, according to Michael Mead from the Department of Internal Affairs.

After meeting all the legal criteria and with all application fees paid, Mead says that Frostnova would be able to change his name back.

This isn’t the first weird name change New Zealand has encountered. In 2008 authorities were court ordered to take Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’s into custody in order to change her name. Other names rejected by New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Herald include Knight, Majesty, King, Justice, Princess, V8, and *. Legal names do not allow symbols in New Zealand, as if that needed to be cleared up.

US Online Poker Market Surviving

March 10, 2014

The online poker market in New Jersey is finally seeing results from recent promotional and marketing strategies implemented to up interest among the Garden State’s online poker player pool. At just over three months old, the regulated and legal online poker industry in New Jersey is figuring things out.

This past Sunday, the biggest day of the week for online poker big-money guaranteed tournaments, Borgata-backed PartyPoker saw 768 players register for its $100K guaranteed featuring a $200 buy-in, smashing the promised prize pool and becoming the most successful guaranteed MTT for New Jersey to date. And other online poker sites are also seeing better numbers in New Jersey.

Peak cash game player pools are rising and seven-day peak player numbers have PartyPoker at 579 and WSOP.com at 342. 888 is third in the popularity contest with a seven-day peak of 286, while Ultimate Poker trails with 52. These numbers are somewhat in line with those numbers from other poker-friendly states, with Delaware seeing a peak pool of 56, while Nevada’s WSOP.com is at 250 and Ultimate Poker is at 117, the first real-money, regulated online poker site in the country.

The New Jersey online gambling industry, which has seen more than 200K accounts registered, generated nearly $9.5 million during January alone, and while Nevada numbers have not been released, it’s estimated that online poker is generating around $200K per month on the west coast.

And the numbers are expected to rise. Analysts believe that with more deposit and withdraw options being made available to players and tweaks being made to geolaction glitches, more players will be willing to and able to log on more frequently.

A recent interstate agreement between Nevada and Delaware may help flailing Delaware numbers, which have been the least of the three states, estimated at about half that of Nevada participation. With a combined player pool of almost four million (population of Nevada and Delaware combined), the interstate pact will likely be a successful move for the two states. The agreement leaves room for and encourages more states to join, so New Jersey may be a part of that deal as well in the future, once the interstate network is established.

Dan Cates Up $750K for 2014

March 10, 2014

Dan “Jungleman12” Cates has been one to watch in the high-stakes online poker in the past, but he hasn’t had the best start to 2014 as his fans would have liked. From the $1.9 million owed to him by a fellow high-stakes player to the unfinished Durrr Challenge, Cates has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout his career, as all big-money online pros who have chosen this roller coaster of a profession.

At only 24 years old today, Cates began his career in 2009, and according to HighstakesDB, he’s played just under 334K hands played at online poker cash games thus far, which has netted him profits that amass to more than $8.7 million for his entire career earnings. These numbers make him one of the most successful high-stakes online poker players in the world and put him as the third biggest poker winner tracked by HighstakesDB.

Now as an established chapter in online poker high-stakes cash game history books, Cates, like other proclaimed pros, didn’t start out a superstar. He worked his way up the micro-stakes and even worked at McDonald’s for a brief time to pad his bankroll when he lost everything. His uber-aggressive play style is common in his ranks, comparable to other high-stakes greats like Tom Dwan and Viktor Blom, and over the past couple years, this style of play has worked well for him, though he’s admitted that the high-stakes life is a stressful one and not something he plans on doing for the rest of his life.

Things pretty much plateaud for Cates after Black Friday in 2011 when he reached the $7 million mark, but he’s been steadily gaining ground over the past year specifically. In just the first week of this month, he’s played about 3,600 hands for which he’s up almost half a million dollars, which has helped him recoup some of the year’s prior losses. He’s now about $750K up for the year.

As Cates awaits his Full Tilt Poker refund, he also awaits Dwan’s return to the Durrrr Challenge, for which Cates is up $1.5 million and 20K hands in to the 50K required to complete the challenge. However, it’s been three years, so it’s not likely Cates is holding his breath.

Federal Anti-Online Gambling Bill to be Introduced

March 4, 2014

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (D) is planning on introducing a bill that would ban online poker at the federal level. This is in direct contradiction to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who is working with Nevada Senator Dean Heller (R) towards an exemption for online poker. However, Graham has adamantly expressed that he is very much against exempting online poker from the act.

The 2006 UIGEA technically illegalizes online poker, but since the US Department of Justice re-interpreted their stance on this law, states have begun the process, and three have already gone live, to legally allow online poker to their residents.

Currently, Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada have allowed online poker to residents within state boarders, and Nevada and Delaware have forged an agreement to allow interstate Internet poker. Illinois and California will likely be the next states to open up regulated online poker sites for their residents.

However, Graham is hoping to put an end to all of it, including the states who have already launched successful online gambling markets.

There are a number of legislatures who are against online gambling, and some are even looking to criminalize it.

Graham said, “I don’t think it is a good idea for the country. South Carolina is not a big gambling state… A lot of damage can be done to the society in general. Again, the law enforcement community has been pretty universally against it in South Carolina and you can see a pretty wide coalition of cops and religious leaders coming together.”

The new bill would seek to rewrite the Wire Act of 1961 to add an online gambling ban to other prohibitions already depicted in the act. If the Democratic-controlled Senate were to pass the bill, the House of Representatives would then have to pass it.

But some Americans and the PPA are confused. Sheldon Adelson, who has blatantly slammed online gambling and made it a federal ban his mission, was a major contributor to Heller’s 2012 reelection campaign, contributing at least $7 million. However, if we’ve learned anything from Adelson, it’s that his money doesn’t always work in the political arena.